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Kra Canal – the 28 Billion Baht shortcut

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Kra Canal – the 28 Billion Baht shortcut | The Thaiger

By Jintana Panyaarvudh

Despite a history going back three centuries, the highly controversial and politically sensitive proposed Kra Canal mega-project in southern Thailand is once again up for debate. At a forum held yesterday by Rangsit University entitled the “Stakeholders in Kra Canal@Klong Thai”, national security and the canal’s impact on tourism were among the main issues of concern as experts made their cases for and against the project.

The Kra Canal project would cut a canal through the Malay Peninsula to allow east-west passage of ships from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean without having to detour all the way south around Singapore island at the bottom of the Peninsula.

The forum urged the government to set up a national committee to conduct a feasibility study on all concerned aspects of the “New Gateway to Maritime Silk Road” project.

General Pongthep Thesprateep, chairman of Thai Canal Association (TCA) – a group of influential former top brass soldiers advocating the project – called on the government to set up a national committee that can help reach a decisive conclusion on the long-envisioned channel that would run through the country’s southern isthmus.

Kra Canal - the 28 Billion Baht shortcut | News by The Thaiger

“The project has both pros and cons, so if the committee concludes that the canal would benefit the country it should be pursued, otherwise the proposed project can be scrapped,” Pongthep said, referring to many discussions about the project in Thai society for more than a century that had led to no clear decision.

According to a study by TCA, he said the canal would benefit the country as it would connect the Indian and Pacific oceans and dramatically shorten East-West shipping routes. The TCA study claims that 65 per cent of people in the South, which will be affected by the project, were agreeable to it.

Anek Laothamatas, the Political Reform Committee chairman who was introduced at the forum as an expert on the route proposal for the canal, said that in ancient times people travelled by sea hence he thought Thailand needed to exercise its “sea power”, as the Kingdom has an advantage in geo-politics. Thailand is among a few countries that benefits from its location between two oceans – Pacific and Indian – while China, a country 20 times bigger than Thailand, has access to only one ocean, Anek said.

“It’s not a big deal or a new matter. We should not be afraid. We should be brave [to make a decision]. Our country has developed to this stage because we are linked to the sea. We should not see it as an obstruction but a linkage with others,” he said.

Samart Ratchapolsitte, former Bangkok deputy governor and ex-Democrat MP, suggested that the government treat the project as state policy and initiate a Southern Economic Corridor similar to its Eastern Economic Corridor initiative. Samart supported the setting up of a national committee to study the project as he was concerned about the worthiness of the project or how many cargo ships would use the new route, as compared to the existing routes.

An opponent of the canal project, Admiral Jumpol Loompikanon, a deputy permanent secretary at the Defence Ministry, said the country needed to balance geo-politics and geo-economics. Jumpol, a Royal Thai Navy spokesman and a member of the marine and coastal resources strategy panel, added that judging from the past he was worried about disputes arising between super powers and neighbouring countries. He cited the conflict over the Spratly Islands between China and the Philippines. He said it was difficult for security agencies to decide whether to pursue the project because more comprehensive information was still needed.

Thon Thamrongnawasawat, the deputy dean of the fisheries faculty at Kasetsart University, raised concerns over the impact on tourism and environment if a canal was dug as proposed. The proposed route will pass some tourist attractions in the South, including Phuket and Krabi. The tourism industry generates around 3 trillion baht for the country annually and is ranked number three in the world, according to a report of the World Tourism Organisation, he said. Torn did not express an opinion on the project but cautioned about the dangers to tourism and the environment, citing the oil spill in the Gulf of Thailand, off the coast of Koh Samet and Map Ta Phut in Rayong Province in 2013.

“What is the risk management going to be like? The proposed canal route would run past tourist areas in the Andaman Sea that generate about 40 per cent or almost 2 trillion baht of the total revenue from the tourism industry,” he added.

Former Second Army commander Lt-General Tawatchai Samutsakorn, who supported the idea of setting up a committee to study the project, said PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha had told him that the premier would not be in power long enough to pursue the project.

“Prayut told me that the right time [for the project] has yet to come,” Tawatchai, a former classmate of Prayut, told the forum. However, Tawatchai believes any political party campaigning for the proposed man-made waterway, which will link the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean, could win at least 10,000 votes from voters in each of the southern provinces in the next election.

Tawatchai claimed that former prime minister and chief adviser of the Democrat Party, Chuan Leekpai, whose political stronghold lies in the South, supported the project and said if the country delays making progress, it would lag behind other countries.

Kra Canal - the 28 Billion Baht shortcut | News by The Thaiger



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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    C. Lancaster

    May 16, 2019 at 11:20 am

    I very much doubt there will be an environmental impact – the tourist areas are far from the canal entrances anyway: way down near Satun on the west side. Singapore has the highest concentration of shipping in the world and the cleanest beaches I’ve ever seen, and very little pollution. I sail around Singapore waters regularly, being a marine captain, so I see it for myself. There is way more plastic etc already in Thai waters, just from river and klong runoff, i.e. the Thai population polluting their own country.

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Krabi

Three injured in fresh seafood pickup accident in Krabi

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Three injured in fresh seafood pickup accident in Krabi | The Thaiger

A pickup truck has lost control and collided with a fresh seafood pickup truck in Krabi. Locals helped to collect the fresh seafood and take it back to the pickup truck. The incident is the third ‘seafood’ crash incident this week.

Klongtom Police were notified of the incident yesterday afternoon on Petchkasem Road in Klogtom.

Police and emergency responders arrived to find fresh and other seafood scattered all over the road. Nearby they found two damaged pickup trucks.

Three injured people were stuck inside the pickups. They sustained serious injuries and were taken to the local hospital.

Witnesses say one pickup truck lost control then collided with another pickup truck which was carrying the fresh seafood. Locals were helping to collect the fresh seafood and pack it back in the storage boxes.

Three injured in fresh seafood pickup accident in Krabi | News by The Thaiger Three injured in fresh seafood pickup accident in Krabi | News by The Thaiger Three injured in fresh seafood pickup accident in Krabi | News by The Thaiger Three injured in fresh seafood pickup accident in Krabi | News by The Thaiger Three injured in fresh seafood pickup accident in Krabi | News by The Thaiger Three injured in fresh seafood pickup accident in Krabi | News by The Thaiger

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Bangkok

IKEA Thailand launches full online store

The Thaiger & The Nation

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IKEA Thailand launches full online store | The Thaiger

“…it took IKEA about two years to study the market demand, develop the infrastructure, and prepare everything before launching their e-commerce service in Southeast Asia.”

by Kwanchai Rungfapairsarn

IKEA Thailand has announced the official launch of its IKEA Online Store as it gets set to better provide for individual customers across the Kingdom.

IKEA Thailand say the seamless online shopping experience will offer the same journey and impression customers get when they visit a physical IKEA store.

“We see the potential – it is a potential in Thailand for IKEA. We have only been accessible within Bangkok so far, and now we will be accessible for people from across the country,” Lacia Sherlock, the deputy retail manager for Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines, said.

“The delivery prices need to be affordable and all the services need to be accessible for consumers living outside of Bangkok, so that they are able to get the assembly or whatever they need.”

IKEA has developed the full e-commerce platform for modern shoppers providing a convenient channel to access it products and inspirations, 24 hours a day and from anywhere in Thailand.

Sherlock said it took IKEA about two years to study the market demand, develop the infrastructure, and prepare everything before launching their e-commerce service in Southeast Asia.

“We aim to provide an impressive online shopping experience similar to the shopping experience customers get when visiting our physical stores. The online store has been available in Singapore and Malaysia within Southeast Asia.”

“We are pleased to now be able to provide this access to Thais. We have been wanting to do this for a long time, along with providing them with a superior experience and inspiration through both of our two Bangkok stores,” said Sherlock.

IEA soft-launched its e-commerce service in Thailand on March 26 in order to test the system and procedures and ensure they were fully functional before yesterday’s official launch.

“We are looking at achieving 17,000 online orders this year. We believe that the IKEA Online Store will help strengthen IKEA Thailand and drive sustainable growth, as our popular in-store shopping experience is complemented by our new online offering.”

IKEA Thailand launches full online store | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Nation

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Business

Watch out Thailand, here comes Vietnam

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Watch out Thailand, here comes Vietnam | The Thaiger

“Vietnam is poised to take advantage of the next wave of digital technologies such as blockchain, AI (artificial intelligence), internet of things and cloud-based services to become Asia’s next high-performing economy and improve the living standards of its residents.”

Dr Lucy Cameron, from Australia, lead author of the report “Vietnam’s Future Digital Economy Towards 2030 and 2045”, says the country should carefully navigate a number of risks while undertaking digital transformation. She was presenting her findings in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday.

“Vietnam has been one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and has already become one of the most dynamic countries in East Asia,” she said.

“A boom in digital hardware and software exports has occurred, and Vietnam’s young population is rapidly taking up new mobile internet services,” according to the report.

But the report also noted some challenges.

“The population is ageing, while climate change and rapid development is straining the environment and food production as the country rapidly urbanises. The workforce needs to learn higher-level skills, especially as jobs are becoming automated in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.”

Australian Ambassador Craig Chittick said the report was the first major output of the Aus4Innovation partnership between Australia and Vietnam.

“It will guide our work over the next three years as we deepen the collaborative linkages between our two countries and help strengthen the Vietnamese innovation system as it adapts to the challenges and opportunities of the digital economy,” he said.

SOURCE: The Nation

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