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Asia Minute: Border Wall in Southeast Asia

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

If you’ve been following the presidential campaign here in the US, you’re very familiar with the concept of building a wall between countries.  Donald Trump wants to build one on the border with Mexico.  But there’s a location on the other side of the world where that idea is moving closer to reality.  HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

The leaders of Thailand and Malaysia are talking about building a wall along their shared border.  The main reasons include fighting terrorism and smuggling.   Southern Thailand has suffered three deadly bombings in the past month—and authorities say they have linked the violence to Muslim separatists….some of whom may have fled to Malaysia.

This is not a new issue—for more than a decade, Thai officials have complained that insurgents have attacked targets in Thailand and then escaped across the border to Malaysia.  As with many parts of the world, the border between these two countries has been re-drawn at different points.

The local geography—and history--can get complicated.  Using today’s borders, the landmass that includes peninsular Malaysia stretches north from Singapore at its southern tip through Malaysia and then Thailand—nearly reaching Bangkok.  Over time various parts of that land mass have been comprised of different kingdoms and sultanates.  For example, a little more than a hundred years ago, the three southern provinces of contemporary Thailand were part of a Malay Muslim sultanate.

The current border between the two countries measures about 400 miles—roughly one-fifth the length of the U-S/Mexican border.  No word yet on who would pay for the wall…although analysts expect Thailand might pick up most of the tab.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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