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Innovation key to progress in Thailand: BOT Governor

Bank of Thailand Governor Dr. Prasarn Trairatvorakul made an impassioned plea for innovation as a key to progress in Thailand. Delivering a talk on the “Global Financial System and Challenges in Thailand” at the AIT Dinner Talk jointly organized recently (25 Sept.) by the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the AIT Alumni Association. Dr. Prasarn identified innovation, a more conducive environment for conducting business, and better quality education as the three fundamentals that could catapult Thailand on a path of greater progress.
Dr. Prasarn mentioned that the expenditure on Research and Development (R&D) in Thailand is only 0.2 per cent of its GDP, while it is 1 per cent in Hong Kong. While Hong Kong wants to increase this to 3 per cent, Korea wants its R&D expenditure to be 5 per cent, he said.

Innovation is a key driving force in the economy and it impacts technology and productivity. Thailand's practice of adapting existing technology available elsewhere has to change to a system where the country leads in innovation, he added.

Further, Thailand is also experiencing a demographic change with an increase in the population of elderly people coupled with a decline in the percentage of people entering the productive age, Dr. Prasarn remarked.

The BOT Governor identified the creation of a more conducive environment for fostering business and fair competition as another imperative for progress. This is required for building confidence among foreign investors. Singapore is a good example of a place where foreign investor confidence is fairly high, he said.

Development of education was mentioned as the third critical aspect required for progress.

Improving education in Thailand, and bringing it at par with international standards is needed. While international schools are opening in Thailand, and they provide access to both expatriates and some Thais, their reach continues to be limited. This is a limited solution, he said, as the Governor stressed on the need to elevate the educational standards of primary and secondary schools all over the country.

Dr. Prasarn mentioned that to become a primary school teacher in Singapore, a student has to be among the top 20 per cent in the class. Only the best can become teachers, he said, as he quoted that the salary of a primary and secondary school teacher in Singapore was equal to that of employees in the Central Bank of Singapore.

To become a Minister in Singapore means that you should have topped your class, and to become a Prime Minister, one should have held the portfolio of the Ministry of Education, he indicated.

A proud alumnus of the Asian Institute of Technology, the Governor also highlighted the role played by AIT in development of education in the Asian region.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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