ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Japanese ask for more from Thai governmentBy David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs 14 October 2011
The worst flooding in Thailand is beginning to get on people’s nerves, not only Bangkok residents but Thailand’s biggest foreign investors.
The reason being is that the floods have invaded a number of industrial parks north of Bangkok. As a result, Thailand’s economic growth forecast has been trimmed to 4 percent.
In Bangkadi Industrial Park, one of Toshiba's largest production centers in Asean, factories making semiconductors, lighting, fluorescent lamps and home appliances shut down on Tuesday for at least five days. One of the world's top three semiconductor makers, Toshiba produces a billion pieces a month at Bangkadi Industrial Park in Pathum Thani, where it employs 1,600 workers.
Eight other industrial estates were warned on Wednesday by Industry Minister Wannarat Channukul of being flooded.
Although Japanese and Thai executives of Japanese firms doing business in Thailand were assured Japanese investment would not be pulled out, they also requested action to prevent future disasters.
"So far nothing has changed regarding Toshiba's investment in Thailand, but this situation must not happen again," said Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, chairwoman of Toshiba Thailand.
"The government has to understand that after the floodwaters recede, it must immediately implement flood prevention measures. It does not matter how much it costs, this must be done." She said the widespread flooding has resulted in unprecedented manufacturing disruptions, and it will take factories a long time to recover.
The Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) called on the Thai government to speed up crisis-control measures in order to minimize effects across the supply chain.
The positive upshot of this criticism may be that Thailand will at last pay more attention and invest in long-term plans to deal with the environmental problems that face it.
The new Pheu Thai government won a landslide election based on policies to tickle the fancy of the Thai electorate. Just three months into its term of office, many of the goodies offered voters have been modified as the policies were not well thought-out in the first place. They were proposed only as vote getters.
The Thai bureaucracy is highly inefficient and the stinging criticism by Japanese firm executives will hopefully rattle a few cages in the current government to address the long-term environmental challenges of Air, Water, Earth, that face the country.
The “mai pen rai” (it doesn’t matter) culture of Thailand needs to be supplanted by a more 21st century approach to dealing with the substantive issues that national governments are supposed to solve, rather than the crowd-pleasing goodies that get the governments elected.
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