THE US remains encouraged by the Thai junta government’s commitment to return the country to democracy amid shifting factors that make it very possible, even quite likely, that the election will be further postponed.
A commitment to ongoing mutual democratic values will also continue to cement the relationship of “great and good friends” and will soon see its bicentennial anniversary later this year.
Or at least that’s the way that the US Ambassador is talking this week.
“American policy remains much as it has been. We believe that democracy is the great way to keep working together,” said US Ambassador Glyn Davies yesterday.
“[Between] old and new administrations there will be a different emphasis put on issues,” Davies said, “but I think for the most part, our relationship and priority will be balanced on strategic interests … and on our principles that will continue under any administration.”
Davies spoke during a press conference concerning the “Great and Good Friends” exhibition of friendship to be held from March 21 to June 30 at the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles to celebrate the 200th anniversary of bilateral relations.
Trump also chose to not give public prominence to democracy during PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s visit to the White House last October. Instead, the US leader emphasised a range of issues regarding trade deals and US exports to the Kingdom, which enjoys a trade surplus. However, the US Embassy in Bangkok expressed an expectation for “Thailand’s return to a democratic government via free and fair elections as soon as possible” not long after the junta-appointed legislators voted to delay promulgation of the MP election bill draft.
General Joe Dunford, the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also said that he was “very encouraged” about the country’s return to democracy following his meetings with Prayut and Deputy PM and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan on Wednesday.
“This would allow us to deepen our relationship in the years ahead,” Dunford was quoted as saying by Department of Defence-based reporter Jim Garamone.
Dunford has been on tour to strengthen military ties with Asia-Pacific countries amid the looming situation in the |Korean peninsula. The topic was also touched upon during a meeting with Thai leaders.
Dunford also spoke of deepening exercises and expanding educational opportunities in the future. Around 6,800 American service members will take part in Thailand-based Cobra Gold joint military exercise to begin next Tuesday.
Prayut, meanwhile, said yesterday that Dunford did not express concerns about Thailand’s democratic development and merely gave encouragement.
“I insisted that we would move forward to democracy. The US also understands our necessity,” Prayut said. “I also told the US that Thailand has its own problems. We’ll have to have measures to ensure the country becomes firmly democratic in the timelines,” he continued. “That could be designated by either me or by laws.”