Get Kra Canal done
Re: "PM, a plan and a canal" (BP, Oct 31).
As stated in the article, the Kra Canal has been under study for over 300 years. The canal across the narrowest part of southern Thailand will connect the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea and. As per the article, shipping containers would be able to save time and money by using the canal to bypass the peninsular Malaysia. It will help ensure their safety from pirates that roam around the Strait of Malacca.
Annual revenues from the Panama Canal are reported to be in excess of US$2 billion, while Egypt's longer Suez Canal annual revenues are said to be in excess of $5 billion per year. However, the length of the Kra Canal would likely be two-thirds that of the Panama canal and thus the expected revenue is smaller.
That said, the canal's direct revenue is not the only thing that should be considered; other revenues from increased tourism (the Panama Canal attracts more than 1 million tourists each year), the potential value of duty free retail at each end of the canal, as well as other complementary maritime industrial development. The Kra Canal would also require a massive power plant and labour resources development, both of which would benefit Thailand's economy for many years to come.
I hope that the canal will not take another 300 years to be constructed, or even the 33 years that it took the government to build Suvarnabhumi airport, during which time the proponents and opponents with different interests bickered.
It seems that Michael Setter and Felix Qui in their Oct 30 letters, "Coup ban -- can?" and "Unchartered seas" did not understand my points, or my intentions. I expressed my concern that after a Thai-style general election, I feared a repetition of the chaos that led up to the military taking over. Are memories so short? The military saved our country from a possibly devastating civil war, with even long-term neighbours threatening each other.
These altruistic letter writers portray democracy as something simple, honest, desirable and beautiful. In this, there is a vision of Thai people casting unbiased and honest votes to elect the government they see most able to govern the country. To follow, everybody will have freedom of speech to say or do anything they like. Human rights will be rigorously upheld. Fairness and justice will prevail. Corruption will disappear.
In truth, a future Thai-style election will represent more of the same, viz. greed, power seeking, rampant vote buying, and empty political promises. Winners will take self-interested control. Losers will inevitably seek redress and retribution. And the perilous imbalance of power risks an early comeback.
I recognise that Gen Prayut seized power, but had he not done so, what -- honestly -- would have happened to our country? Thanks to him, we currently have stability and peace.
Who are we kidding?
As long as Thailand is a country where any civilian prime minister knows that at any time, the military can stop in and overthrow him/her, democracy will continue to be a façade.
The reason democracy in America has lasted so long is that the military knows that their job is to serve the president, not the other way around. And if the generals don't like the president, then they can do what any other American can and vote for the opposing party in the next election.
In Thailand, it would be more honest if the military just appointed a "civilian" government instead of pretending that the people are the ones who choose their leaders.
Clearly Vint Chavala in his Oct 26 letter, "Lions who lead sheep", shares the same contempt for the free and fair democratic choice of the electorate as the National Council for Peace and Order.
He, and they, fail to grasp the reason why their applications for extradition of those legitimately elected "lions" were consigned to the recipient countries' waste bin.
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