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Thailand’s land bridge plan still floating

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: www.skyscrapercity.com

Deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul says the government is still mulling the idea of a land bridge between the southern provinces of Ranong and Chumphon. The project’s aim would be to improve the infrastructure in the region by connecting the Gulf of Thailand directly with the Andaman Sea, “thereby making the Kingdom more competitive”. In a report in the Bangkok Post, she says the idea would be to better connect Middle Eastern and European oil producers with importers and manufacturers in Japan, South Korea and China.

Currently shipping from the two parts of the world needs to detour down the Mallacca Straits and swing around Singapore before continuing their journeys northward again. The land bridge would provide a more direct route but needs infrastructure for cargo to pass across the Malay Peninsula, aka. the Isthmus of Kra.

“Prime Minister Prayut gave us the guideline that we must be prudent and look at financial feasibility, cost-effectiveness, environmental impact and public acceptance. This land bridge project is a strategy to link the Middle East and East Asia via Thailand.”

It’s understood a feasibility study being carried out by the Ministry of Transport will take around a year to complete, followed by 2 more years to get all the necessary approvals and processes lined up prior to construction beginning. The land bridge would consist of a 130 kilometre motorway and a 2-track railway between the provinces of Chumphon and Ranong. These would connect deep-sea ports in both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, reducing travel time by 2 days.

The government is looking at development that can connect the Southern Economic Corridor region, which includes Chumphon, Ranong, Surat Thani, and Nakhon Si Thammarat, with the Eastern Economic Corridor of Chon Buri and Rayong.

The latest plans replace the much-discussed about Kra Canal project, which would have seen a canal crossing the country just south of Phuket and Krabi, creating a shorter journey time from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean. After being discussed for decades, the project has currently been shelved “on environmental grounds”.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Fabian

    Monday, October 12, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    “the idea would be to better connect Middle Eastern and European oil producers with importers and manufacturers in Japan, South Korea and China.”

    We are close to a tipping point where supply of oil is structurally getting higher than demand, according to OPEC. This might be in ten years (shortly after the land bridge will be finished). One important reason is that renewable energy is getting more and more cheap and efficient. Big companies like Shell understand this and start to make a transition to a business model based on renewable energy.

    Instead of building a land bridge, it would be better if Thailand invested in renewable energy. There is so much sun light here, that solar panels will be earned back in a few years. That allows Thailand to have very cheap (and clean) energy within a few years, making the country economically more competitive. Which is the whole intent of the to be built land bridge.

    • Avatar

      Luca

      Monday, October 12, 2020 at 12:17 pm

      Agree. And there are modern and cheaper ways of producing solar power by using lakes and lagoons instead of land or by using agrovoltaics whereby crops can be grown under solar panels for better and controlled production of vegetables.

  2. Avatar

    Issan John

    Monday, October 12, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    Unlikely Thailand will be paying …..

    • Avatar

      Anthony Peters

      Monday, October 12, 2020 at 3:27 pm

      But would be in debt for decades!
      It’s a pipe dream, will never happen.

  3. Avatar

    Bob Ume

    Monday, October 12, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    Why not focus the future on education and the English language for the Thai people, then you will have a brighter future for sure, don’t relay on China they will either concur you or ignore you.

    Oil will be in the passed in 25 years, focus on what you have a lot of here, sunshine and solar energy.

    • Avatar

      Robert Elliot

      Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 7:59 pm

      Oil will never pass it will supply the majority of the worlds energy for a very long time. Energy from the wind and sun cannot replace energy from fossil fuels.

  4. Avatar

    David James

    Monday, October 12, 2020 at 4:34 pm

    Simple suggestion from a quick look at the map why not build a large shipping canal across the tinnest point of southern Thailand to link the Sea and Gulf? Aka Panama canal style solution

    • The Thaiger & The Nation

      The Thaiger & The Nation

      Monday, October 12, 2020 at 5:50 pm

      That would be the Kra Canal proposal of which we have written countless stories over the years

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Insurgency

Thai ranger and 2 suspected insurgents killed in Thailand’s deep south

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/กรมทหารพรานที่ 47

In the ongoing violence from the Southern Thailand insurgency, 2 suspected insurgents and a Thai ranger were killed in a clash between security forces and an armed rebel group in Yala’s Krong Pinang district. Known as Thailand’s “deep south,” the provinces Yala, Narathiwat, and Pattani, along the Malaysia border, have been plagued with violence for years due to the religious separatist insurgency.

Law enforcement officers had received a tip that suspected insurgents, who were wanted on court warrants, were staying in the Batu Buela and Bae Chaeng villages. A team of police and soldiers, along with some civilians, were deployed to the villages. 30 year old Wan Asan Asu, who had a warrant out for his arrest, surrendered to officers while other suspected insurgents responded with gunfire.

Shots were fired from both sides for about 2 hours. Nopparit Sukson, a ranger of the Yala-based 47th Ranger Regiment, was killed in the clash. Officers searched the area after the gunfire exchange and found the bodies of 2 men who had warrants out for their arrest. Each had an AK47 rifle and one of them also had a pistol.

More officers have been called to help clear the area today.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Insurgency

Thailand’s Southern Insurgency – who’s fighting who?

Tim Newton

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Trouble in the ‘south’. Attacks against civilians and rangers. Insurgents attack Thai soldiers – the sorts of headlines that people have read about Thailand’s southern conflict for the past 70 years or so.

Thaiger readers may wonder who’s fighting who, and why. The area has been coined the ‘deep south’ or the ‘restive south’ and has become, statistically, a more bloody conflict than the situation on the Gaza Peninsula in the middle east – it just gets a lot less international coverage.

Where is the ‘south’? The three Thai provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, and sometimes Songkhla, are the locations where most of the violence takes place, all near or bordering Malaysia. The border, usually fluid with tourists and local trade, are now closed due to the current Covid situation.

Thailand's Southern Insurgency - who's fighting who? | News by Thaiger

Despite successive Thai and Malaysian governments throwing words and resources at the problem, very little has been done to reduce the spate of violence, usually affecting southern civilians as well.

The South Thailand insurgency (Thai: ความไม่สงบในชายแดนภาคใต้ของประเทศไทย; Malay: Pemberontakan di Selatan Thailand) is an ongoing conflict centered around southern Thailand’s disputed border region with Malaysia. Although there’s been bubbling discontent around the region since the start of the 20th century, it emerged as a serious issue for the Malaysian and Thai governments in 1948 as an ethnic and religious separatist insurgency in the historical Malay Patani region.

It has become a more complex ‘land grab’, and increasingly violent since the early 2000s due to drug cartels, oil smuggling networks, and occasionally even pirates.

The former Sultanate of Patani, which included the southern Thai provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, also known as the three Southern Border Provinces (SBP), as well as parts of neighbouring Songkhla province and the northeastern part of Malaysia (Kelantan), was conquered and, except for Kelantan, has been governed by, Thailand (formerly The Kingdom Siam) since 1785.

Although low-level separatist violence had occurred in the region for decades, the campaign escalated after 2001, with a major recurrence in 2004, and has occasionally spilled over into other provinces. Incidents blamed on southern insurgents, including bombings, have reached as far as the capital Bangkok and the holiday island Phuket.

In 2005, PM Thaksin Shinawatra assumed wide ranging emergency powers to deal with the southern violence, but his actions served only to escalate the insurgency. In September 2006, Thaksin was ousted in one of Thailand’s periodic military coups.

The subsequent junta implemented a major policy shift, replacing Thaksin’s earlier approach with a campaign to win over the “hearts and minds” of the insurgents. That didn’t have much effect either.

Despite little progress in curbing the violence, the junta declared that security was improving and that peace would come to the region by 2008. By March of that year, however, the death toll had surpassed 3,000.

During the Democrat-led government of Abhisit Vejjajiva, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya noted a “sense of optimism,” but by the end of 2010 insurgency-related violence had increased, confounding the government’s optimism. Finally in March 2011, the government conceded that violence was increasing and could not be solved in a few months.

Local leaders have persistently demanded at least a level of autonomy from Thailand for the Patani region and some of the separatist insurgent movements have made a series of demands for peace talks and negotiations. However, these groups have been largely sidelined by the Barisan Revolusi Nasional-Koordinasi (BRN-C), the Muslim fundamentalist group currently spearheading the insurgency. The BRN-C has as its announced aim to make southern Thailand ungovernable and it has largely been successful.

Estimates of the strength of the insurgency vary greatly. In 2004 General Pallop Pinmanee claimed that there were only 500 hardcore ‘jihadists’. Other estimates say there as many as 15,000 armed insurgents. Around 2004 some Thai analysts believed that foreign Islamic terrorist groups were infiltrating the area, and that foreign funds and arms were being brought in, though again, such claims were balanced by an equally large body of opinion suggesting this remains a distinctly local conflict.

Is it safe to travel through Thailand’s south? Mostly, yes. There is a lot of security and patrols around the area these days and the attacks are relatively rare. The Thai government have much better intel about possible attacks than in the past and react quickly to any potential security problems.

Over 6,500 people died and almost 12,000 were injured between 2004 and 2015 in a formerly ethnic separatist insurgency, which has currently been taken over by hard-line jihadis and pitted them against both the Thai-speaking Buddhist minority and local Muslims who have a moderate approach or who support the Thai government.

You can read another aspect of the southern conflict from The Thaiger…

Boom boom on the border – Thailand’s unlikely red-light district

For a timeline of major events in the Southern Insurgency, click HERE.

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Locals threaten to burn hall if converted to field hospital

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: Locals fear a field hospital will bring Covid-19 to their neighbourhood.

Citing fears of Covid-19 spreading, terrified locals threatened to burn down a Nakhon Si Thammarat conference hall authorities were preparing as a possible field hospital. The hall in the Muang district was one of several locations provincial authorities were readying as potential makeshift medical care facilities if the Covid-19 outbreak worsens. As of now, the governor chose 3 sites at Phra Phrom Hospital, Walailak University and Phor Than Khlai Hospital to be used for field hospitals, so far avoiding this panicked backlash.

Residents hung banners in front of Thung Thalad conference hall with messages of opposition, with one sign saying directly that if the municipality sets up a field hospital, the residents of Na Khian will burn it down. Local leaders explain that the townspeople are terrified that patients will be brought from other areas with their Covid-19 infections and the medical facility would bring an outbreak of Coronavirus in their neighbourhood.

The local residents did offer a concession, however, as an alternative to the hall they threatened to burn if converted to a field hospital. Townspeople said they would allow Ban Khlong Din School to use one building as a quarantine facility only for local people who are at risk of infection. The 3 field hospitals that the provincial communicable disease control panel had already agreed to set up would only be used to treat patients from established hospitals who were experiencing only mild symptoms.

In Nakhon Si Thammarat now, tourist-friendly walking streets and markets are temporarily closed and fresh markets and flea markets would also be closed for 2 days to undergo a thorough cleaning and disinfection. Service establishments and other Covid-19 prone businesses had been closed for 14 days, but that order was extended indefinitely until the outbreak calms. Festivals and other large group gatherings have been cancelled and banned as well. The only exception is for funerals, where Covid-19 safety protocols must be strictly enforced and attendees limited to 50 people.

SOURCE: Phuket News

 

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