ASEAN air force leaders’ meet in Myanmar with Thai Air Force on board

Picture courtesy of Bangkok Post.

A meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) air force leaders, chaired by Myanmar, is currently underway with the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) in attendance. The conference in Nay Pyi Taw sees the participation of ACM Alongkorn Wannarot, the RTAF commander, alongside air force leaders from Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Brunei, according to a report by activist group Justice for Myanmar.

However, several Southeast Asian counterparts, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, have opted to boycott the event due to it being held and led by the military junta of Myanmar. Singapore also refrained from sending a representative.

These four ASEAN nations previously expressed strong demands for Myanmar’s military junta to cease violence against its citizens and adhere to an ASEAN peace plan agreed upon in 2021, which has since been ignored.

Myanmar has been sidelined from most high-level ASEAN meetings, including the leaders’ summit, for the past two years, the report stated.

Deputy Defence Secretary Maung Maung Swe of Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government expressed approval of the boycotts, stating they mirror the increasing isolation the junta has been experiencing since the coup in February 2021.

Despite the boycotts, the ASEAN Air Chiefs Conference will proceed until Friday, focusing predominantly on environmental issues. Myanmar’s air force chief, ACM Htun Aung, announced this year’s theme as Asian Air Forces’ Cooperation for a Sustainable Environment.

The RTAF declared its intention to collaborate with its ASEAN peers to curb carbon emissions and air pollution to safeguard the environment. The consequences of air pollution, largely due to ultra-fine dust originating from agricultural burning, have been felt across the region. To combat this, the RTAF has developed a rainmaking squad.

ACM Alongkorn extended an invitation to the ASEAN Air Force chiefs at the meeting to participate in the ASEAN HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) Exercise 2025 in Thailand. This initiative aims to improve their collective ability to respond to natural disasters. The 2024 Asian Air Chiefs Conference will be hosted by Cambodia. Bangkok Post reported.

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Atima Homtientong

Atima is a dedicated news writer living in Bangkok. With a degree from Mahidol University, she focuses on reporting key issues and happenings around the country. In her off time, Atima enjoys writing and producing music.

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