Push for Kra Canal Receives New Life from Retired Thai Generals

Friday August 11, 2017

In a new push to see the start of construction on the long-envisioned Kra Canal, a group of retired generals has come together to form the Thai Canal Association for Study and Development, Nikkei Asian Review reports.

As previously reported, the project would allow ships to access the Gulf of Thailand from the Indian Ocean, bypassing the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.

Along with some of the country's most influential figures, including politicians, academics, and businessmen with Chinese ties, the new group is calling on Thailand's Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, to change his position and pursue the canal's development through a feasibility study.

"We hope the people will send a message to the government to pick up this project," General  Pongthep Tesprateep - a former army chief of staff and chair of the Thai Canal Association - told the Nikkei Asian Review.

"It is a project that is very good for our country and the whole world, but until now has been left under the table gathering dust."

The group of retired generals is reported to have so far hired a boat to study the canal's planned entrance, undertaken aerial reconnaissance of the terrain, and launched a "hearts-and-minds" campaign to win the backing of residents that are likely to be affected by the canal.

As Ship & Bunker has previously reported, in recent years Singapore has lost its title as the world's busiest container port to China's Shanghai port, but it is still by far the world's biggest bunker market by volume and the implications for Singapore of any such canal could be significant.

However, industry experts have said that, if the canal were to be constructed, it would take time for Singapore to feel any economic impact.