Geo Polit/Econ: Thailand’s junta sever Yunnan-Singapore High Speed Rail project

Thailand’s junta regime postponed Yunnan-Singapore high speed rail project!

The Thai junta has approved a US$100 billion deal for infrastructure development, however cutting out High Speed Rail (HSR) that the Yingluck Shinawatra government approved. The result is the cancellation of China’s dream of a “Yunnan Singapore High Speed Network”.

AP, the wire service, reports:  “The head of Thailand’s military junta said Friday he is considering a 3 trillion baht ($93 billion) plan to build more rail lines and other infrastructure, adding more than $30 billion to a canceled project of the government it ousted.” Somchai said the infrastructure plans should be implemented over seven years from next year until 2022.”

Thailand’s Transport permanent secretary Somchai Siriwattanachoke said that the meeting of the advisory committee decided to drop the high-speed train projects because they are considered as not of priority importance and need not be implemented for now and if they are proven to be necessary in the future, more funding can be sought for their implementation.

The “Yunnan Singapore High Speed Network” plays into China’s favor on the rivalry between the USA and China in Asia.

The USA China rivalry, is play out in Thailand case, going back to Thailand’s long record of being close to USA, to the point of having an annual military exercise, called Cobra Gold, that is the USA largest annual joint military exercise with a foreign country, outside of NATO.

Recently, during Yingluck government 2012, US pacific fleet general came to Thailand for “atmosphere scientific study”. Right after his visit, the Chinese strategic missile & nuclear general came to visit. During 2012 also discuss possible use of U-Tapao Airport as US military base.  So there is a US-Thai-China love triangle.

In a Yingluck Shinawatra speech while still in power, Yingluck touted for Asia total rail integration.

Called “Trans Asia Rail Network” and this is coinciding with China’s foreign policy, for a Yunnan-Singapore High speed rail project. From strategic point of view, this can turn Thailand into another “Pipelinistan.” The result may, is that the HSR could significantly increase Thailand’s geo/political significance, apart from Thailand, already, being at the heart of mainland Southeast Asia.

Should Thailand have HSR?

If the price is right and the quality is good, then most wants HSR, and in fact, globally, many countries have opted for HSR.  The reasons are numerous, such as cutting total travel time on “Long-Haul” and help spur less expensive than air travel, massive population movement. This mass movement of population has many social and economic “Knock-On” benefits, such as social-benefit from closer family and community ties, to a host of economic benefit such as new cities and real estate development.

Normally technology from Japan or Germany is preferred over from China because of reputation. Yet everyone needs low ticket price that can be gained from the lower cost China system.

Transport permanent secretary Somchai  Siriwattanachoke explained Thursday that the strategic infrastructure development projects proposed by the Transport Ministry cost one trillion baht more than the earlier ones initiated by the Yingluck government even without the high-speed train projects because air transport development projects were included in the revised plan.

The revised plan for the infrastructure development projects covers dual track rail, ten electric train lines, development of highways and roads of the Highways and Rural Highways departments, construction of piers and dredging of waterways.

The head of Thailand’s military junta, Army commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, told a meeting of civil servants that “the 3 trillion baht project” was under discussion. “I have not approved it yet. We have to ask the Budget Bureau how much money we have,” he said.

In March, a court struck down the previous government’s 2 trillion baht ($62 billion) infrastructure plan as unconstitutional and said it would raise public debt to unacceptable levels. The previous government had said the projects would boost Thailand’s economic growth, create jobs and improve investor confidence.

The junta, which seized power from the elected government on May 22, has criticized the former administration for corruption and mismanagement. But it has begun to consider and implement policies that are similar to those of the ousted government.

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