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Phumtham Wechayachai Champions Thailand-Malaysia Twin-City Initiative to Revitalize Deep South

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The government is embarking on a groundbreaking collaboration with Malaysia to breathe new life into the deep South by championing the twin-city concept, a move aimed at invigorating the economy. Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister, Phumtham Wechayachai, recently presided over a crucial meeting to evaluate progress on this ambitious venture which encompasses the development of the five southernmost provinces, in tandem with Malaysia.

Mr. Phumtham emphasized that this initiative aspires to transform conflict-ridden zones within these provinces into bustling trade arenas, ultimately paving the way for peace. Thailand and Malaysia have mapped out five key objectives to bring this vision to fruition.

The first goal revolves around establishing a robust trade partnership between the two nations, with a strong emphasis on boosting the sales of agricultural produce and streamlining bilateral trade measures. This strategy aims to significantly enhance the yield of cash crops and livestock farm products in the southern region.

The second goal focuses on opening up more halal market channels in Malaysia for Thai farmers and entrepreneurs. To bolster this effort, a vibrant Thai food carnival is slated to be held on a monthly basis, showcasing a tantalizing array of Thai delicacies.

Thirdly, the plan envisages the establishment of an all-encompassing Thailand-Malaysia Trade Centre, a hub designed to simplify and stimulate trade activities between the two countries.

Resuming trade activities near the Malaysia border, specifically in the province of Satun, forms the fourth goal. These activities had come to a standstill due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and their revival is eagerly anticipated.

Lastly, the fifth goal underscores the formation of an allied task force between Malaysia’s Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry and Thailand’s Commerce Ministry to spearhead this initiative and ensure its successful implementation.

Under this exciting twin-city venture, the five southern Thai provinces – Satun, Songkhla, Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat – will be twinned with five Malaysian states: Perlis, Kedah, Perak, Terengganu, and Kelantan, respectively, as outlined by Mr. Phumtham.

In addition to these collaborative efforts, Mr. Phumtham provided an update on the construction of a second border bridge crossing the Sungai Kolok River, set to connect Narathiwat and Kelantan. The project is backed by a budget of 160 million baht and promises to be a marvel of design, resembling a kolae, which is a traditional Malay fishing boat.

Currently, the project is undergoing an environmental impact assessment (EIA), expected to be wrapped up by September. With a nod of approval anticipated by next month, this bridge stands as a symbol of hope and connectivity between the two nations.

This exciting initiative not only aims to revitalize the southern Thai economy but also fosters a spirit of camaraderie and peaceful coexistence through mutual trade and shared cultural celebrations. If all goes according to plan, the deep South will see an era of unprecedented growth and prosperity, with a tapestry of Thai-Malaysian trade relations interwoven into its very fabric.


  1. Lucy Chang June 6, 2024

    This twin-city initiative sounds too optimistic. How can trade alone solve decades of conflict in the deep South?

    • John D June 6, 2024

      Trade can be a powerful tool for peace. Economic benefits may ease tensions and provide alternatives to conflict.

      • Lucy Chang June 7, 2024

        I still think deep-rooted cultural and political issues need more than just economic initiatives to be resolved.

      • academic_insight June 7, 2024

        You’re both right. Economic growth is a necessary but not sufficient condition for peace. It needs to be coupled with political reforms and community engagement.

    • Tom_R June 7, 2024

      Economic initiatives often create jobs and improve living conditions, which can lead to reduced conflict over time.

  2. Ali June 6, 2024

    The Thai food carnival idea is fantastic! It’s a great way to bring cultures together and promote local businesses.

    • Sophia L. June 6, 2024

      Agreed! Food is a universal language. This could be a huge hit if executed well.

    • FarmerJoe June 7, 2024

      I just hope this focus on food doesn’t overshadow other critical aspects like trade and infrastructure.

    • HalalHunter June 7, 2024

      Looking forward to those halal market channels! Thai products will find a great audience in Malaysia.

  3. Silas June 6, 2024

    The new bridge sounds like a great idea but is it really worth 160 million baht? Seems like a financial gamble.

    • Engineer_Pro June 7, 2024

      Infrastructure is always costly but necessary for long-term growth. Connecting regions can enhance trade and relationships.

    • Bridge_Brains June 7, 2024

      This isn’t just about money. It’s an investment in connectivity and future prosperity. The bridge could transform regional dynamics.

    • Silas June 7, 2024

      I get that, but with so many other pressing issues, is this the best use of funds right now?

    • LocalVoice June 7, 2024

      If it brings in more business and tourism, it will pay for itself in the long run.

  4. Mei June 7, 2024

    Why only the five southernmost provinces? The whole of Thailand could benefit from such initiatives.

    • TravelerTom June 7, 2024

      They’re focusing on the deep South because that’s where the conflict is most severe. It’s a targeted approach.

    • Mei June 7, 2024

      Understood, but spreading economic initiatives wider could also create a more balanced development and lessen the divide.

    • Dept_ComTrade June 7, 2024

      This is a pilot project. Success here might inspire similar initiatives in other parts of the country.

  5. PoliSci_Prof June 7, 2024

    Collaboration with Malaysia is smart, but we must be wary of over-reliance on any single neighboring country.

  6. Lak June 7, 2024

    I’m skeptical of this twin-city initiative. History shows that such projects often fail to deliver.

  7. Optimist123 June 7, 2024

    This could be the beginning of a positive transformation for the South. Give it a chance!

    • Realist_Ray June 7, 2024

      Optimism is good, but blind faith isn’t. We need accountability measures to ensure these goals are met.

    • Optimist123 June 7, 2024

      Fair point. Transparency and regular updates are crucial for the initiative’s credibility.

  8. PhD_Economist June 7, 2024

    Boosting agriculture and creating market channels are sound ideas. However, diversifying the economy should also be a priority.

    • EmilyJane June 7, 2024

      Agriculture is a safe bet for immediate impact, but I agree. Long-term sustainability requires diversification.

    • FarmerJohn June 7, 2024

      Don’t underestimate agriculture. It can be very lucrative if managed well.

  9. GlobalCitizen June 7, 2024

    Why does every proposal have to be driven by economic gain? Can’t we focus on cultural and humanitarian aspects?

  10. Sandy June 7, 2024

    Resuming trade activities near the Malaysia border is overdue. Covid really messed things up.

    • Travel_Enthusiast June 7, 2024

      Exactly, and cross-border trade is essential for regional harmony and economic stability.

  11. Rick G. June 7, 2024

    An allied task force sounds bureaucratic. I hope it doesn’t slow down the progress.

    • Policy_Wonk June 7, 2024

      Task forces can be slow, but they bring necessary expertise and coordination.

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