Anti government protestors disrupted normal life in Thailand; Aung San Suu Kyi visits Thailand; Defence Ministers of Cambodia ad China meet; U.S.- Indonesia conduct naval exercise; minister; Myanmar has abandoned nuclear research; The U.S. defence secreta
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • (MAY 28-JUNE 3)

    According to reports, on June 1, 2012, anti-government protesters brought Thailand's parliament to a halt, surrounding the complex and forcing the speaker to postpone debate on a bill that could clear the way for the return of a prime minister ousted in a coup six years ago. About 2,500 yellow-shirted protesters of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), a royalist middle-class movement instrumental in bringing down two governments, blocked cars from entering the compound and forced some members to climb through side entrances to attend the session. The protesters say the reconciliation bill amounts to an amnesty for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who in September 2006 was ousted in a military coup and later fled the country. 1

    In another development, on June 2, 2012, thousands of Myanmar refugees gathered to meet democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi at Mae La camp on the Thai side of the border. The refugees, mostly ethnic minorities dressed in traditional costume, cheered and waved placards as Ms. Suu Kyi arrived at the camp 50 kilometres north of Mae Sot. According to the media reports, Ms. Suu Kyi toured the camp and held talks with leaders but was not allowed by Thai administrators to deliver a speech to the refugees. 2

    According to the media reports, on May 28, 2012, the Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh met with Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie ahead of an ASEAN defence ministers meeting. It is said that the meeting would discuss strengthening military cooperation between the two countries. 3

    The U.S. and Indonesia began an annual naval exercise on May 29, 2012 when a U.S. Navy Task Group and Marine landing force arrived in the port city of Surabaya, Indonesia. The exercise is part of the 18th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), a series of annual bilateral naval exercises the U.S. holds with countries in Southeast Asia. 4

    In a speech delivered at Shangri- La Security forum in Singapore, the defence minister of Myanmar claimed that the country has abandoned research into nuclear power generation. The new government had "already given up all activities on nuclear issues", Lt Gen Hla Min told the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum. In 2010, a defecting Burmese soldier and mechanical engineer accused his country of starting work on a nuclear-weapons programme. Hla Min also insisted that the country had never pursued nuclear weapons. 5

    In other developments, the U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta began his Vietnam visit on June 3, 2012. The visit to Vietnam is widely seen as Washington's intent to aid allies in the Asia-Pacific region and develop and enforce maritime rights in the South China Sea. He also paid a visit to the Cam Ranh Bay, the strategic deep water port that was a U.S. base during the Vietnam War. 6