Resident Neighbour: Retribution

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In an apparent move to boost tourism and bring tourist dollars into the country, the Thai Cabinet agreed to waive visa measures for a total of 93 countries. ILLUSTRATION: PIX FOR VISUAL PURPOSE/PXHERE

The announcement by the Foreign Ministry of Thailand at the end of May, if anything, reflected how welcoming the Thais have become towards Myanmar citizens entering their land. The Ministry released a list of 93 nations whose citizens can enter Thailand without a visa or obtain a visa on arrival and can stay for up to 60 days. You would have caught the drift that the list excluded citizens of Myanmar.
In an apparent move to boost tourism and bring tourist dollars into the country, the Thai Cabinet agreed to waive visa measures for a total of 93 countries. This list includes the 57 nations whose citizens were allowed to stay in Thailand for 30 days without a visa, 13 nations for whom the visa requirement was recently waived, an additional six nations whose citizens will be allowed to stay here without a visa for 60 days and 17 new nations that are now eligible for 60 days VOA (Visa on Arrival).
The 57 nations who were already enjoying a visa waiver and can now get a 60-day stamp (an upgrade from the previous 30 days) on arrival included all first-world countries and some ASEAN counterparts such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
The 13 nations whose citizens were already getting a 30-day VOA and will now be getting a 60-day stamp included populous countries such as India, as well as smaller nations such as Fiji, Malta and Bhutan.
The six newbies’ countries, whose citizens are getting 60-day Visas, would be the hardest for Myanmar to take. They included nations whose citizens would only get 14 days of VOA, just like Myanmar citizens prior to this announcement. They would now enjoy a visa waiver and a 60-day stay. The gang of six comprises China, Laos, Macau, Mongolia, Russia and Cambodia. The two ASEAN neighbours are, in fact, poorer than Myanmar until 2017, based on GDP per capita.
To rub salt further into the wound, 17 new nations are added to the list that are eligible for 60 days of VOA. These nations included those countries whose citizens do not usually visit Southeast Asia: Guatemala, Kosovo, Panama, Cuba, Colombia, Dominica, Ecuador, etc., to name a few.
The resident neighbour has furtively put its long-standing next-door acquaintance the second fiddle by shutting it out of the list of welcoming visitors onto its land. As the saying goes, ‘poverty is the worst form of discrimination’. Hopefully, it would become a wake-up call to the government not to be complacent, being the king frog in a small well.

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