Thai-Malaysian Border Cooperation: Prime Ministers to Discuss Trade, Tourism, and Security Measures

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin will meet with his Malaysian counterpart, Anwar Ibrahim, in Songkhla province to discuss ways to enhance border trade and tourism between their countries. The scheduled discussions on Monday are anticipated to address suggestions that have the potential to greatly influence the economic dynamics and security situation of the Thai-Malaysian border region.

One of the items on the agenda is a suggestion by Thai tourism businesses to broaden the exemption for Malaysian travelers from completing the Tor Mor 6 immigration clearance form. The current exemption is limited to the Sadao checkpoint in Songkhla province. The plan aims to expand this exemption to include five other immigration checkpoints in the southern region. The purpose of this step is to simplify the entry procedure for Malaysian visitors and reduce the traffic congestion that is currently occurring at the Sadao checkpoint as a result of the recent implementation of the Tor Mor 6 form.

One other suggestion being evaluated is to prolong the operational duration of nocturnal entertainment establishments in the Thai-Malaysian border regions of Songkhla, permitting them to remain open until 4 a.m. Advocates contend that this action will invigorate the economy of the southern border region in accordance with the revised operating hours recommended for tourism destinations in other areas.

The meeting is planned to occur at a newly established immigration checkpoint in the Sadao area of Songkhla. This checkpoint is strategically positioned along a road that leads to Malaysia’s Bukit Kayu Hitam immigration checkpoint. The new checkpoint represents a dedication to promoting collaboration across borders.

Charun Kaeo-wachisap, the head of the tourism business organization in Phatthalung, emphasizes the advantageous consequences of waiving the Tor Mor 6 form requirement for Malaysian tourists at the Sadao crossing, resulting in a twofold increase in visitor numbers. He proposes the extension of this rule to additional checkpoints in order to ease congestion and improve the overall visitor experience.

Aside from trade and tourist initiatives, the leaders are anticipated to deliberate on the possible establishment of a specialized economic region for cross-border commerce in a vicinity spanning roughly 3-5 kilometers from the border. Atthaphon Phrommun, the mayor of the Padang Besar municipality in Sadao district, has put forward a proposal to stimulate economic activities in the border region.

The discussions are likely to focus on the commencement of a previously postponed project to construct a new Thai-Malaysian friendship bridge in the Sungai Kolok area of Narathiwat. This infrastructure project has the potential to improve connections and promote stronger relationships between the two countries.

Furthermore, the discussions are anticipated to focus on security issues pertaining to the disturbance in the southern region. Both parties are eager to identify and implement efficient strategies to hinder the movement of insurgents across the border separating southern Thailand and northern Malaysia. The objective is to restrict the utilization of both nations as hubs for illicit operations conducted by militants.

The leaders’ gathering represents a dedication to promoting both economic collaboration and joint endeavors in tackling mutual security issues, signifying a crucial juncture in Thai-Malaysian relations.