How does the opening of the ASEAN community relate to Bangkokians? : Suggestions for adaptation (3)

     Considering the effects and opportunities that will be occurring as the country enters into the ASEAN Community in the year 2015 that I have explained in the previous article, Bangkokians need to prepare and accept the change. Important areas where Bangkokians need to be prepared for are as follows: 

     1) Understanding the ASEAN Community
     As the population and entrepreneurs lack knowledge, understanding and realization on the coming of ASEAN Community, Bangkokians could lose opportunities or fail to gain advantages of it. Unprepared for the change will also have a serious effect on the people of Bangkok if they are not able to prepare for the change in time for the opening of free trade. Due of these reasons, both entrepreneurs and labors in many occupations, including people who live in Bangkok shall also learn the advantages of the coming of ASEAN Community. For example, the regulations and procedures in asking for special offers from the ASEAN Economic Community, laws on the Rule of origin, and the requirements of entering foreign countries for investment etc.
     2) Learning about the neighboring countries
     The main problem of people in Bangkok is the lack of knowledge of the neighboring  countries. They are different from people who live near to the borders and thus the people of Bangkok have opportunities to relate to neighboring countires and people who have different language, dialects, accents and cultures. The Thai education system also does not  contribute much towards learning about the neighboring countries; the text on historical Thailand that relates to neighboring countries is mostly based on nationalism- creating the attitude of an unfriendly relationship.
     In preparing for the opening of ASEAN Community, Bangkokians should put more weight on understanding their neighbors through searching for their interestes and looking up the  right information about them. This could even include taking a trip to the neighboring countries to be able to relate more to them. 
     Apart from this, learning the culture of Muslims who have related teachings with Islam is also important. This is because a lot of people in ASEAN believe in Islam, whereby the teachings and cultures are different from most Thai people and people who live in Bangkok. For example, the teaching and culture of consumption, way of living, quotes, attitudes, culture in doing businesses, teachings on loans and borrowings etc is all different. The problem of no knowledge and understanding, and not accepting the differences in cultures may block the opportunities to increase market share and operate with businesses in which the people are mostly Muslims, and possibly cause problem of  unacceptance and disruption. 

     3) Practicing of foreign language
     The main problem of people in Bangkok in preparing to be one of the members in the ASEAN Community is the lack of skill in communicating in English and neighboring languages. English has already been specified to be used as a central  language of ASEAN, but it seems that high ranking personnel in Bangkok have got a lower standard of English skill in comparison to the neighboring countries, something which has been found by many researchers. Apart from the English language, Mandarin Chinese could also be one important language in communicating with businesses throughout the ASEAN.because the Chinese are one big community group which have an impact on the economic aspect of each ASEAN country.      For example, Malaysia has 26 percent of Chinese out of the total population; however, contributes to 39 percent of business owners in the stock exchange market. Also, there are Chinsese Indonesian and Phillipines of 3 and 1 percent respectively, but who control the private economic sector up to 70 and 60 percent respectively. In addition, according to the information on ranking the riches in Forbes magazine from the year 2011, the record confirms the top 10 richest persons (8 out of 10) belong to a Chinese lineage in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. 
     Due to these reasons, Bangkokians shall turn to put more attention to practicing English, put an interest on neighboring countries languages, and the Chinese language. 

     4) Developing knowlege and skill of specialized professions
     Bangkokians have the need to increase skilled labors so to increase the skills and production of labors due to  the start up cost of production and labor intensive industry of Thailand being at  risk of losing competitivemess. The policy to increase minumum wage to 300 baht per day, and the opening of free trade and investment from neigboring countries with much lower labor cost will cause unskilled labor in Thailand to be at risk for becoming unemployed. Along with the economic structure of the country being pushed to become one which has a higher economic value,  labor demands with higher skill and production demand will both rise. The middle to low skilled labors in Thailand could face problems with the quality of work due to the education system that emphasizes on producing quantity of graduates but lacks on quality.
     Considering the big picture of the country, we need to transform the quality of the Thai education system as a whole and focus on smaller details. Entrepreneurship and career organizations should also cooperate to push foward higher standards of professions and emphasize on the training and development of personnels in ranges of careers- including management testing skill and competition in specialized careers. As individual people, we shall put attention to continuous personal learning and development in our occupation and wider knowlege etc. 

     5) Developing skills in cross country entreprenuers 
     For those who are enterpreneurs, the ASEAN Community can bring both opportunities and threats. Preparing for the coming change is needed by entrepreneurs; to explore and understand laws and regulations about trade and investment in ASEAN countries. The standard of products and services should be adapted to go along with the whole region, while laws and regualtions on hiring foreigners, exploring information and knowledge about the competition and consumer behaviors in target markets for export and investment are all important. 
     The entrepreneurs also need to improve the management within the company to be more effective and up to date so to prepare the organization ready for the competition and doing business across cultures and conditions with diverse ethnic labors. The location of the business across the country or the movement of a production  site to another country would also need to adapt to the change in language and communication using English throughout the organization.  Moreover, there would be a need to look for local people as an alliance in business, to hire the locals as an assistant for the benefit of trading and services people in that area.
     However, the preparation of Bangkokians also depends on the policy makers, the Bangkok organizers, and the related team. People in Bangkok seriously need to cooperate more intensely to present and request for direction and strategies for the policy and ways to improve Bangkok city. Along with cooperating in closely examing the management of the Bangkok management team, politicians, and related units to develop Bangkok city to have sharp direction, preparatings should also be made for the coming opportunities with the opening of the ASEAN Community.
Kriengsak Chareonwongsak



Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Center of Business and Government.


Source : amthaipaperissue0090