Thailand not ready to operate 24-hr border

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 30 Mar 2019

In limbo: While Malaysia is ready for the extension of the border

KUALA LUMPUR: The plan to open the Bukit Kayu Hitam-Sadao Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) checkpoint round-the-clock from Monday has been put off.

It is learnt that the deferment could take up to several months, with the Thai side not ready yet to proceed.

A Thai Embassy official, who revealed this to The Star, said his authorities needed more time to work on “internal processes”.

“Both sides will meet and decide on a new date soon,” the official said.

A Wisma Putra official also confirmed that the extension of the border’s operating hours had been postponed.

“This is a bilateral matter. We will wait until they are ready,” the official said.

Both governments had been working on extending the border’s daily 18-hour operations for several years without success.

The extra hours are aimed at reducing congestion at the border, where there are bottlenecks during rush hours.

The border presently opens at 6am Malaysian time (5am Thai time) and closes at midnight (11pm Thai time).

Border connectivity was key on the agenda when Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad met his Thai counterpart Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha for talks in Bangkok last October.

Following the prime ministerial initiative, both foreign ministers met in the Thai capital in January to reach an agreement to open the border for 24 hours on a three-month trial basis.

Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah had previously said the agreement would help ease imports and exports along the border.

In response, Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said both sides were committed to promoting seamless connectivity along the shared border.

Bukit Kayu Hitam is Kedah’s main border town on the Malaysia-Thailand border, while Sadao is the town located across at the Thai side.

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