CHIANG RAI – Thailand’s Military’s Governments aim to clear the Mekong River’s rocky outcrops to ensure the smooth passage of large cargo boats has set off alarm bells for environmental activists and locals who fear the ecology in the area will be put at risk.
The Rak Chiang Khong environmental group rode in three long-tailed boats with placards written in Thai, Chinese and English protesting the reefs blasting, in the Mekong river in parallel to the Chinese ship which was on a return voyage from Odomxei in Laos to southern China.
The Royal Thai Navy’s Mekong river patrol boat was observing the protest from nearby. The protest lasted about 20 minutes.
Mr Niwat Roikaew, a leader of the group, said that the protest was intended to send a message to the Chinese government of the local people’s opposition to the reefs explosion. He warned that the group would intensify its protest if the reefs blasting continues.
Meanwhile, former senator Kraisak Choonnavan called on the government to reconsider its decision to participate in the development of the international navigation in the Mekong river and to allow Chinese ship to explore the river and to blast underwater reefs in the river.
He said that, about a decade ago, China sought permission of the government of prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to survey the river and to explode reefs, but it was rejected on the ground that the blasting will ruin the environment and the ecological system of the river.
Kraisak pointed out that while Thaksin government which had many businessmen in the cabinet rejected the Chinese plan, the incumbent administration which is full of five-star generals who claim to have high moral ground allowed the Chinese to explode the reefs which are known to be the breeding ground of fish.