Executive Intelligence Review


Kra Canal Debate Heats Up in Thailand

Feb. 13, 2018 (EIRNS)—Last week the Thai government responded to the rapidly increasing pressure to move ahead with the Kra Canal, by issuing a vague statement which implies that the issue is finally being studied at a national level, but also asserting that it has not been approved and is not high on the list. A number of articles have appeared over the week claiming that the government message means either one thing or the opposite.

Today’s Bangkok Post runs an article titled, “Kra Phoenix Rises Again,” reviewing the constantly recurring calls for the Canal, and stating that the Chinese are now interested, but won’t push for it unless the Thai government is behind it. It refers to proposals from the United States and Russia in the past to use peaceful nuclear explosions. A Nov. 21, 2016 article in the Journal of Shipping and Trade reports, “The estimated bunker savings for a 100,000 dwt oil tanker is $350,000 per trip.”

Pakdee Tanapura, International Director of the Thai Canal Association, wrote a letter to the editor of the Bangkok Post countering the two most common arguments against the canal: that it would undermine Singapore, and that it would divide Thailand. Tanapura writes: “1) With the gigantic investment of about $55 billion to begin with, the Kra Canal would not only help to jump-start the Thai economy but would create also a ripple effect among the ASEAN countries which would benefit from such an ambitious mega-project. Singapore, a well-developed economy would be an integral part of this process. 2) ... A canal across the Isthmus in the South of Thailand does not represent, neither from the de jure nor from the de facto standpoints, a division of the country. On the contrary, a prosperous economy in the South will definitely lead to the reduction of the economic and cultural gap among the people. Any conflict can easily be mitigated among Thais without any outside interference.”