Sunday, 18 September 2016

9/18/2016 01:57:00 am
Prime ministers from Malaysia and Thailand have started to discuss building a wall along their land border to control rebels that have vexed Bangkok for decades. 

Thai junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak broached the topic last week at an annual consultation, leaving doors open to more talks. 

Members of a bomb squad inspect the site of a motocycle blast in front of a school by suspected separatist militants in the Takbai district of Thailand’s restive southern province of Narathiwat on September 6, 2016.
Border walls and other fortifications are nothing new. Eastern European countries are working on theirs to stem migration from Syria. The United States and Mexico have fortified much of the 3,141 km (1,951 miles) between them to discourage illegal northbound immigration. A wall can feasibly be done. But it’s unclear how many people would bang their heads against a wall along the 640 km-long Thai-Malaysia border.

A well-guarded wall would make it easier to quell the violent Muslim-backed insurgency in southern Thailand. Separatists in four southern provinces had killed 6,500 people and injured 12,000 over the decade to 2015, according to figures in the Bangkok Post. The border matters because militants in one elusive group called Runda Kumpulan Kecil flee to Malaysia after bombings, arson and murders in Thailand, according to the Terrorism Monitor. Since 2004, Thai authorities have “continually alleged that militants have crossed over into Malaysia after conducting attacks,” the Monitor’s 2007 report says.

These types would find it harder to sneak over the notoriously porous land border as they do now and instead line up at approved checkpoints with everyone else. Thailand may be asked to pay for most of the wall as it benefits them more, says Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security andInternational Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. “Such a wall would allow authorities on both sides to better manage and control migration flows,” he says. “Thailand would have more interest in having such a wall to manage its southern insurgency and therefore may be expected to foot much of the bill.”

If the two sides can work out the bill, their wall would also stop a certain amount of border trade in oils and rubber, analysts say. Malaysia is Thailand’s biggest trading partner, with exports and imports worth $22 billion per year, according to online resources directory ThaiWebsites.com. But most of that trade passes through legal channels that would not be hindered by a wall.

A wall might stop no one.
The Great Wall of China worked only until the 13th century when Mongols reportedly bribed a sentry to pass it. Thailand and Malaysia enforce sea borders on either side of their land border near the Indochinese peninsula’s isthmus, as well, and no one’s talking about a wall there. “Migrants would still find alternative outlets by sea and through corruption, loopholes and border trade along the wall,” Pongsudhirak says. “The ultimate efficacy of such a wall is doubtful.”

Source: Forbes

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