A STOREKEEPER defends me from Burmese beggars as I tuck into an American breakfast.

She swats away the dusty, stateless people who have a longing in their eyes unknown in the West.

At work is a kind of greed – the storekeeper wants my money and doesn’t want her clientele bothered.

But as I browse my laptop, there is news the ruling Burmese military junta has approved a new deep-sea port at Tavoy.

This reflects a different type of greed.

It too transcends international boundaries, is difficult to pin down, but puts petrol in cars and powers economies.

Tavoy is in geographical terms a fluke, but in economic terms a potential money-saver.

If the narrow landmass it clings to can be traversed it means shipping time for the world economy is dramatically reduced.

And the Burmese generals have control of a sliver of that landmass, half of it in fact.

Thailand controls the other half.

So between them Thailand and Burma have great power over what happens in this part of the world.

And so that Thailand is welcomed to provide relief for Cyclone Nargis survivors should be no surprise.

Thailand controls the huge task of laying a pipeline across that part of the world.

But only with the acquiescence of Burma’s generals.

As the international community lusts for petroleum power, the junta has discovered it has bucket-loads of it and is being courted by multinational companies.

It is Thai interests doing the power-broking, but on behalf of the multi-nationals that are actively buying Burmese gas.

And still the beggars fill Mae Sot’s streets.

What of protests against what is happening?

The Karen National Union’s foreign minister David Taw puts it this way: “You can protest all you want and what do you get? The boot or the gun.”

In its simplicity such a comment is tragic.

Dan Pedersen Thailand

The Karen National Union’s foreign minister David Taw puts it this way: “You can protest all you want and what do you get? The boot or the gun.”