During a three-day visit to Thailand, Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing, Burma’s commander-in-chief, talked to Bangkok Post reporters Wassana Nanuam and Kornchanok Raksaseri on the occasion of his receiving a second royal decoration from Thailand, the Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant.
How do you feel to have received the royal decoration?
I have received the royal decoration because [Burma] is a good neighbouring country and the borders are 2,000 kilometres long. We also have similar culture and religion.
The relationship between the two armed forces is quite good. This is why I have received the royal decoration, and I am proud of it.
The military leaders of both countries have been quite close for some years now.
I have had a close relationship with Thai generals starting with [chief of Defence Forces] General Tanasak Patimapragorn’s predecessor, General Songkitti [Jaggabatara].
The one I was closest to is General Tanasak [who served in the post between 2011-14], but I am also close to the others. His successors are General Worapong [Sanganetra] and General Sommai [Kaotira], then General Surapong [Suwana-adth] and the current chief, General Thanchaiyan [Srisuwan].
The close relationship led to trust and a better relationship between your military and mine.
The relationship between the two countries constantly develops.
The exchange of visits of leaders of the armed forces occurs often, especially General Tanasak visiting Myanmar, and I also come to Thailand often.
Would you consider the relationship in the manner of friends or brothers?
We are like brothers.
Every time we meet, we exchange experiences.
Thailand is experienced in democracy and has passed so many things.
When we are close like brothers, we open up and share the experience.
The good things in this era contributed to the changes in Myanmar’s democracy. The democratic process in Myanmar took place at the same time as the exchanges of experience.
The closer [the military leaders became], the more open the discussion between us.
Thailand is also in the process of going back to democracy at the moment. What can we learn from Myanmar? What is your advice?
Each country’s democracy has a different background. Myanmar’s background of democracy is one thing. Thailand’s democracy is different. We can only make use of good things we can apply but we cannot say whose lessons should be applied to whom. In fact, a democracy or political system needs to be stable and not shaken. If it’s stable, the people will have confidence and live happily.
How will the countries cooperate in the future?
In many ways; so many.