Power play on the border: Thai electricity authority shocks Myanmar towns with supply halt

Photo Courtesy of Bangkok Post

The Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) of Thailand halted the supply of electricity to two Myanmar border towns following a request from the Myanmar government. These towns, located across the Moei River, have been the site of significant illegal investments by groups of Chinese businessmen.

Shwe Kokko and Ban Le Le Ko, both situated in Myanmar’s Karen State, are the two border towns affected by the power cut. Shwe Kokko is located opposite Thailand’s Ban Wang Pha in Tambon Mae Charao, Mae Ramat district, while Ban Le Le Ko is situated opposite Mae Ku Mai Tha Sung, the Moo 3 village in Tambon Mae Ku, Mae Sot district. Chinese investors have reportedly poured over US$1.5 billion into casinos, entertainment complexes, and housing estates in Shwe Kokko, with similar investments made in Ban Le Le Ko.

The Myanmar government’s request to cut off the electricity supply to these towns has been met with compliance from the PEA, which stopped providing power from midnight. However, the reasons behind this decision remain unclear, with some speculating that it may be connected to a memorandum of understanding signed by Thailand, China, and Myanmar. This agreement focuses on the joint suppression of drugs, cross-border criminals, online gambling, and call centres.

A Thai businessman involved in cross-border trade revealed that residents of Shwe Kokko had anticipated the power outage and purchased generators for their personal use, reported Bangkok Post.

Last week, the Thai authorities apprehended a Chinese businessman in Pattaya on charges of money laundering over 2.5 billion baht for the scam call centre gang based in Cambodia.

The crackdown, led by the Thai Immigration Bureau (TIMB), was carried out in response to instances of criminal behaviour causing harm to citizens and tarnishing the country’s image. Details of the operation were released during a press conference at 11am today.

The TIMB revealed that the Chinese Embassy notified the Thai authorities about the suspect, 40 year old Xu Wei, who is wanted in China. Read more about the story HERE.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.