Thai canal plan won't die, says activist

Thai canal plan won't die, says activist

The Thai canal project is unlikely to be put to rest, despite the House of Representatives last week rejecting a study into the proposal, says an activist working on environmental issues.

Somboon Khamhaeng, member of the NGO Coordinating Committee on Development, said the House's rejection of the report caught him by surprise, but he believed something went wrong in the lobbying process.

The project was likely to resurface in future administrations as the project involved massive investments. He said about 10 billion baht was earmarked alone for the project's feasibility study, which made it highly attractive.

Previously known as the Kra Canal project, the Thai canal project was brought up under almost every government, but has never come to fruition due to high investment costs, the likely impacts on environment and people's livelihoods.

The latest push for the study into the Thai canal project took place in January 2020 when the House accepted a motion to set up an a committee to study the plan along with the proposed Southern Economic Corridor.

The report was submitted to the House for a debate and put up for a vote last Friday. A total of 144 MPs voted against it, while 121 voted in favour with 53 abstentions.

Move Forward Party list-MP Surachet Praweewongwut said the MFP rejected the report not because it was opposed to the project, but it wanted a more thorough and objective study. Mr Surachet said the report was very suggestive with partial views.

The House's rejection also caused an uproar by the main opposition Pheu Thai Party which insisted the meeting was not authorised to vote on the report.

Deputy House speaker Supachai Phosu, who presided over the session, asked MPs to vote after members expressed mixed views.

However, Dr Cholnan Srikaew, leader of Pheu Thai and the opposition, argued the MPs were allowed a vote on the committee's observations only, not the report.

"It isn't for the House to decide if the Thai canal project will go ahead. It isn't for the House to decide on the 5G rollout. Legislators shouldn't interfere with the executive branch, and that's why they are called 'observations',"

"I'd like the chairman to consider this -- when a study, for instance the casino-entertainment complex study, is ready and the report is rejected, the entire study goes to waste," he said.

Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT

Warrant out for ex-Pheu Thai leader Charupong's arrest

The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions has issued a warrant for the arrest of fugitive Charupong Ruangsuwan, a former Pheu Thai Party leader, for allegedly demanding a water supply company pay for air tickets costing nearly 60,000 baht while he was interior minister in 2012.

14:16

Wikipedia back in Pakistan after 'blasphemy' ban

ISLAMABAD: Wikipedia was back online in Pakistan on Tuesday, after the country's prime minister ordered authorities to lift a block imposed on the online encyclopedia over "blasphemous content."

13:45

Toddler saved from deep well, 18-hour overnight rescue

A 19-month-old girl who fell down a narrow well was finally lifted to safety after an 18-hour overnight rescue at a cassava plantation in Phop Phra district of Tak province.

13:02