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Thai Prime Minister Suggests Moving Capital to Help Overcrowded Bangkok

In what seems to be a growing trend among overcrowded Southeast Asian capitals, Thailand's Prime Minister has floated the idea of relocating its capital from Bangkok.

According to the Guardian, at a conference held in the Thai capital last month, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha made the suggestion in light of Bangkok's worrying pollution and congestion. The megacity also faces acute threats of flooding due to rising sea levels.

At the conference, the prime minister shared two possible options for moving the capital: "The first is to find a city that's neither too far nor too expensive to move to. The second is to move to outer Bangkok to reduce crowding."

The newspaper reports that he argued such a move would alleviate congestion in the city center, though plenty of research needs to be carried out before any relocation is seriously considered.

This follows recent news that Indonesia will move its capital from Jakarta, which faces some of the worst traffic and urban flooding in the world, to the densely forested island of Borneo.

General Prayut's idea has received mixed reactions, the Guardian adds.

Thosaporn Sirisamphand of the National Economic and Social Development Council said the comment on relocating the capital seemed to be off-the-cuff.

"Capital relocation is a big issue and needs serious cooperation from various agencies," he said. "I think General Prayut just threw an idea out to the public on how to tackle traffic congestion in Bangkok."

While Thailand's capital won't be moving anytime soon, it is clear that some regional governments are looking to radical solutions to tackle chronic urban problems like overcrowding, traffic congestion, pollution and flooding.