Prayut to push for sustainable water use at meeting of Mekong countries


PRIME MINISTER General Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to push for sustainable water use among countries along the lower part of the Mekong River when he attends the 2nd Lancang Mekong Cooperation (LMC) summit in Phnom Penh today.


Prayut said yesterday that countries in the lower part of the Mekong – Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam – are “troubled” by dams being built in the upper part of Southeast Asia’s longest river.

However it remains unclear how the issue will be addressed at the summit, which is mostly aimed at advancing the newest sub-regional scheme to become a modern cooperation framework.

At the summit today, Prayut will sit with five other leaders from the Mekong basin to endorse the Five-Year Plan of Action (2018 – 2022) and the Phnom Penh Declaration.

Established in 2015, the LMC comprises China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, and aims to forge political and security cooperation, economic and sustainable development, and social, culture and people-to-people exchange. 

The LMC is regarded as a forum to promote China’s influence and synergise with its Belt and Road Initiative. However, the Thai delegation wants the scheme to become an economic hub and sustainable development model through innovation and modern industries consistent with the Thailand 4.0 initiative and Eastern Economic Corridor development policies. 

Thailand’s push is probably compatible with the LMC economic plan of action, as the six countries promote connectivity, including infrastructure upgrades such as railways. China is now working with countries in the region, including Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, to realise the dream of a “trans-Asean railway”. 

Prayut is expected to pursue talks on the upcoming Thailand-Cambodia railway line, a part of Singapore-Kunming rail link and ultimately the Eastern Economic Corridor.

The premier said that the project has drawn to “near completion” despite suffering from several delays earlier.

Border control and trade and investment with emphasis on agricultural goods should also be discussed with Cambodia, Prayut added.

In the plan, they would promote the increase of application of global satellite navigation systems, including the Chinese Beidou system, in the Mekong countries.

In the area of economic cooperation, the six countries have plans to improve production capacity, promote cross-border trade, and build a long term, stable, sustainable and diversified financing system. The five-year action plan in the economic field also covers water resource management, agriculture, poverty reduction, forestry and environmental protection. 

In the political and security field, the six countries – which have different political regimes, ranging from communist to military rule and semi-democracy – would promote dialogue and exchanges among political parties, according to the draft of the plan seen by The Nation.

Their cooperation in the security field mostly focused on non-traditional security threats such as combating drug and human trafficking, smuggling, terrorism, and trans-boundary and cybercrimes.

The action plan would also enhance cooperation in the field of disaster prevention and mitigation as well as humanitarian assistance.

On the social and culture front, the action plan would explore the establishment of the Lancang-Mekong Tourism Cities Cooperation Alliance to promote tourism and people exchange in the region.