Posted: June 11th, 2013 | Author: Marc | Filed under: Asia-Pacific, Economics, Government, Governmental Policies, National economy, Politics, Thailand
Water is one of the most important resources as it is essential for human activities, food security and national economics. Therefore its use should be wisely planned and managed in order to make sure that negative impacts on humans and the environment can be avoided. Unfortunately Thailand is not able to manage its water resources well which worsens the impact of natural disasters such as flooding’s.
Flooded district Rangsit in Bangkok, 18 November 2011
As stated by the Huffington Post, the flooding of 2011 in Thailand was the worst flooding in more than half a century and caused more than 800 deaths. Floods cannot be entirely prevented but their effects can be reduced by making use of proper management. The current practices of the Thai government are insufficient as remarked by the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute in Thailand. Furthermore global warming has a major impact on natural disasters these days as studies have shown that storms and heavy rains happen more frequently. The current approach of the Thai government is to manage risks of flooding or drought by considering which areas are likely to be vulnerable to it. As stated by the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute Thailand should establish risk management policies that propose monthly analysis of risks in all provinces and develop solutions for individual areas. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 10th, 2013 | Author: Yu | Filed under: Economics, Government, International Business, Thailand | Tags: Railway project
Four high-speed rail routes will be constructed beginning in 2014. After the establishment, Thailand will be the gateway of ASEAN and connect to China, which is one of Thailand’s largest trading partners in Asian regions
Thailand, as one of the leading countries in ASEAN community which is promised in boosting of the economic development and political stability, is poised to place its economic growth aboard a US$ 60 billion high-speed train project which could undoubtedly help drag the Asian countries out of the middle-income trap. According to the Bangkok Post on 17 May 2013, it was reported that the cabinet was expected to accept a bill to allow the government to raise more than 2.2 trillion Baht in off-budget spending on infrastructure investments over the next seven years, 80% of which is destined for new railways linking Bangkok to domestic provinces and Asian countries such as Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and even Myanmar. After accomplishment of this railway project, it was estimated by Thai Ministry of Finance that the project would help lift the country out of the middle-income trap in which a country’s economy stagnates before it becomes wealthy by 2020, and it was predicted the potential tax profits to Thai government would be reached approximately US$32 billion either in trading business or tourism industry. Thus, how Thai government should achieve this project, by itself or attracting investment overseas? What are the challenges and threats for establishment of this project? Moreover, what are benefits and influence for this project in Asian regions? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 10th, 2013 | Author: Yu | Filed under: Economics, Governmental Policies, Thailand | Tags: charity, Thai Airways
The first A380 of Thai Airways was delivered on 27 September 2012, and became the third Asian airline which has A380 in flight operation, following by Singapore Airlines and China Southern Airlines, until this year, there are total 4 A380 have been in services .
Thai airways, as Thai national flag carrier airline which was founded in 1988 and headquartered in Bangkok, recently has announced its delivery of second of six Airbus A380 super jumbos, which is the world’s largest commercial aircraft that can complete Boeing 747. As second largest airways among ASEAN member states, although under the current economic depression in aviation industry which results from high cost of fuel and alternatives of transport modalities for passengers nowadays in travelling causes decline of market demand, Thai airways still launched its A380 purchasing plan and became the third Asian airlines which owned A380 and put it in daily flight operation. Regarding the current economic and market circumstance, how can Thai Airways do to overcome those external threats and challenges and help Thailand to achieve the goal of AEC as one of leading countries in ASEAN? Moreover, as one of world’s largest airlines and government-owned corporation in Thailand, as a return to its community, what has Thai Airways contributed in local community development and charity organization as an essential role in social responsibility? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 30th, 2013 | Author: Nina | Filed under: Asia-Pacific, Geo-Political Disputes, International Relations, Military, Thailand | Tags: ASEAN Community, Cambodia, ICJ, Preah Vihear, UNESCO
Map displaying the Preah Vihear temple and the disputed surrounding area.
Around the world, conflict is found in many areas that were once colonized or controlled by Western powers. In Southeast Asia the Preah Vihear temple dispute is one of them. The temple and surrounding territory has been the center of dispute between Cambodia and Thailand for over more than 100 years now, and still remains unresolved. Unfortunately, political leaders in both states have avoided acknowledging the nuances and complexity of history. Instead they tend to paint the dispute in relatively uncompromising and absolute terms, as mentioned in the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) report. The temple was awarded to Cambodia in 1962 by the ICJ, yet tensions remain. The most recent cause of tension was because the temple complex was designated a United Nations Education Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site in July 2008. To resolve the conflict, several mechanisms can be considered to come to a mutual agreement. Border conflicts in Southeast Asia can be resolved, as was proven in the cases between Indonesia and Malaysia, and Singapore and Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 23rd, 2013 | Author: Malte | Filed under: Governmental Policies, Thailand | Tags: scam, tourism, tourist
Among Westerners, Thai people are widely considered to be very friendly and helpful. For a reason the country is called the ‘Land of smiles’ and most inhabitants do their best to support and help out tourists whenever they can.
The number of markets in Thailand, as the Chatuchak market, have significantly increased with the development of tourism.
However, many visitors also experience another side at some point during their holidays: Scams and fraud. It is obvious that, for a nation in which many have to live of the minimum wage of 300 Baht per day (approximately $10), Western tourists are seen as a high potential source of income. This led to a huge number of markets, tourist shops, street vendors and providers of tourist activities, as everyone wants to get his share of the pie. But not only the amount of products and services offered to foreigners has been increased, scams and unorthodox actions to extract value from tourists did as well. Even though, such behavior is only displayed by a small part of the whole population, it might change the perception of tourists and alter the destination image of the country in the long run. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 1st, 2013 | Author: Nina | Filed under: Asia-Pacific, Governmental Policies, Thailand | Tags: crushing ritual, elephants
Thailand has a long shared history with the elephant, which has remained a potent national symbol even today. Thailand’s forests have been home to Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) for centuries, however, the loss and fragmentation of habitat has resulted in plummeting numbers of wild elephants. The poaching of bulls for their ivory and the young calves captured to be trained for tourist shows, threaten the survival of the elephant in South East Asia. A recent visit of the author to the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai created awareness about how those beautiful creatures are treated. Even though it seems that the elephant has a high status in Thailand, it does not reflect in the way those animals are treated. University of Puget Sound researcher Nick Kontogeorgopoulos notes that; while there were approximately 100,000 elephants in 1900, today there are roughly 4,450 left in Thailand. Of these elephants, around 1,000 are wild and are mostly found in the Khao Yai National Park and Thungyai Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries. All the other elephants are domesticated. For the purpose of creating more awareness about the tradition of domesticating elephants in Thailand, this blog covers the history, purpose of domesticating elephants and the way that is still done today.
Historically, elephants were mainly used for transportation and war. Nevertheless, sometimes they were used as executioners, trained to crush condemned people to death. They were also the ceremonial mounts for royalty and those with high religious esteem. More recently, elephants were used in the timber industry. This took place until 1989 when the Thai government banned the logging industry. Thousands of elephants were then suddenly left without work. The situation forced many mahouts to take their elephants to Bangkok or other major cities to make money. In addition, elephants still remain a favorite for those visiting a zoo or circus. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 30th, 2013 | Author: Malte | Filed under: Government, Thailand | Tags: accidents, death, drunk driving, motorcycles, new year, Songkran, speeding, traffic
Thai people celebrate the new year by cleansing each other from bad experiences and events on the streets.
Based on the lunar calendar, between the 13th and 15th April a year ends and a new one starts. Several Southeast Asian countries, among others Thailand, know and celebrate this time as Songkran. Originally derived from the Indian Sanskrit, the term means the passage of the sun from one sign of the zodiac to the next one. To have a good start into the New Year, most Thai people start their day by cleaning the house, symbolically to get rid of the bad things of the past year. Afterwards people gather on the streets with water pistols, bottles and buckets for a huge water fight and party in order to cleanse each other from sins and bad experiences for a fresh start into the New Year. But this happy and collective event does not end this way for everyone: Hundreds of people die annually in traffic accidents and thousands get injured. The main cause is drunk driving and speeding.
Road safety is generally a noteworthy issue in Thailand, as described in a previous blog, however during holidays the situation even worsens. According to the Road Safety Centre, 321 people in Thailand died during the Songkran week from the 11th to the 17thApril 2013. Another 3,040 got injured in a total of 2,828 accidents. In almost 40% of the cases drunk driving was the reason for the accident and in another 24% speeding. Wet roads and incautiously celebrating people enhance the difficulty on the streets, making drunk and speedy driving even more dangerous than under normal circumstances. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 12th, 2013 | Author: Nina | Filed under: Asia-Pacific, China, Governmental Policies, Thailand | Tags: CITES, Endangered species, illegal trade
After drugs and guns, the illegal trade of wildlife is the third most lucrative international smuggling business. Every year hundreds of millions of plants and animals are caught from the wild are sold for various purposes, such as food, leather, tourist souvenirs, wooden musical instruments and medicine. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has noted that while a great deal of trade is legal, a worryingly large proportion is illegal. This threatens the survival of many endangered species. Wildlife trade as such is not always a problem; nevertheless according to the WWF, it has the potential to be very damaging since it is the second-biggest threat to the survival of species, after habitat destruction. But why should overexploitation concern us and what is currently being done about it? Is banning trade of wildlife the solution to this problem?
Silver Coin for the International Coin Collection, 1997
There are many organizations which are involved to protect threatened wildlife and endangered species. Some examples are the WWF, TRAFFIC, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Conservation International and Wildlife Conservation Society. Overexploitation should concern us for the several reasons. According to the WWF, wildlife is vital for rural households, which might depend on local wild animals for meat, local trees for fuel, and both flora and fauna which provide components of traditional medicine used by most people in the world. The flipside is that it causes a natural imbalance. An example is overfishing; it affects fish species and causes imbalances in the whole maritime system. In addition, illegal trade is worrying because conditions of
transport are likely to be worse and it indicates the inability of countries to protect their natural resources. Overexploitation and illegal trade would not only cause extinction of species, but also serious disturbances to the complex web of life.
To illustrate the impact of illegal trade during the last decades, Economist article of 5 March 2013 provided some examples. For example, the population of tigers decreased by 50 percent since 1990, although it was banned since 1975. In 2012, 668 rhinos are thought to have been killed, despite the existence of a trade ban since 1976. In 2011 almost 24 tons of ivory were seized, which is the largest haul since the trade ban in 1989. More information on ivory trade in particular was given by my fellow blogger Malte. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 4th, 2013 | Author: Lorenz | Filed under: Thailand | Tags: bangkok hilton, prison, white prison
The land of smiles certainly has some aspects that appear quite gruesome. One reason is a place which for many years has been condemned to be the most notorious prison in the world – The Bang Khwang Prison in Thailand. This particular prison holds convicts which have been sentenced to at least 25 years up to death penalty. The Thais call it the “Big Tiger”, since it will metaphorically eat a man alive. The other nickname it is known for internationally is the “Bangkok Hilton”, chosen in a sense of dark humor as it could hardly be more of the opposite of the luxurious hotel branch. Bang Khwang Central prison, located north of Bangkok, has earned its unique reputation by applying harsh conditions for its inmates. These conditions are reflected in the space provided to sleep, lack of nutritious food, discrimination and violence in general. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: March 25th, 2013 | Author: Lorenz | Filed under: Government, Governmental Policies, Thailand | Tags: FCCT, Yingluck Schinawatra
On Monday, 11 March 2013, the annual gala dinner organized by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bangkok. Traditionally Thai prime ministers give a speech to address current issues of the country‘s government faces and to share plans on how they plan to deal with them. The keynote address was as usual followed by a Q&A session where journalists representing different news organizations around the globe had the possibility to ask direct questions.
This year it was Yingluck Shinawatra’s, prime minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, second visit to the FCCT. As she began her speech she noted that she enjoyed being back since she was treated so nicely the previous year, referring to the rough questioning following last year’s speech. During the event in 2012 the focus was on the fact whether she was suitable for the position altogether since she had little political experience and the overshadowing rumors of her brother Thaksin secretly giving her instructions on how to govern the country. Both of these issues were of no concern during this year’s event as she has governed quite successfully over the past 12 months.
Prime Minister Yingluck addressed the achievements of the past year, problems that arose throughout this period and her plans for the near future. The fourth quarter of 2012 in particular was a very successful period of time for the government, as the economy boomed. The economy grew by 18.9% (an average of 6.4% throughout 2012) with a rise of the GDP by 3.6% from the third quarter. At the same time, with the help of government incentives, private investment increased by 21.7%.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra addressing key issuesinfront of the FCCT
The country has also been able achieve stability as far as unemployment is concerned. While the neighboring Myanmar faces the huge problem of an unemployment rate of almost 40% Thailand, in contrast, has a current unemployment rate of 0.5%. As for the AEC it is a current issue that Thailand basically has no additional workforce to spare which will probably result in migration of foreign workers into the Thai labor market, if the government cannot come up with actions that change the current numbers. Like some other ASEAN countries’ the baht is doing well with a stable Inflation of 3.2%. Though some counties are struggling to maintain a stability as Thailand does. For comparison, Indonesia has a rate above 5%, Brunei only 0.4%, Vietnam as high as 7%, according to tradingeconomics.com.
As for the future, Ms. Shinawatra is aware that there has been an underinvestment in the fields of transportation and logistics. This has led to the country suffering a lowering in competitiveness on the international market. Whereas Thailand used to be world leader in rice exports is suffered severely in the recent year with a decline of over 30%. For this reason two major plans have been initiated to tackle this problem and create better infrastructure altogether. The first plan is a Water Resource Management Program. It benefits the irrigation process but just as importantly shall reduce the danger of suffering from floods as well as draughts. The second plan is the country wide Infrastructure Investment Plan, which to a large extent will be concerned with building a highly effective train route network reducing transportation costs as well as fuel consumption making the country a lot more competitive again. Of course the tourism sector will benefit from this as well, as traveling becomes more convenient and cheaper. So far 2% of all transportation is done by train, whereas 86% is done on roads. Altering this imbalance should have a big impact on the country. Realizing these plans will be costly; the Water Resource Management Program will require a budget of 350 billion baht (12 billion USD) while the Infrastructure Investment Plan will cost 2 trillion baht (66 billion USD). These investment cost will, as the prime minister announced, will lead to a public debt to GDP that will peak at 50%. The Fiscal Sustainability Framework lies at 60%. All the numbers mentioned were provided during the keynote and therefore provided by the Thai government.
The IPAD correspondents meeting the Prime Minister
All in all, the prime minister’s speech was aimed at presenting Thailand’s readiness for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015. The focus will be to evenly develop the field of agriculture, industry and tourism. The aim is to strengthen the already existing industries as well as lay the groundwork to develop new ones. It is important, Ms. Yingluck says, to strengthen the agriculture and service sector since they have always been stable sources of revenue as well as employment.
The strategic plan for the future is to achieve growth and competitiveness with the aim to become a high income country. Furthermore, economic equity needs to needs to increase which, with the help of an improved legal framework, can lead to a sustainable economy that can live up to today’s green standards.
After these optimistic plans for the future the foreign correspondents had the possibility to directly ask the PM questions, which in some cases had to be translated first in order for her being able to answer them. Many of them e.g. how the government is planning to deal with the problem of the selling of ivory which still takes place in Thailand, were not answered clearly. The Prime minister did take a clear position of how to address the turmoil in the South of Thailand though. It was said that talks with insurgent leaders are planned but would take time since there are many separate groups. The government does not consider granting any regions autonomy as they clearly are part of Thailand. Overall it can be said that the Prime Minister managed to charmingly evade questions she obviously could not give a clear answer to. One example was the issue resulting from the ‘First-time-car-buyer scheme’. The plan was to set a budget of 30 billion baht to provide 500.000 people with cars and refund taxes for first-time buyers. This program was meant to stimulate the Thai economy only that the program became too popular resulting in the budget being exceeded by more than 10 billion baht and an unanticipated extra 100.000 cars were purchased which will only worsen the already traffic jam ridden city of Bangkok. However, when it comes to Thailand’s readiness for the AEC the government is planning ahead and seems confident to tackle all important issues in time.