Under the directive of Ms. Wijaraporn Amatayakul, Director of the Technical Services and Planning Bureau at the Department of Provincial Administration, Ministry of Interior, Ms. Sukhumarn Wiriyothin, Director of the Foreign Affairs Division, was assigned to leads the project team of ‘Enhancing people-to-people connectivity to address Non-Traditional Security in the Mekong Region’ (NTS-Mekong Watch) conducted a follow-up on the project’s progress from March 11-13, 2023, in Chanthaburi Province (Pong Nam Ron District, Soi Dao District).

The agenda included studying best practices to document and visualize ‘Building Strong Cross-Border Communities,’ with a particular focus on the border area of Chanthaburi Province as a model site. This project is supported entirely by the Mekong-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund (MKCF).

During the field visit, district officers summarized the successful establishment of the NTS-Mekong Watch Coordination Center (NTS-MWCC) in both districts. They found no major issues related to non-traditional security (NTS), such as cross-border drug trafficking or human trafficking, due to robust collaboration between security agencies and local administrations, coupled with strict law enforcement and seasonal labor management in accordance with Article 64 under the Foreign Worker Management Act of 2017. Additionally, the team documented the lifestyles of Cambodian agricultural laborers in the area.

The NTS Mekong Watch project team also inspected permanent border checkpoints, including Ban Leam, Ban Pakkad, and the Subtaree Checkpoint for Border Trade, and consulted with Dr. Ratthawit Tangkiatphachara, President of the Thai-Cambodian Border Trade and Tourism Association, who plays a crucial role in promoting the building of strong cross-border communities. This approach emphasizes mutual understanding of laws and regulations, integrity decision-making on the hardship of the people, equal law enforcement, and the creation of border areas characterized by mutual trust and economic prosperity.

Furthermore, the team observed the establishment of collaborative checkpoints for inspecting illegal goods at the Intersection of Ban Laem, involving joint efforts of local authorities and security agencies, including the district chief, district officers, village headmen, military personnel, police, and district health officers.

Additionally, the team integrated border patrol activities with Thai security officers and the Cambodian army near Bueng Chanunglang, especially the Thai Border Patrol Police (BPP) working together with the Cambodian military in the 55-56 territorial zone near the checkpoint for border trade of Ban Bueng Chananglang Checkpoint for Border Trade. This demonstrates the leadership of Thai officials in border management and highlights the positive relationship between Thai and Cambodian authorities, leading to more effective border management and security measures.

Moreover, the project team will leverage insights from this field visit to further promote principles of building strong cross-border communities, aligning with collaborative and comprehensive border management objectives outlined by the Department of Provincial Administration to create secure, sustainable, and prosperous communities.