Economic Quadrangle Seminar - Cooperation for regional success
All the ceremony, but enough of the substance?
Photos: Phisut Itsaracheewawat
The Economic Quadrangle Seminar was held at the Empress
Hotel on December 7-8, to a full and enthusiastic house of visiting
dignitaries and business people. This seminar is an annual forum and
workshop for the Economic Quadrangle Project, consisting of ten Chambers of
Commerce of Northern Thailand plus those of Yunnan China, Laos, and Myanmar,
all nations along the Mekong River.
very colorful group of delegates from Bangladesh with Korn Dabbharansi (with
the flowers) and his wife
The purpose of the Economic Quadrangle Project is to
promote and build awareness between the private sector and government in
developing the economy and investment potential of the four member
countries. Like the European Union and NAFTA agreements in the Americas,
Southeast Asia has realized that more growth and prosperity can accrue to
each country if resources and investments are pooled to develop a strong
Deputy Prime Minister, Korn Dabbharansi opened the 4th economic quadrangle
A number of key initiatives are required to make this a
reality. Perhaps the most important of these is infrastructure development,
such as transport networks (north-south and east-west corridors) linking the
region for both trade and tourism. Secondly, cross-border trade and
investment barriers need to be lessened or eliminated, and finally there
must be development of human resources and skill competencies, protection of
the environment and promotion of sustainable development.
A number of speakers at the Seminar addressed the
opportunities and obstacles facing cooperative regional development. Former
Deputy Prime Minister, Korn Dabbharansi, emphasized very strongly the need
for private sector implementation of these initiatives, however no details
were provided about how the private sector could fund such projects on the
scale of the key initiatives.
and representatives from the Thai government (on left) and China (on right)
Korn Dabbharansi also outlined other projects related to
and connected with the Quadrangle Project, such as PM Thaksin’s new
Economic Cooperation Strategy (ECS) between Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and
Myanmar; the recent deep-water port discussions between Thailand and
Myanmar; and the BIMST project - similar to ECS but with western neighboring
countries Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
Jaseem Ahmed from the Asian Development Bank (ADB)
reported on the projects being undertaken by the Greater Mekong Subregion
(GMS) Program. Since 1992, the GMS countries (Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar,
Thailand, Vietnam, and Yunnan China) have embarked on a program of economic
cooperation under the support of the ADB. The ADB’s priority now is the
all-important transport network, linking the entire region with land lines
to facilitate trade.
The Vice-Minister for Tourism and Sport, Krirk-Krai
Jirapaet, spoke candidly about the opportunities and barriers for tourism by
having a regional approach. He informed the seminar that the region expects
to double its tourist volume in the next six years, however voiced the
concern that he was unsure whether the existing infrastructure has the
capacity to handle this increase.
Krirk-Krai Jirapaet’s talk was perhaps the liveliest of
the day, provoking representatives from Bangladesh and Cambodia to challenge
some of his opinions on good-faith discussions regarding GMS (regional)
visas and cooperative tourist site promotion.
Krirk-Krai Jirapaet remarked that “we don’t lack
ideas, but lack implementation”, a sentiment that world-renowned
competitiveness expert, Michael Porter, said in his final report to the
Prime Minister regarding Thailand earlier this year.
At this two-day seminar there was a bewildering array of
organizations working on regional development that does not lack for ideas,
but is deficient in precise implementation plans followed by action that
truly benefits all citizens. No one doubts that transport networks will
facilitate trade and tourism, and that Free Trade Agreements (FTA) will
bring tariffs down enabling greater goods and services exchange.
What was missing from the seminar were specific plans
addressing sustainable development. Who exactly is to benefit from these
initiatives? Sustainable development means limiting unrestrained growth to
address quality of life issues such as environmental resources. There was no
discussion as to whether farmers should be involved at the outset in FTA
agreements so that they are not blind sighted by lowered barriers on their
existing crops, so that they can plan for alternative exportable crops. The
issue of monoculture for export versus biodiversity for sustainability was
also not explored. What did not seem to be realized by some delegates was
that it is the globalization debate on a smaller scale.
For a wealth of information on GMS see
Victory over drugs announced on December 3 by PM Thaksin
Do we hear chickens being counted?
By Chin Ratitamkul
On December 3, Chiang Mai governor, Suwat Tantipat,
presided over the ceremony to declare “victory over drugs”, at Chiang
Mai University’s (CMU) convention hall. A number of associated
organizations received certificates, and also took an oath in the front of
His Majesty the King’s portrait, to not become involved with drugs.
took part in the ceremony to announce the victory over the drugs at CMU’s
Governor Suwat said that according to the government’s
policy to fight drugs, declared in February 1 2003, the result had been very
satisfying and successful.
The drug combat operation center in Chiang Mai
successfully destroyed a number of drug networks. Over 400 people who were
involved with drugs were arrested and in addition, over 26,000 drug addicts
had been sent for rehabilitation.
The strategies involved had three 3 major steps - the
first and second being to find and destroy the networks, and the third to
assist in the rehabilitation and recovery of drug addicts into society.
Governor Suwat said “We now are on the third phase. The
Government insists that we recover the love relationship in the drug
addicts’ families, to return them to our society.”
In a televised address, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the result
of the government’s drug crusade was beyond his expectation, and he was
overwhelmed learning that a drug problem which had snowballed over the
decades took less than a year to wipe out. “Today marks history for all
Thai people” PM Thaksin said.
CMU and University
of Ohio collaborate
Chiang Mai University (CMU), led by its English
Department, and the Global Learning Community, University of Ohio, USA, have
completed a cultural drive and collaborative research project.
Left) Asst. Prof. Yaowapa Sangkhasilapin, English Department, CMU; Greg
Emery, Director of Global Learning Community, Ohio University after
successful completion of the joint program.
24 CMU students and 40 Ohio students took part in the
first joint project between the two universities, to conduct research on 14
local Chiang Mai entrepreneurs lacking start-up capital.
The research was divided into two steps, with the first
step done by the Thai students, gathering information from local
manufacturers, and then sending the information to their US counterparts to
finish the analysis process.
Asst Prof. Yaowapa Sangkhasilapin, the English Department
Head, said that this co-project was not only aimed to help develop student
research and English skills, but also raised local entrepreneurs ability to
be able to find the right niche to expand their business into the USA.
“The reason we chose to initiate this collaborative program with CMU is
that we consider Chiang Mai as a dynamic city, and we foresee a bright
future in this city”, said Greg Emery, Director of Global Learning
Community, Ohio University.
Underpasses to help
relieve the city traffic jams
But will exacerbate the problems during construction
The underpasses at Kuang Sing and Sarn Dek intersections
is estimated to cost 500 million baht, with construction expected to be
completed before Songkran 2006, according to the contract signed the end of
October. However, the construction plan is almost a month behind, after only
Teerathamrong, Highway District Engineer of the Second Chiang Mai Highway
District, explaining the traffic situation.
Technicians and engineers in charge of the project expect
the number of traffic related problems to actually increase during the
construction period, causing traffic jams and more inconvenience while
traveling in Chiang Mai.
Pakorn Teerathamrong, Highway District Engineer of the
Second Chiang Mai Highway District, said that the Ministry of Transport and
Communications has hired a private company to construct the underpass at
Kuang Sing intersection between Highway No.11 and 107, with a project value
of 243,289,721 baht, while Sarn Dek intersection on Highway No. 11 and 118
is costed at 268,823,714 baht.
Jilathep Limited Partnership has been granted the
contract for the construction in both areas, and must complete their work
within 900 days, finishing by April 10 2006. Penalties exist for delays
fixed at around 80,000 baht per day.
The Bridge Construction Office of the Highway Department
will supervise this project, and all involved state that the project will be
finalized on time.
To assist people in Chiang Mai get through the
construction areas easily, cars coming from the Rincome Intersection can
avoid the construction area on Kuang Sing Intersection by taking a left on
Lanna Commercial School Road, get through Chotana Road at a Soi of the
Office of Accelerated Rural Development, or by using the new road beside the
Military Petroleum Authority leading towards Mae Rim District Road or the
Middle Ring Road.
Motorists approaching from Sarn Dek Intersection (or
Lamphun province) can avoid the construction area by taking a left to the
new road beside Kam Thieng market which will lead to the city on Sri Phum
Corner, or the road next to Chiang Mai Rajabhat Institute. Cars arriving
from Chiang Mai City can turn left on the road next to Bang Chak gas
station, which will lead to Super Highway Road, and can make a U-turn, and
take a left on Lanna Commercial School road which is the shortcut to Mae Rim
district as well.
Cars coming from Mae Rim district can avoid the
construction area by taking a left on a Soi on Chotana 6 road which can lead
through Super Highway on the street next to Lanna Hospital. Anyone who wants
to go into the city can make a U-Turn underneath the Pa Ton Bridge.
For Sarn Dek Intersection, cars from Mae Jo three-way
intersection can use the middle ring road of the Department of Rural
Highways, cutting through the Super Highway again at Nong Pratheep junction.
Cars which are from Doi Saket district or Chiang Rai
province can take a left at the intersection of the Middle Ring Road of the
Department of Rural Highways, cutting through the city by-passing Nong
Pratheep Junction, or take a left into Chiang Mai Business Park next to AIS
Office, then taking a right to the Super Highway next to Carrefour
Cars which come from the city can take a left at Kaew
Nawarat Junction which cuts through to Tung Hotel Road, then using the route
beside San Goolek Cemetery, to get to the super highway on Mae Jo
intersection, making a U-turn to go to Doi Saket district.
Or perhaps a move to Chiang Rai would be in order?
Chiang Mai Motor Show showing new models
But will they trade rickshaws?
Itsaracheewawat and Natchawi Srirat
The 11th Chiang Mai Motor Show was held at Chiang Mai
Central Airport Plaza. The latest models from many leading car manufacturers
were on display, including Peugeot, Mazda and Audi.
Mai Deputy Governor, Thongchai Wongrianthong and Srivalai Chaisaovaong at
the 11th Chiang Mai Motor Show.
Thongchai Wongrianthong, Chiang Mai Deputy Governor,
presided over the opening ceremony expressing that he was pleased to see an
event like this hosted in Chiang Mai, because it proved that Chiang Mai was
ready to be an auto center market in the northern region.
Srivilai Chaisaovong, Managing Director of Prempracha Co.
Ltd., said that the car sales business in Chiang Mai was showing a positive
sign, increasing about 20 percent in sales this year.
“There is a strong movement showing that Chiang Mai car business is
going to boom. Both Japanese and European cars are gaining more popularity,
especially the latter. People are changing their attitudes toward European
cars finding that they are quite inexpensive in terms of upkeep,” she
Mysterious craters in Mae Hong Son
Japanese treasure troves or Ya Ba hiding places?
Several craters have been discovered in a main drug
dealer network village in Mae Hong Son province, and its Governor is keen to
develop the holes as new tourist attractions.
The holes in the ground were discovered when local
police, soldiers, and members of the Local Administration Department
targeted a group of drug dealers, which resulted in the arrest of 1 person,
and the seizure of 90,000 pills of Ya Ba.
However, while digging around, the task force found many
large craters, with two outstanding examples about 500 meters south of the
village. All sides of the craters were covered with stones and small rocks,
covering approximately 100 rai, and it is assumed that the stones and small
rocks are solidified lava.
Wijit Supawiroj, assistant village headman, said that
these craters were actually found a long time ago, and the name of the
village Ban Kued Sam Sib, means Thirty Pits. The two smallest craters were
used as a cemetery for horses, cows, buffaloes and other dead animals, and
it was local belief that there was a spirit living there.
In 2000 and 2001, some Japanese tourists attempted to
descend to the bottom of the crater, but their 700 meter long rope did not
reach the bottom of the pit. People who lived in that area assume that the
number of Japanese groups which followed came to find the lost treasures of
Japanese soldiers, bringing with them various treasure maps. According to
the history of World War 2, Japanese soldiers hid many precious objects in
the crater and caves in the area of Pangmapha district.
Wijit also said that if Mae Hong Son province would
develop the craters into a tourist attraction, people in the village would
be ready to help since most of the villagers are poor and would be grateful
for this new, positive development in their lives. Currently, they are
thought of as being a drug village, so they do not to get the necessary
funding from the government for much needed public utilities.
Suphoj Laowansiri, Mae Hong Son Governor, said that Mae
Hong Son province would develop these craters as a new tourist attraction,
and feasibility studies are currently underway. Once the development of this
area is completed (and any WWII treasure dug up), the villagers will benefit
from the influx of tourist dollars.
CAT promotes its new
private enterprise image
The Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) held a
“CAT Telecom - Close to You” promotion to mark its privatization. Chiang
Mai province together with six other provinces and the cities of Khon Kaen,
Nakhon Sawan, Rachaburi, Songkla, Chonburi and Bangkok have been chosen by
CAT to introduce their new image.
Chaikaew, (left), CAT Assistant Director and Deputy Governor, Prinya
Parnthong, (center); and Orachorn Chanwiwattana, (right), manager of Central
Airport Plaza, opening the “CAT Telecom - Close to you” activity at
Central Airport Plaza.
Charoen Chaikaew, Assistant Director of Northern CAT,
said that becoming a private company helps to improve their network to cover
more areas, and assist people access their services more conveniently.
CAT is preparing a high speed internet service and
“unbelievably low cost” international calls, to be launched on December
A reliable source said that the low cost international
calls is a business strategy to block a large Singapore telecom company.
The CAT became a private company with a registered capital of 10,000
million baht on August 14, this year.
Economic Quadrangle agrees to land links
Drive Myanmar to Vietnam via China, Thailand and sunny Laos by 2007
Rachan Veeraphan, Chairman of the Joint Economic
Quadrangle Chamber Committee, said that land transportation was the best way
to bridge an economic cooperation between Quadrangle member countries. To
this end, the government has approved an ambitious plan to build four main
roads linking Burma, China, Laos and Vietnam, to be completed by the end of
Veeraphan, Chairman of the Joined Economic Quadrangle Chambers Committee,
says that ground transportation needs to be facilitated immediately.
Although, there are 12 airlines operating in the Great
Mekong Sub-region (GMS), air transportation costs are still a burden for
local farmers to export their products.
The main transportation for shipping products from
Thailand to China is currently by river along the Mekong, and the Chinese
government had injected 240 million baht to extend this main channel to 22
meters in width and 1.5 meters deeper.
Rachan explained that the river transportation had been
going for a year and the operation was fine, but when the land
transportation was completed, its role would be ‘cruising’ only.
“It is obvious that extending land transport networks
to cover many important routes connecting our neighboring countries will
help boost the economy within this region,” Rachan said.
However there is one obstacle blocking this project, a bridge to connect
Chiang Khong district of Chiang Rai, Thailand and Huay Sai, in Bokeo
province of Laos, had not yet been endorsed.
CMU Medical Faculty, worried about
the 30 baht medical scheme
Hospitals cannot afford to subsidize treatment
The Dean of Medical Faculty Prof. Dr. Supoj Wuttikarn,
expressed his concern about the increasing pressure created by the 30 baht
scheme, “But as it is the government policy, we have to follow it. We are
worried that there are still many problems, especially the high cost of
investment” he said.
“This has affected the doctors in terms of budgeting,
as well as the number of patients that can be admitted to the Maharaj Nakhon
Chiang Mai Hospital. Most of the patients are from rural provinces and
remote villages and are seriously affected with diseases. Therefore, using
high technology medical tools and equipment for treatment will certainly
increase treatment expenses,” he noted.
An example from the past shows treatment costs totaling
up to 100,000 baht with the central authorities compensating the hospital
with 70,000 to 80,000 baht, and the hospital itself only subsidizing another
20,000 baht, which was feasible.
However, under the government’s current policy, on a
bill of 100,000 baht, the hospital could get back only 3,000-4,000 baht from
the central authorities, and then the hospital has to submit a petition to
receive the balance back from the Provincial Public Health Office, which
normally does not have sufficient funds to pay for it.
Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital is the biggest
hospital in the Northern region, with more than 2,500-3,000 patients per day
using its services. It has 1,800 beds for inpatients. “This indicates that
the expenses to actually operate the hospital are quite high too, plus the
hospital needs to buy good quality equipment to serve the increasing number
of patients, which again requires more money. Under the current system, the
hospital just can not afford it. This is a major problem which needs to be
solved urgently”, said Dr. Supoj.
Private Sector is key factor Northern economic development
Korn Dabbharansi speaks new party’s line
Korn Dabbharansi, the new Thai Rak Thai party member,
said that the private sector was encouraged to take more part in developing
the economy in the Northern Region, implementing government initiated
projects, developing their products, and planning wise marketing strategies.
Dabbharansi says that the private sector is a key factor to boost the
Northern economic region, rather than the government.
At the seminar on Quadrangle Economic Cooperation it was
discussed how to develop this ambitious Quadrangle region. The government
had started many projects such as the Greater Mekong Sub-Region (GMS),
Economic Cooperation Strategy (ECS) and Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri
Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), which will be discussed
in more in detail in Phuket, in February next year.
Korn Dabbharansi, the former Deputy Prime Minister,
expressed his concerns in his opening address over the development project
in that there should be side by side collaboration between government and
private sectors. “When the government initiates development projects, it
is the private sector’s duty to elaborate and drive them successfully. If
there is no cooperation between private sectors, those projects could not be
implemented,” he said.
He said that the Burmese government had agreed to construct a 18
kilometre road from the Thai-Burmese border into Burma’s Myawaddi town,
and then to connect with a deep sea port in Tawai, the capital of Burma’s
Tannasserrim region. “This joint project with the Burmese government will
bring great benefits to us. Not only will it help us export our products to
Europe and Middle East countries more conveniently, but it also saves us 16
days shipping costs,” he said.
Quadrangle Expo 2003
open until December 14
The second annual Quadrangle Expo was presided over by
Korn Dabbharansi on December 6. Many guests from a number of neighboring
countries were present, as well as representatives of 10 Chambers of
Commerce in the upper north region, including the Chairman of the Chambers
of Commerce from China, Laos and Myanmar, and delegates from the Bilateral
Trade Countries, Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh.
Dabbharansi (center), with his wife (left) and his two sons standing by
(right), prepares to cut the ribbon for the opening of the Quadrangle Expo.
The activities covered by the Quadrangle Expo are divided
into 4 parts. The first consists of Products Expo, including local products
and products from member countries of the Quadrangle, featuring pottery and
silver ware from China, and costumes from Myanmar.
The second part consists of Thai export products, rarely
found in Thailand itself, including many additional exhibitions such as the
progress of the Quadrangle Economic Projects, with the highlight of the
exhibition being the largest paper Thai style house in the world. Cultural
shows from four countries on rwo main stages round up the program.
The third part is a seminar following up on the progress
of the Quadrangle Economic Project, to combine the same vision and point of
view in investment, service, tourism and trade between nations. This seminar
was held from December 7-8, at the Empress Hotel.
The last part included shows and performances from famous
singers such as Bua Chompu Ford.
Korn Dabbharansi said that there would be more projects
concerning the economy of the Asia region, to promote and support the Asian
region as a whole. Additional meetings and seminars between members of the
Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), consisting of six countries, and the
Economic Cooperation Strategy (ECS), consisting of four countries, were also
held on December 7-8.
With greater cooperation among the nations in the Asian Region, this
would boost the economy, and provide a greater opportunity and development
to living standards.
Medical Faculty against early retirement
Dean disagrees with the government policy
The Dean of the Medical Faculty of the Chiang Mai
University expressed his concerns over the Government Policy on early
retirement before the age of 60.
Prof. Dr. Supoj Wuttikarn, said, “It has brought us
into a difficult situation, because in the Medical Faculty alone, there are
some 5,600 staff. Many of these come from the group with responsibilities
for teaching medical students, giving lectures, and researching and working
on academic matters to help hospital work, including looking after patients,
and this group is still short of personnel and totally disagree with the
early retirement system,” he said.
Due to the economic growth and recovery, many nurses have
changed their minds and turned away from their profession to have their own
businesses, and since there has been no more recruitment for nurses as
government staff, the relative shortages of nursing personnel also makes
early retirement a problem.
At this time, the Medical Faculty still lacks many
personnel for many sections and these will be affected badly if the early
retirement system becomes compulsory, said the Dean.
A new Food Factory at Kad Suan Kaew
Good enough to eat
Kad Suan Kaew shopping park & hotel complex has
launched a new project called the “Food Factory”. This is in line with
the Provincial Public Health Office’s promotional campaign for fresh,
healthy and hygienic food.
at the new Food Factory.
Thai food has become a world-renowned cuisine, and this
new outlet sports a One Stop Service, including snacks, main dishes and
The area is a combination and cooperation between Chiang
Mai’s 15 original and most popular food shops in a consumer-friendly
Pol. Lt Suchai Kengkarnkha, Managing Director of Kad Suan Kaew, said that
the Food Factory was a new concept which customers can expect cleanliness,
freshness, and quality control. Suchai explained that it was a completely
different concept from food.com where the Food Factory was a center,
combining popular restaurants under one roof, while food.com provides more
individual stalls and restaurants.
HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to confer CMU degrees
Five honorary doctorates to be given on behalf of HM the King
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will
graciously preside over the degree ceremony at the 38th Graduation Day of
Chiang Mai University (CMU) on January 28, next year, said Asst. Prof. Dr.
Nipon Tuwanon, President of CMU.
The Princess, on behalf of His Majesty the King, will
also confer honorary doctorate degrees to Chao Duangduen na Chiang Mai in
Liberal Arts, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Therdchai Cheewaket in Science (Therapy),
Prof. Dr. Rolf G. Werner in Pharmacy, Prof. Dr. M. Roy Schwarz in Public
Health, and Ajarn Chulathat Kittibutre in architecture.
In addition, prizes will be awarded to Prof. Chitre
Jiraratsathit in Medicine, Prof. Vichitre Srisuphan in Nursing, Prof. Thawee
Tankasiri in Physics, Prof. Dr. Chote Theetranond in Parasitology, and Prof.
Sith Butre-in in Philosophy and Religion.
The university will confer degrees to all 5,465 new graduates, (23
doctorate degrees, 1,783 master degrees and 3,659 bachelor degrees). All
graduates must register from January 23-24, before attending the rehearsal
and degree ceremony, with the final rehearsal on January 27.
Duangduen na Chiang Mai who will receive an honorary doctorate in Liberal
Prof Dr Therdchai Cheewaket will receive an honorary doctorate in Sciences
Rolf G. Werner will receive an honorary doctorate in Pharmacy
Chulathat Kittibutre will receive an honorary doctorate in Architecture
M. Roy Schwarz will receive an honorary doctorate in Public Health