Border opening a one-sided love affair
Hundreds of Thai entrepreneurs who turned up at the opening ceremony of the Kiu Phawok border pass between Chiangmai and Burma’s Mongton this morning amid the unexpected downpour were disappointed when the other side of the border remained empty of humanity.
“It (the opening) is good for the people on both sides of the border,” one distressed
trader told S.H.A.N. “Why should the Burmese leaders want to keep us apart if
they are working for the good of their people?”
People in Mongton have also expressed their wish to reopen the Kiu Phawok border, also known as BP-1 (Boundary Post #1), closed since 2002 following confrontations between the two countries’ armies over the issue of drug influx from Burma, according to SHAN sources on the border.
Thailand presented its proposal to reopen the border pass at the Township Border Committee (TBC) meeting in November. Burma so far has yet to respond to it.
Thai business sector had reportedly consulted Col Yawdserk, leader of the anti-junta Shan State Army (SSA) South, of the likelihood of increased drug flow due to the reopening. “I told them the drug trade doesn’t have to depend on official border passes for its mobility,” said the 50-year old SSA chief. “You don’t seem to be concerned about the existing border checkpoints. So why should you worry about an additional one. I say open as many as you like. It is good for the people.”
Thailand and Burma have 4 permanent border checkpoints:
- Three Pagodas
- Ranong-Kawsawng (Kawthaung)
Thuamsri, Chairwoman of the Muangna Tambon Administrative Organization (TAO),
Chiangdao district, Chaingmai Province, who presided over the opening ceremony,
said, “When the border is closed, both the Thai and Burmese governments lose,
because people and goods are still crossing the border through unofficial
routes, but there is no revenue to help develop the border areas. We hope
the Burmese government will act in the best interests of the people on both
sides and reciprocate our goodwill soon.”
The Kiu Phawok border pass, before 2002, was opened three days a week: Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Main imports from Burma were beans, sesame, cattle and timber while Thailand exported fuel oil and processed foodstuffs, according to a TAO official.