Deputy PM confident 49 Thais to be freed prior to Myanmar leader’s visit

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BANGKOK, July 9 – Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Gen Yuthasak Sasiprapa said on Monday that 49 Thais earlier detained by Myanmar authorities for encroaching on the neighbour’s territory will likely to be released prior to the visit of Myanmar President Thein Sein later this month.

The Thai deputy prime minister expressed his optimistic view regarding Bangkok’s move to help secure the release of Thai nationals — 41 men and eight women — who were detained by Myanmar troops last week for allegedly cutting trees and clearing a forest area to plant para rubber trees in Myanmar territory at Koh Song, opposite Ranong’s Kra Buri district.

Gen Yutthasak said Col Pornsak Poolsavasdi of the Thai-Myanmar Border Committee is now coordinating with his Myanmar counterpart to secure their release.

“The Myanmar authorities told (us) not to worry about the matter as the detained Thai who were defrauded to work there will be released,” Gen Yutthasak said. “They are expected to be released before Myanmar President Thein Sein’s official visit to Thailand scheduled for July 22.”

Gen Yutthasak said that some 200 Thais were defrauded by brokers to build homes and grow para rubber trees in Myanmar, claiming that the Myanmar government would sell land to them.

Those who were lured came from Chumphon, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Krabi and Ranong provinces, according to the deputy premier.

Gen Yutthasak also warned that a similar problem could also happen with residents in Tak’s Mae Sot district which shares its border with Myanmar.

In the future, the Thai and Myanmar government may seek an agreement to allow Thais to temporarily rent the neighbour’s land for para rubber plantation, he suggested.