Visitors to the North of Thailand will have noticed that a number of mountains are being completely removed. To find out what is behind this improvement, Private Tye interviewed Acharn Teemunny the President of the Flat Thailand Society.
Private Tye: What are the objectives of the Flat Thailand Society?
Teemunny: It is simply to make Thailand completely flat from Sungai Kolok to Mae Hong Son.
Private Tye: Does that mean that the whole of Thailand will be a rich and fertile area like the central plains?
Teemunny: Not exactly. Think more in terms of Libya or Arizona. Arizona is a great place and Phoenix is one of the world's fastest growing cities. A completely flat Thailand will make it easy to build more roads, chemical plants, factories and housing developments.
Private Tye: When was the Flat Thailand Society established?
Teemunny: Way back in the 1980s. At that time the mountains were covered by hideous teak trees and other hardwoods. They were full of vermin and dangerous animals including leopards and tigers. Fortunately, we found that the Singaporeans would buy hardwoods. So, our valiant loggers got to work and in a few short years had cleared almost all the teak from the Thai forests. This did not make Thailand flat, but it was a good start.
Private Tye: What happened next?
Teemunny: Trees grew back. Not hardwoods, of course (village entrepreneurs made make sure that any hardwood beyond four inches diameter would be cut out and sold), but useless wood - no good for timber or charcoal. We were very disappointed, but the agro-industrial companies and hill tribes came to the rescue. Slash and burn cultivation was re-invented and the trees cut down and replaced with maize for animal feed.
Private Tye: What about the cement?
Teemunny: Fortunately, Thailand's mountains are mostly made of limestone which is the principle component of cement. In 2012 Thailand was the the fourth largest exporter of cement in the world, exporting 11.47 million tons. With all the trees and wildlife removed nobody has any objection to removing the mountains themselves.
Private Tye: You said something about Arizona and Libya?
Teemunny: Yes, with the forests and mountains gone you can not expect much rainfall in the future. But what does this matter? We made 567 million US dollars in Cement exports in 2011. I reckon we can increase that amount tenfold which will more than compensate for the complete loss of rice exports.
Private Tye: You seem to have thought of everything, it is good to know that future generations will be well taken care of.