March 2006

Thailand Partnership for Development

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The Thai capital Bangkok recently held ‘Thailand Partnership for Development – Conference of Interested Parties’ in which diplomats, government administrators, CEOs, media barons, and a host of others participated organised at the Government House.

‘Thailand Partnership for Development – Conference of Interested Parties’ is an initiative set forth almost a year ago, when the Royal Thai Government set up a ‘Special Project Committee’ on 2nd February 2005, for the purpose of developing a framework on the Partnership-for-Development programme.

The framework was created with the intention to ask for international cooperation from government and private sector of other countries in implementing Government Special Projects in Thailand. It may be noted that ‘Government special projects for development’ refers to those projects, which requires specific expertise, latest technology and large volume of investments; whose benefits shall be a well-prepared infrastructure which raises standard of living, strengthen economy and promote competitiveness of the whole country.

The conference opened with an impeccable speech by the Thai Prime Minister, Dr. Thaksin Shinawatra, who emphasized on the identified areas of development in Thailand and the crucial role that foreign companies and organisations that can play in this regard. “The scope of our cooperation is virtually boundless. The format is open and flexible,” said Dr. Thaksin.

In order to focus specifically on each of the defined sectors of development, the conference had five breakout sessions in the post inaugural session. These areas included infrastructure and construction; natural resources and the environment; information and communication technology; national defense; and others such as, various other sectors namely agriculture, science and technology, culture, and public health services.

While the infrastructure and construction session focused mainly on the mass transit system in Bangkok and an integrated water resource management system for the country, the session on natural resources and the environment envisaged a system for converting waste to energy as well as the creation of a bio-diversity database and a national digital map of natural resources.

The session on information and communication technology (ICT), marked by presentations by Ministry of ICT, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Industry and Ministry of Culture, proposed a number of projects aimed towards development of advanced IT-based systems through an infrastructure backbone for the Government in the form of a government virtual private network termed the ‘Government Nervous System (GNS)’. Such a network would connect all areas of the country through the power of broadband transmission, employing cutting edge technology and Triple Play services, on the basis of existing ICT infrastructure. This would also effectively link government agencies together as well as provide integrated, online e-Government services on-demand for the people.

In the session it was also highlighted that software applications for many agencies still need to be developed in order to utilise this new platform. Specifically, in the area of e-Education, the proposed project titled – “Thailand Hub for Integrated National Knowledge” (THINK) presented by Ministry of Education showcased the plan to integrate the process of educational content production and connecting to knowledge providers and distribution units. Such a system would enable students to benefit from “courses-on-demand” and foster a system of lifelong learning enhancing Thailand’s human resources.

Other government agencies such as Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Industry also expressed their need to go further online and have a total solution system in order to serve the public better and increase the competitiveness of the country. Of special mention was the proposed initiative of Ministry of Commerce towards creation of IT-driven Cluster Development, implementing Thailand e-Logistics project and estab-lishing a national IPR Centre, with the plan of Ministry of Industry to develop the Thai Standardization System and e-Services for industrial modernisation.

The session on National Defense discussed about new security challenges and the compelling need to modernise defense mechanisms through better technology, knowledge and intelligence.
The session comprising sectors namely – agriculture, science and technology, culture and public health services, discussed projects on food trace ability, modernisation of tuna and dairy industries, development of alternative energy sources, establishment of a world-class Science and Technology University, setting up centres of excellence in various medical services and promoting research, development and production of various vaccines and medical products.

Moving away from the traditional mode of cooperation in which governments are asked to provide assistance for a country’s development, Government of Thailand is rather seeking expert third-party views as an impartial outsider looking in at the country’s development efforts. The Thai Govern-ment is looking forward to innovative and practical business proposals to utilise the expertise and know-how from around the world for advancement of Thailand.

Clearly, the Thailand Partnership for Development – CoIP marked the beginning of an ambitious initiative to lead Thailand towards a path of holistic growth and development through cross-national collaboration and partnerships.

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