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"Bridge of Friendship" to enhance Malaysia-Thailand ties

JELI, Dec 8 (Bernama) -- The 120-metre bridge across the Golok River, linking Bukit Bunga here and Ban Buketa in Narathiwat, Thailand, is to be renamed the "Bridge of Friendship" to symbolise the deep diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Thailand.

Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will officiate at the renaming tomorrow in conjunction with their visit to southern Thailand as part of the annual bilateral consultation.

The RM9.2 million bridge was opened on Dec 21, 2007 and has been known as the "Bridge of Goodwill."

On the Malaysian side of the bridge is the RM37.2 million 4-storey Bukit Bunga Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex which houses the offices of the Immigration Department, Customs Department, Police, Health Department, Forestry Department and Veterinary Services Department.

The construction of the bridge came under the Joint Development Strategy of the border areas launched in 2004 to serve as a catalyst for the transformation of the poor community through benefits derived from the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) development programmes.

ECER is expected to set off transformation in Kelantan and the benefits of the development are expected to spread out to the Malay Muslim community in Narathiwat as well.

Besides the physical development, the Malaysian Malay community can also extend their expertise in human capital development as there is no barrier in terms of language, culture and religion between the communities.

Intensive courses on learning methodology, opportunities to study at Malaysian institutions of higher education institutions or courses on skills could be explored here.

No obstacles stand in the way of Malaysian entrepreneurs seeking to expand their business network and partnerships as their technology is most effective in certain fields, such as agriculture.

The Bridge of Friendship brings hope for the Malay Muslim community in southern Thailand to achieve progress and development after suffering setbacks due to terrorism.

In NARATHIWAT, the Muslim community of southern Thailand is looking forward to the visit of Najib and Abhisit tomorrow, hoping that it will bring peace to the strife-torn region.

Che Hir village headman, Jali, 47, said the people were looking forward to peace and political stability.

"Every day, we hear of murders and shootings but we do not know who is responsible," he told Bernama.

At 6pm yesterday, a bomb went off at the market in Narathiwat, killing a man and his wife while a student of a religious school was shot dead by a band of armed men in a village, 70km from Narathiwat.

A villager of Kampung Ban Pa near Narathiwat, Abdul Rahman Daud, 37, said the people lived in fear and anxiety and hoped that Najib's visit would help to ease the fear.

A trader in Sungai Golok town, Mek Esah Wok, 58, said traders were unable to conduct their business safely owing to the attacks by the irresponsible people.

"We can be killed by a bomb at any time, or shot at by unidentified people, but to earn a living, we must carry on doing what we have to do," she said.

The mother of seven children, two of them girls, is hoping that Najib's visit would help to ease the crisis which has instilled fear in the people.

MySinchew 2009.12.08



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