Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Canal Through The Ithmus Of Kra
Or A Kedah-Kelantan Land Bridge?

It is really a great move if Malaysia, not in the distant future, will have a “land bridge” from Kedah to Kelantan to transport oil from West Asia en-route to East Asia and countries along the Pacific Rim.

At both ends of the land bridge is a port in Kedah, where the crude oil will be unloaded and to be refined, before being transported to another port in Kelantan, where the refined oil will be re-loaded for shipments to the respective destinations.

Bernama today reported that Malaysia “is looking into a proposal to build a pipeline that will transport oil across the north of its peninsula, bypassing the piracy-prone Malacca Strait.”

The proposal involves the construction of two oil refineries and a 312-kilometre (194-mile) pipeline from northwestern Kedah to northeastern Kelantan.

Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Mohd. Najib Razak, however said that “the project is still at proposal-stage. It has not been finalised yet. They are still looking at the details.”

According to Bernama, tankers will offload crude oil from the Middle East in Yan, Kedah, for refining. The oil will then be transported through pipelines across to Bachok in Kelantan, for distribution to countries in the Asian region, including China.

The pipeline will bypass the 960-kilometre Malacca Strait, which runs along Malaysia's western coast – one the busiest and most strategic waterways in the world..

An idea similar to the proposed project was developed during Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s premiership in mid 1990s. The project, aimed at prospering the economies of nothern Malaysia, nothern Indonesia (Sumatera side) and southern Thailand, was under the patronage of a growth triangle called IMT-GT or the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle.

According to the IMT-GT plan, the land bridge, or possibly a canal, was supposed to be built across the Ithmus of Kra in southern Thailand. Unfortunately, the plan was still not being implemented. However, it is still not sure if the IMT-GT proposal has been permanently scrapped.

Blogger Ketua Perusuh, who is a former senior fellow with ISIS, had recently published a two-parts article about this. He claimed that Singapore was not happy with the implementation of such a project. For further reading, Please access these links:

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