KANGAR: About 20,000 residents of Chana district in Songkhla, Thailand, have indicated their support for the RM3.8bil Malaysia–Thailand gas pipeline project.
Songkhla Governor Amnuay Rong-ngern said the residents had given their names in a recent signature campaign.
The signatures were handed over to Amnuay on Sunday by village headman or tambon Yuna Masamarn of the Na Wa village in Chana who was accompanied by 3,000 supporters.
The project was delayed for three years following protests by some villagers and certain non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who expressed concern over the project’s environment impact.
Amnuay said there were around 80,000 residents in the Chana district. The gas pipeline project, which includes a gas separation plant, was to traverse two predominantly Thai Muslim villages in the area.
“An estimated 20,000 residents are affected by the project and the signature campaign shows an overwhelming majority of the villagers in Chana support the project,” he said in an interview.
Amnuay said there were still about 200 people, including two farming families who refused to support the project or relocate.
“Some of the protesters are likely to be outsiders. The people in the list are the majority who had remained silent until now. Those who opposed accounted for only 1% of the residents there,” Amnuay said.
Amnuay said the village tambon had seen the project’s potential and job opportunities.
He said the Governor’s Office was taking a neutral stand on the matter and would listen to both sides.
The project will draw gas reserves from the Malaysia–Thailand Joint Development Area in the Gulf of Thailand. The gas will be piped through 352km of pipelines along the Thai coast to the Malaysian side at Changloon, Kedah.
Petronas president Tan Sri Mohd Hassan Merican was recently reported as saying that the project was supposed to have been ready last year but was rescheduled to 2007.
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