Proposed Kra Canal not current government priority, says Thailand

According to a government spokesman, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha insisted that his government did not have a policy on the project. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (BERNAMA) The Thai Government has made it clear that the proposed Kra Canal project is neither a priority currently nor does it have a policy on the proposed man-made waterway which will link the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

A government spokesman, Lieutenant General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha had insisted his government did not have a policy on the project.

"There are still other 'problems' in the area, therefore they (the other problems) must be prioritised," he said in a statement, in response to a movement by a group led by influential figures in drumming up support for the highly controversial multi-billion dollar project.

The group has been encouraging the public to share their thoughts online on the project as well as specially composed songs in support of the realisation of the Kra Canal.

Lt Gen Sansern urged the people in southern Thailand to exercise caution upon receiving messages supporting the Kra Canal project as it could be misleading and create misunderstanding among the public.

Currently, the government according to Lt Gen Sansern, was still weighing the positive and negative aspects of the proposed canal, which ultimately called for the construction of the more than 100km-long canal in the southern Istmus of southern Thailand.

Among a number of issues that needed consideration, he said, included security and cost of the project.

Supporters of the project have called for the canal's speedy construction, as it will be a boon to the shipping industry with commercial ships on the Indian-Pacific ocean route saving on cost for not having to traverse the congested and narrow Melaka Straits.

However, security observers in Thailand have voiced concern on the project due to its location in southern Thailand which for two decades has been the scene of a low-intensity conflict between government forces and militant groups.

They are also worried the construction of the canal would split the country into two and eventually, lead to the break up of the restive southern Thailand.

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