Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has urged Sri Lanka to join Thailand in its long-term effort to connect Asia and beyond, saying that this will help promote peace and prosperity in the Asian region.
In her statement at the Sri Lankan Parliament in Colombo on 31 May 2013, the Prime Minister said that she was in Sri Lanka with the intention to build an even closer partnership between the two nations and to seek Sri Lanka’s support in building bridges of multi-dimensional cooperation throughout Asia.
She cited Asia as home to almost 60 percent of the world’s population with emerging new centers driving the global economic growth. Today, around three billion people from Asia and Africa live around the Indian Ocean. Enhanced regional connectivity will strengthen links in the Indian Ocean rim. This is a strategy being pursued by Thailand and ASEAN.
She said that Thailand is investing 66 billion US dollars in infrastructure development that will link up with the region. Better connectivity leads to more trade, investment, tourism, and better links between the peoples.
One of the key projects is the Dawei deep-sea port which Thailand works with Myanmar on the Andaman Sea. This will link with the Laem Chabang deep-sea port in the Gulf of Thailand, while along the way, a new economic corridor linking the Pacific to the Indian Ocean could become a reality.
Prime Minister Yingluck said that Sri Lanka’s development of deep-sea ports will allow the country to benefit from trade with Dawei and other ports in Southeast Asia. Ultimately, enhanced connectivity extends to Africa. Thailand has started the Thai-African Initiative in which Thailand will host a high-level dialogue with Africa in November 2013.
As climate change threatens human security, the Prime Minister said that Thailand and Sri Lanka need to work to protect their people by reducing risks from natural disasters. She called for closer collaboration with an action plan of coordinated warning systems and disaster relief operations.
She said that, in these days of rapid changes in the world, with cut throat economic capitalism, political turmoil, and social disruptions, Thailand and Sri Lanka must work together to strengthen Buddhism as a religion and way of life. This makes their Buddhist links unique, and this is the reason why the two peoples are so firmly connected.
In the political dimension, she said, both countries care deeply about democracy. Despite challenges that try to destroy beliefs in democracy, democracy survived since it is the people’s will. Democracies around the world must join to preserve and protect the people. Thailand and Sri Lanka, with their experiences and lessons, can contribute greatly to the advancement of democratic forces.