Executive Intelligence Review


Thai Prime Minister Launches Kra Canal Study

Oct. 30, 2018 (EIRNS)—For the first time, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered the primary economic planning group, the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), and the Office of the National Security Council (NSC) to “look into a proposed canal project connecting the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea,” according to the Bangkok Post today. Prime Minister Prayut has, until today, insisted that he would not move on the Kra Canal, but leave it for whatever government comes in when they finally hold elections, which are expected next year.

This announcement comes after a growing discussion internationally about the Canal, with the Panamanian Vice President Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado offering her country’s support while visiting Thailand last week, and former German Defense Minister Rudolf Sharping telling a conference in Germany that the Canal was being planned and that Germany should pay attention.

The Post reports that retired Army Commander Thawatchai Samutsakorn, the Vice President of the Thai Canal Association (TCA) which promotes the Canal and has worked with Chinese and Japanese organizations which are interested, had called for an exploratory committee to be set up before the military leadership steps down. “After the poll, when we have [active] opposition parties [again], they would oppose the campaign without taking into account the potential benefits to the country and the public,” General Thawatchai said.

Pakdee Tanapura, a longtime friend of the LaRouche movement in Thailand, has been the driving force in mobilizing support for the Kra Canal since the 1980s.

General Thawatchai said the Kra Canal would complement the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), Prayut’s primary focus for Thai development. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping directly discussed joint investments in the Thai EEC during their summit last week in Beijing. If China and Japan begin joint projects in Thailand, the issue of cooperation in building the Kra Canal would clearly be on the agenda.

“If we dig the canal, we would become the leader of ASEAN,” General Thawatchai said.

On the opposition claim that the Canal would divide the country and encourage the insurgents in the south of the country, General Thawatchai said: “If the villagers have [more] money, they certainly wouldn’t consider joining an insurgency.”

He also said that besides China and Japan, Germany is also ready to invest in the project.