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Rohingya riddle

Re: "Pressure mounts on Suu Kyi over Rakhine", (Opinion, May 21)

Larry Jagan writes that Myanmar is under growing pressure as the government "tries desperately to arrange for the return of nearly a million Muslim refugees" from Bangladesh.

However, there's not much evidence that Myanmar's government is "desperately" trying to arrange the return of the refugees, almost all of whom are Rohingya (though the column makes no mention of the "R" word, the use of which is opposed by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, her government and Myanmar's military, the Tatmadaw).

On March 30, a senior Myanmar foreign ministry official was quoted as saying that the government, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Development Programme, "have been planning to sign" an MoU on the repatriation of refugees in Bangladesh.

The official said negotiations had begun after the UN agencies submitted a proposal to the government on March 9.

On May 18, at high-level talks in Nay Pyi Taw, United States Agency for International Development Chief Mark Reed said that MoU negotations between Myanmars government, UNHCR, and the UNDP had "gained progress".

Meanwhile, negotations across the border in Bangladesh moved at lightning pace.

UNHCR and Bangladesh signed an MoU to cooperate on the safe, voluntary and dignified returns of refugees on April 9.

In a news release announcing the signing, UNHCR said a step that Myanmar "could immediately take" was to provide humanitarian groups with full and unhindered access to refugees' places of origin in Rakhine State, "which would enable UNHCR to assess the situation and provide information to refugees as well as to monitor any possible future return and reintegration of refugees".

The UNHCR and other groups are still waiting to be granted full access to northern Rakhine, nine months after the violence that created the refugee crisis.

Geoffrey Goddard


Who's the real boss?

I'd question the comments made in the online story, "judges' housing pull-down hits hitch". In the article, Ms Amornrat claims legality in removing the housing built at Doi Suthep. The definition of what is legal or illegal in Thailand rests heavily on the interpreter of either term. If the prime minister, army or police carry out an action, it is termed legal, even if it is illegal. So what's the big deal? If General Prayut gives the order to remove the housing, it will be removed. He is the person who deems something legal or illegal. After all, he is the boss, isn't he? And one usually does what the boss says.

David James Wong


Daily graft plague

It is hard not to be part of the corruption wheel. Here is an example from a regular day of my life in Thailand.

I needed some construction materials to complete a project at our resort. But first, I needed some gas for my rice farm truck. While in town, I headed to a nationally known shop to buy some smokes and an energy drink. On the side walk was a vendor selling fresh fruit to a couple of monks. As I was by the market, I bought some shrimp and a lottery ticket. As I headed back to the village, the police were setting up a traffic stop. Good thing, I keep my visa current. And I wish that the buses would stay on their side of the government-built road as one almost hit me. Glad my job is not being a labourer like a motorcycle taxi driver.

Throughout the years, I have either read in the Bangkok Post, been told by Thais or personally seen corruption in all of the above situations.

George Bowman


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