Thailand to Move its Capital Out of Bangkok

Due to high population density, severe pollution, rising sea levels and heavy traffic congestion in Bangkok, the idea of moving Thailand’s capital to another province has resurfaced.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha noted there were two possible approaches to moving the crowded Thai capital.

“The first is finding a city that’s neither too far nor too expensive to move to. The second is to decentralise the urban area to outer Bangkok to reduce crowding,” he said.

“Past governments were never able to pull this off, fearing it would cause irreparable conflict in society,” Prayut added.

Taking inspiration from neighbouring Myanmar and similar plans being formulated in Indonesia, the Thai prime minister suggested that relocating the capital could help Bangkok overcome its mounting urban challenges.

It is not the first time the idea of moving Thailand’s administrative capital has been raised, with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra also suggesting the administrative capital be moved to Nakhon Nayok, a province 100km from the capital.

Thosaporn Sirisamphand, from Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Council, told, “Capital relocation is a big issue and needs serious cooperation from various agencies,” he said. “I think General Prayut just threw an idea out to the public on how to tackle traffic congestion in Bangkok.”

The debate over whether Thailand’s capital should be moved has been mounting since Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo announced last week that he will relocate his country’s capital from Jakarta to a site east of Borneo island.

Rapid expansion, overcrowd and land subsidence in Jakarta in recent years have prompted economic, environmental and safety concerns which forced Mr Widodo to come up with a plan. “The burden Jakarta is holding right now as the centre of governance, business, finance, trade and services is too heavy,” he said.

>Juthy Saha

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