The six-day exercise, which concludes tomorrow, marks the 53rd year that Thailand and Malaysia have conducted their annual “SEAEX Thamal” joint naval drill.
Vice Admiral Taratorn Kajitsuwan, Commander of the Third Naval Area base at Cape Panwa, on Phuket’s east coast, welcomed his Royal Malaysian Navy counterpart Rear Admiral Pahlawan Mior Rosdi to Phuket on Tuesday.
“We train with the Malaysian Naval Command in Langkawi every year to build relations and reduce conflict between our two countries. These exercises also help to develop our skills and experience, increasing effectiveness,” V/Adm Taratorn explained.
The Thai ships are engaging in coordinated exercises with five Malaysian Navy vessels. The operations are primarily focused on countermeasures to piracy, diesel smuggling and the human-trafficking of stateless Rohingya people through the Straits of Malacca.
Speaking on the issue of how the Royal Thai Navy treat Rohingya who are apprehended in Thai waters, V/Adm Taratorn said, “By law, they are to be repatriated. However, the [Thai] Navy is trying to discuss with Burma how to deal with the Rohingya problem.”
“As a matter of human rights, we always try to do our best to treat Rohingya decently, such as by providing them with food, clothing and medical supplies. However, we have a duty to look after our country’s best interests. If we let them enter the country illegally, Thai people would be disadvantaged,” he said.
— Atchaa Khamlo
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