Thailand could be the next nation in south-east Asia to relocate its capital after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha hinted such a move could be a “possibility” under his government, The Guardian reported.
Taking inspiration from neighbouring Myanmar and similar plans being formulated in Indonesia, the Thai prime minister suggested that relocating the capital could help Bangkok overcome its mounting urban challenges.
Like Jakarta, Bangkok is beset by overcrowding, pollution, rising sea levels and heavy traffic congestion.
During an address at the Connecting Thailand with the World Conference on 18 September, the retired army general floated two options for a potential move. “The first is to find a city that’s neither too far nor too expensive to move to,” he said, “The second is to move to outer Bangkok to reduce crowding.”
According to the Guardian, it is not the first time the idea of moving Thailand’s administrative capital has been raised, with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra also suggesting the administrative capital be moved to Nakhon Nayok, a province 100km from the capital.
Studies have also been conducted on shifting government offices to Chachoengsao, an agricultural hub to the east of Bangkok.
While the Indonesian example proves such a move is theoretically possible, some Thai officials, like National Economic and Social Development Council secretary-general Thosaporn Sirisamphand, expressed skepticism over the possibility of such a drastic move actually happening in Thailand.
“Capital relocation is a big issue and needs serious cooperation from various agencies,” Sirisamphand told The Bangkok Post.