KUALA LUMPUR: With a price tag of RM1 million (US$245,000) per kilometre, the proposed 11km border wall between Malaysia and Thailand is costly and should be reviewed, said Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail on Monday (Apr 1).
"In the United States, President Trump still has not received the approval to build the wall between US and Mexico. It’s the same thing here, because the price is too high," she said in parliament.
Arau Member of Parliament (MP) Shahidan Kassim had asked the government to state the current status of the project, while Merbok MP Nor Azrina Surip posed an additional question on whether Malaysia would follow in the US' footsteps to build a border wall as the structure is considered wasteful.
Dr Wan Azizah said the plan would be reviewed after Thailand forms its government following its general election, according to reports. The National Security Council and the Prime Minister's Department would also study its technical specifications and financial implications, she added.
The agreement to erect the border wall was reached between the previous Barisan Nasional administration and the Thai government to deter cross-border crime and smuggling.
The idea was raised back in September 2016 in Bangkok by then Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his counterpart, Mr Prayut Chan-o-cha at an annual consultation.
Subsequently, the project was given the green light by a Thai-Malaysian General border Committee meeting in Bangkok in March 2018, which was chaired by Thai Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and then Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
The border wall was expected to curb the smuggling of drugs, weapons and petrol, as well as tackle human trafficking, said earlier reports.
Dr Wan Azizah said Malaysia and Thailand would have to sit down and iron out issues such as the exact placement of the border wall.
"Will it be built on the dot, or before the border?" she said, while adding that other existing border security measures must be enhanced.
Malaysia and Thailand share a 640km common border.