In our previous post we noted there were two stories in the media that gave us cause to pause. Here’s the other one, which caused us to look at a calendar to ensure it was 1 April.
Some background first. Back in December 2014, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited as the most prominent foreign leader to visit the country since the military coup. The junta used the visit as propaganda, declaring the country “normalized.” Minister Li’s visit result in two MOUs, one a rail project, requiring an investment of $10-12 billion investment. Deputy Prime Minister, General Thanasak Patimapragorn soon declared that construction would begin by the end of 2015. In line with this, a “ground-breaking” ceremony was held in December 2015. Nothing happened. The negotiations were not complete and the Chinese and Thai negotiators could not agree on the terms of loans and more.
If a “ground-breaking” ceremony before an agreement was reached was weird, the latest “news” on the Thai-Chinese high-speed train scheme is reported by the Bangkok Post as having “entered a strange phase where officials of the two countries agreed on Thursday to kick-start the construction of a short section, although they have not settled on the overall project.”
Bizarrely, it has been agreed, so the report goes, to build a “3.5km section [of track and a station] in tambon Klang Dong of Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Chong district to be constructed first, while leaving the entire project to further negotiations.”
Seriously? Really? Apparently so, as Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said: “We will build the short section in line with the aspiration of the leaders of the two countries…”. said the minister.”