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Historic Border Demarcation: Wassayos Ngamkham and Nathapol Khantahiran Lead Thai-Malaysian Efforts

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A military officer from the Royal Thai Survey Department recently captivated a group of 36 foreign diplomats and media members in Narathiwat with a compelling presentation on the collaborative efforts of Thailand and Malaysia in demarcating their shared border under the historic Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. The air was charged with an electric sense of diplomacy and cooperation, as WASSAYOS NGAMKHAM eloquently delivered his speech.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand and Malaysia are making significant strides toward finalizing the demarcation of their 647-kilometer border, which stretches from Thailand’s Satun province and Malaysia’s Perlis state in the west, all the way to Thailand’s Narathiwat province and Kelantan state in Malaysia. Picture the landscape: rolling hills, lush forests, and vibrant communities living in harmony yet yearning for clearly defined boundaries.

Leading the charge, Nathapol Khantahiran, the deputy permanent secretary for foreign affairs, led an enthusiastic group of journalists to the Tak Bai immigration checkpoint in Narathiwat. At this buzzing hub of activity, a forum was organized to discuss the progress of border demarcation, attended by several key government organizations, including the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs and the Royal Thai Survey Department.

Delving into a bit of history, the Anglo-Siamese Treaty, also known as the Bangkok Treaty, was signed on March 10, 1909, between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Siam in the heart of Bangkok. This pivotal agreement laid the groundwork for the current Malaysia-Thailand border, keeping areas like modern Pattani, Narathiwat, southernmost Songkhla, Satun, and Yala under Thai sovereignty. However, the tranquility promised by the treaty was shattered decades later by a southern insurgency.

Mr. Nathapol rivetingly narrated the historical journey of border demarcation. He took the audience back to the reign of King Chulalongkorn the Great, where the first border demarcation pole was erected, marking a cornerstone of cooperation between the two nations. Between 1910 and 1911, a staggering total of 109 poles were established, symbolizing the first phase of this monumental task.

The second phase, Mr. Nathapol continued, kicked off in 1973 and concluded in 1985, with an astonishing 12,169 border demarcation poles planted firmly in the ground. Since then, no new poles have been erected; instead, the focus shifted to repairing damaged poles and replacing missing ones, a task carried out collaboratively in 1993.

The excitement in the room was palpable as Mr. Nathapol recounted the advancements between 2000 and 2009. With the Kolok River serving as a natural guide, both nations earmarked 1,550 strategic spots for new demarcation poles. However, Mother Nature had her own plans. Devastating floods altered the landscape significantly, reshaping the riverbanks and stalling the demarcation work.

But there’s renewed hope on the horizon! Mr. Nathapol revealed a proposal for the Thai government to form a fresh negotiating team, tasked with rekindling cooperation with Malaysia and completing the demarcation. The first step? Seeking cabinet approval, a procedure brimming with optimism for border security, transboundary crime suppression, and the overall well-being of Thai and Malaysian citizens alike.

While both countries may have experienced governmental changes in recent years, passion and determination to finalize the demarcation remain unyielding. It’s a story of heritage, diplomacy, and resilience that beckons us to look forward to a well-defined, secure, and prosperous future for Thailand and Malaysia.


  1. Kevin S. June 3, 2024

    This sounds like typical diplomatic fluff. Do we really need border poles in this day and age?

    • MaryJ June 3, 2024

      Yes, we do. Borders matter for national security, even in the age of globalization.

      • TruthSeeker99 June 3, 2024

        MaryJ, you might have a point about security, but shouldn’t we be striving for a world without borders?

        • Kevin S. June 3, 2024

          Agreed, TruthSeeker99. Borders are outdated. We should focus on international cooperation.

        • GlobalCitizen June 3, 2024

          Peaceful coexistence is the ultimate goal, but clear borders prevent a lot of conflicts too.

    • Jim June 3, 2024

      But what about the livelihood of people living near these borders? Stability is essential.

  2. Tom Harris June 3, 2024

    Why is there so much focus on these poles? Isn’t this just a waste of resources?

    • Linda June 3, 2024

      Tom, you need to understand the historical and legal importance these poles hold. It’s more than just markers.

    • Patel123 June 3, 2024

      Exactly, Linda. Those poles signify agreements and respect between nations.

    • Tom Harris June 3, 2024

      I get that, but couldn’t the money be better spent on social issues?

  3. Hannah Lee June 3, 2024

    This effort is commendable! Cooperation on this scale is rare these days.

    • Joey D June 3, 2024

      Rare, but also, securing borders reinforces divisions.

    • Hannah Lee June 3, 2024

      Division can be good if it means defining and respecting each nation’s sovereignty.

  4. jason_1990 June 3, 2024

    Does anyone think this will actually help reduce crime?

  5. Simone June 3, 2024

    Call me skeptical, but these diplomatic gestures often seem more symbolic than effective.

  6. AcademicRambler June 3, 2024

    The historical context makes this fascinating. There’s a lot we can learn from the past.

  7. Lauren Kim June 3, 2024

    I appreciate the historical significance, but it’s the present people’s welfare that counts.

    • HistoricalBuff June 3, 2024

      Lauren, history shapes the present and future. Don’t ignore its value.

    • Amy P. June 3, 2024

      Both of you are right. It’s a balance between respecting history and ensuring current welfare.

  8. Rick June 3, 2024

    I always thought these borders were properly demarcated long ago. Shows how much I know!

  9. Timothy June 3, 2024

    It’s easy to forget how fluid borders can be, especially in politically sensitive regions.

  10. Alice W. June 4, 2024

    This seems like a positive step, but how does it impact local communities?

    • CultureVulture June 4, 2024

      Local communities have a huge stake. Clear borders can lead to better resource allocation and governance.

  11. Rebecca L. June 4, 2024

    Will this border demarcation actually resolve the issues from the southern insurgency?

  12. EnviroWarrior June 4, 2024

    I hope they take environmental factors into consideration. Nature doesn’t care about man-made borders.

  13. Sonny June 4, 2024

    Floods seem to be a recurring issue. How are they planning to address that?

    • ecoActivist June 4, 2024

      Great point, Sonny. Climate change could make this effort more difficult.

    • Sonny June 4, 2024

      Exactly, ecoActivist. They need a sustainable solution.

  14. Skeptical Sally June 4, 2024

    So the government is spending time and money on this while other social issues are left unaddressed?

  15. justin June 4, 2024

    It’s always gonna be complicated. There’s no easy fix for border issues.

  16. Nora T. June 4, 2024

    Does anyone else find the historical aspect of this border fascinating? Such a rich history!

  17. Frankie June 4, 2024

    Borders are necessary evils. They preserve national identity but can also fuel division.

    • WorldTraveler88 June 4, 2024

      Nicely put, Frankie. It’s about finding a balance.

    • Frankie June 4, 2024

      Thank you, WorldTraveler88. Balance is indeed key.

  18. Kimberly June 4, 2024

    Does anyone know how long this process is expected to take?

    • Sam R. June 4, 2024

      Given their historical pace, it could be years. Bureaucracy is slow.

  19. Alex M. June 4, 2024

    I wonder what prompted the renewed focus on this. Political motivations perhaps?

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