Malaysian border fence plan hailed

Thai security authorities on Monday hailed Malaysia’s plan to prevent cross-border crime by building a fence along the Sungai Kolok River, which separates Kelantan state from the southern province of Narathiwat.

Col Adisak Prachakittikul, secretary to the Thai-Malaysian Regional Border Committee (RBC), said his Malaysian counterparts had not officially informed him about the plan, though there is no need for them to do so, since there are no territorial disputes in the area.

He said the authorities had learned about the proposals from media coverage, but that the fence “will likely be a boon" for Thailand, since it will help to prevent "smuggling of tax-evading goods” and other illegal cross-border activities.

In May, army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha proposed the construction of a fence along the entire 640-km Thai-Malaysian border, to deter southern insurgents from moving freely across the frontier. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra backed the idea.

The new Malaysian security barrier would allow Thailand to skip building part of its proposed fence along the Sungai Kolok river bank on the Thai side, Col Adisak said.

The Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) is meanwhile conducting a survey on the Thai border fence plan suggested by Gen Prayut, to determine where exactly it should be constructed and what type of fence would be best suited to the varying terrains, he added.

The New Straits Times of Malaysia reported on its website on Sunday that the Home Ministry planned to fence off areas connected to Kelantan's border with Thailand, which spans 121km, as a security measure to prevent cross-border crime.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the plan would involve constructing a wall and perimeter fencing along the banks of Sungai Golok. 

He said the construction would be carried out as quickly as possible, because problems with crime in Kelantan were worse than those faced in other states.

Zahid said that the wall and perimeter fence would deter drugs and firearms smuggling activities and stop criminals from fleeing across territories.

He said residents living along the river would not be relocated, but all illegal jetties would be destroyed and more policemen would be assigned to the area.

Related search: Thai-Malaysian border, fence, security, Sungai Kolok, Kelantan, Narathiwat, smuggling, Prayuth Chan-ocha

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Writer: Wassana Nanuam
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