The book is part of a larger study sponsored by the research fund.
Poksak admitted for the first time that he was against the idea of granting Burma Asean membership unless the regime demonstrated progress towards democratisation. He had rejected the argument that the junta would move that much closer to China if the regional grouping did not permit the military regime to join its family.
More than 10 years have passed and the junta isn't as close to China as it was back then. Moreover, said Poksak, by losing its biggest leverage, Asean membership, Thailand has little left to influence the course of Burma's political direction.
So why should Thailand be so concerned about Burma's democratisation and reconciliation? Poksak argued in his book that, essentially, Thailand is a stakeholder. A healthy Burma is good for Thailand. A trouble-wracked Burma, said Poksak, would continue to plague Thailand with illegal migrants, human smuggling, border insurgency and illicit drugs.
Like Surapong, Poksak was criticised for his stance towards Burma on grounds that it violated Asean's long-standing tradition of non-interference. But the two are no longer wearing ambassadorial hats and deemed it necessary to make public their positions.
One of the mistakes, said Poksak, was that successive Thai governments relied too heavily on military-to-military contacts in their dealings with the Burmese, while more emphasis should have been placed on diplomacy.
Poksak said Burma's military intelligence apparatus was one of the world's best but all that came to an abrupt end when then spy chief for the junta, General Khin Nyunt, was sacked in a power play within the junta. But even with Khin Nyunt and his entire intelligence operation out of the picture, the Army's grip on the country remained strong in spite of the fact that the much-feared intelligence-gathering mechanism was abruptly removed.
According to Surapong, real change will be hard to come by in Burma, given the climate of fear. Even in the face of great international pressure following the monk-led demonstrations that were bloodily crushed by the junta, and Cyclone Nargis that claimed the lives of tens of thousands, the junta continues to place the interest of the regime above the needs of its people, regardless of the level of disaster.
The regime knows what it wants and doesn't want and has played its cards well, said Surapong. The junta, he said, has somewhat successfully used its natural resources and its strategic location as bargaining chips in its dealings with China, Asean, India and the United States.
Surapong said one of the biggest concerns for the time being is that the international community, fatigued with the fact that their tough policy against the regime has not produced the desired outcome, will decide to wash their hands of the Burma problem if and when the general election, scheduled for 2010, is pushed through.
Considering the fact that Burma's Constitution was overwhelmingly approved (according to the Burmese government, more than 90 per cent of the voters approved it), don't be surprised if all the parliamentarian seats in the general election next year go to the junta.