Thailand plans to cut electricity supplies to illegal casinos along the Salween River on Myanmar’s side of the border after June 6.
According to Benar News, the decision was made after Myanmar’s Embassy requested the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) in Bangkok to switch off power supplies to Lay Kay Kaw and Shwe Kokko in Myawaddy Township, Karen State.
Shwe Kokko, just north of the Thai border town of Mae Sot, is notorious as a criminal hub for online gambling, scamming and trafficking, and under the control of the pro-junta Karen State Border Guard Force (BGF) led by Colonel Saw Chit Thu.
Around 20km south is KK Park, another hub of online scams, gambling and human trafficking, allegedly backed by leaders of Myanmar’s oldest ethnic armed organization, the Karen National Union. Myanmar’s military is also believed to share in the profits from the illicit business.
The PEA informed the Tak Province governor and district chief of Mae Sot about the decision to cut electricity to Lay Kay Kaw and Shwe Kokko.
The request by Myanmar’s Embassy came after Chinese ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hai’s meeting with junta Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Soe Htut on Wednesday when Chen urged Soe Htut to step up efforts to combat cross-border crime, online fraud and gambling.
PEA and Shwe Myint Thaung Yinn Industry and Manufacturing Co Ltd have had electricity contracts since 2016. For Shwe Kokko, the partners signed an 8MW power deal.
According to sources quoted by Benar News, electricity will be cut to Shwe Kokko, a casino controlled by the BGF in Myawaddy and BGF-run security gates and residential areas.
The BGF was unavailable for comment.
Observers do not believe the electricity shutdown will stop the casinos operating.
“In Shwe Kokko, they have five to 10 power generators,” Somchai Trithipchartsakul was quoted by Benar News as saying.
Observers said the junta’s request to Thailand to cut electricity supplies suggests China’s dominant role in bilateral relations.