Former Thai Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh traveled to Mon State on Tuesday, where he met with senior state officials and said that Thailand would invest US $20 billion in the Burmese economy. Chavalit, who was close to Burma’s former military rulers, led a delegation of Thai businessmen who expressed interest in investing in hotels, hospitals, roads, power plants and agriculture. There was also some discussion of upgrading the airport in the state capital Moulmein to facilitate direct air links with Thailand.

Chavalit also reportedly asked Ohn Myint, the chief minister of Mon State, what else Thailand could do to help develop the state.

Local business leaders welcomed the visit, saying it would boost the economy.

“Our Mon people will have more job opportunities with this investment. It will be good for our people,” said Nai Khun Chan of the Moulmein-based Tamain Baran Company, who attended Tuesday’s meeting.

“Our state produces a lot of raw rubber and we don’t have the skill to refine it. We may get the skill from them [Thailand],” he added.

Chavalit was invited to visit the state by Mon businessmen living in Thailand, which also has a large ethnic Mon community.

According to Nai Lyi Rot, an ethnic Mon businessman and Thai national who accompanied the former Thai prime minister, the delegation will travel next to Naypyidaw to meet with President Thein Sein.

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