Accept the environmental devastation, the Thai military authorities overcome the current rules to attract investment from China to the economy-ạch. But scholars and local people do not support this way.
Lawyer Somnuk Krodsua still remember clearly the time piece of Garden House he always gets the black dust fills recoveries last 2 decades. His house in Krabi Province, southern Thailand, located in the coal and thermal power to run a few kilometers. “Pollution which is very horrible. We don’t see anything beyond 20 m onwards because always dense smoke layer “, the lawyer told. This plant was closed 20 years ago but in 2014, he heard again the designated government Somnuk built a new coal power plants larger than the old plant. This time he will stop.
Coal power plants with capacity of 870 megawatt in Krabi is one of the first major development project related investments from China that the Thai military authorities are pursuing to overcome years of sluggish economic growth. “The Thai economy has not grown as (military). We’re the slowest growing economy in Southeast Asia, “she Pananond Pavida, Associate Professor of international business at Thammasat University, said.
The Thai economy only increased 0.8% in 2014, 2.8% in 2015 and 3.2% in 2016. The World Bank predicts the growth rate will remain so in the years to come, while neighboring countries like Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar reached over 6.5% growth in 3 years.
But scholars and activists expressed concerns about the project are approved to boost the economy, especially the cited Section 44 of controversy in the Constitution to allow the military through any measure would “serve the reform process in any field” and ignore some law protecting the rights of the community and the environment.
But for the military Government in Thailand, this is a sensitive period of the country after the King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The Thai military took power following a coup in May 2014 year after months of political unrest and commit to implement reform programs to overcome political divisions persist in Thailand since Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in 2006. However, the reform program took place slowly than expected and Thai military authorities are trying to promote economic development in order to affirm their list of main properties, the observers noted.
In that context, the Government of Thailand to look out for opportunities from China’s investment promise through the initiative “ring-road”. The initiative aims to strengthen economic ties and connections, the politics of China with more than 60 countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East through infrastructure projects. This project was launched in 2013 with a commitment to invest more than 100 billion u.s. dollars. Since then, the Thai Government approved the project enhancing investment. Earlier this month, Bangkok to allocate 5.2 billion u.s. dollars to build one of the constituent parts of the initiative “ring-road”. It is a stage of high speed train routes connect Bangkok with Nakhon Ratchasima in the Northeast, to finally connect with the province of Nong Khai bordering Laos. This project has been postponed for 2 years due to a number of legal obstacles that eventually were dismissed due to the cited Section 44 of the Constitution. Under the project, China will choose the project engineer. Thai law regulations, foreign engineers are licensed to work in this country. But in this project, the engineers will be exempt from that condition. Also, the cited Section 44 will help the project not being a shopping Commission “soi” as with the project worth at least five billion baht (150 million u.s. dollars).
Thai Prime Prayuth Chan-o-cha invoked Section 44, not long after a major forum on the initiative “ring-road” was held in Beijing, to promote the development of economic corridors in the East (EEC), one of the key development projects of the Government in order to expand the industrial zone in the eastern provinces of the country including Chonburi Rayong and Chachoengsao, where are concentrated in the sectors of automobiles, petrochemical and electronic filters. The new industrial park will include the value added industries such as aerospace, automation, travel of healing …
China has expressed interest and will meet senior officials of the Ministry of industry Thailand next month to discuss the connection between EEC and special economic zones in the city of Kunming, the newspaper the Bangkok Post reported.
Like many projects being Thai military push, coal power plants in Krabi before Government-proposed but not implemented by the local people opposed. High speed train routes and the EEC also lies on the table for years but have never been approved.
The Thai Government also uses his power to turn the land into rice field soil allows for infrastructure development, while many scholars and critics said that the consequences were not included.
Too in favor of China
The balance between the interests of the Thailand people and the Chinese people’s main concern is among the scholars and people who criticize the Government, especially after Bangkok expressed willing to promote military relations with Beijing with the agreed to buy three submarines worth 393 million us dollars/ship. Many of the comments said that Thailand should have a better position to negotiate with China if the US and non-European countries turned to Bangkok after the coup. Some of the terms in the project also was said to be too beneficial to China. “EEC seems to be designed for the Chinese companies,” said Paul Chambers, a military expert at Naresuan UNIVERSITY, Thailand, reviews.
For China, Thailand is a major factor for them to develop interests of his area in Southeast Asia because Thailand is located in strategic position of the region and the two countries have good relations. “Thailand was chosen as a bridge with ASEAN,” said Sakkarin Niyomsilpa, demographics expert at Mahidol University. This researcher that Thailand has no claim of sovereignty on the East Coast and has a long relationship with China also is the reason China invested heavily in Thailand.
Thailand is not the only country in the region are in favour of China. “Most countries in the region are in favour of one China are up, especially during us President Barack Obama when the shaft rotation strategy to Asia he seems weak,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Director of the Institute for international and security studies. He said that at present, says Donald Trump can create change because incumbent u.s. President not interested in human rights issues or political freedom. “If America under Mr Trump’s back, the area will more balanced although tensions still exist,” said Thitinan said.