In an interview to egov, Kraisorn Pornsutee, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Royal Thai Government, told that Thailand is aiming to emerge as the new ICT hub of the ASEAN region by 2008. The Royal Thai Government is committed to increase the required visibility in the region. Even, Chadamas Thuvasethakul, director of Thailand’s National IT Committee Secretariat, drawing on analysis in the UNDP Human Development Report 2001, remarked that in the coming decade Thailand would aim to move from being a dynamic adopter to a potential leader in the ICT domain. And, for this, Thailand needed to increase the proportion of knowledge workers from 12% in 2001 to three-fold by 2010.
In terms of e-Readiness, Thailand currently ranks third after Singapore and Malaysia in the region. However, as for now the penetration rate of broadband in Thailand is very low being about 1% (600,000 users of broadband), which according to plans is to increase to 10% in the next two years. Given this scenario, realising the goal to be the ICT hub in ASEAN seems rather difficult if not impossible.
It may be recalled that on 25th November 2000 leaders of the ten member countries of ASEAN signed the eASEAN Framework Agreement to begin a collective effort to plug ASEAN into the global networked economy. Nevertheless, the Agreement commits ASEAN members to an implementation schedule to achieve digital readiness for the region in order to develop the basis for ASEAN’s competitiveness into the future, better the lives of their citizens through the application of information and communication technologies and foster the spirit of ASEAN community. Also, according to the Agreement, eASEAN member countries have resolved to encourage the development of skills and proficiency in using ICT through training and exchange of experiences. Besides, the more advanced countries have also agreed to assist less ICT enabled members in their capacity building effort through the sharing of training resources. The member countries have also committed to deliver more government services using ICT to make it more efficient and more widely disseminated.
Thailand, in the given context, is genuinely aspiring to don the mantle of the ICT leadership in the ASEAN region. But, the task ahead is daunting. It needs to tread cautiously and committedly, to achieve the desired leadership that it strives for.