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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Thailand slides downunder in the global arena

World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010 ranking No 36 in the

World map of the 2006-2007 Global Competitiven...Image via Wikipedia

Once a member of the top 30, Thailand also saw its ranking drop last year to 34th place.

"The country's competitiveness suffers from protracted instability. Unsurprisingly, the quality of public institutions continues to deteriorate. Ranked 63rd in this category, Thailand has dropped 20 places over the past three years. Insufficient protection of property rights (75th) and security (85th) are of particular concern to the business community," the report said.
Aside from concerns over public health, Thailand's technological readiness (63rd) is also lagging. Although mobile-telephone penetration is among the densest in the world, at 124 mobile subscriptions per 100 population, the use of the Internet (21 users per 100) and computers (6 per 100) remains scarce.
On the positive side is Thailand's macroeconomic performance, which is ranked 22nd among 134 countries. The situation improved slightly from 2007 and 2008. The efficiency of the labour market (25th) constitutes another strength. Finally, the sheer size of its domestic (22nd) and foreign (18th) markets is a source of economies of scale.
On top of the chart is Switzerland, which overtakes the United States this year as the world's most competitive economy, thanks to a relatively stable performance. It is also ranked second in terms of innovation capacity and third in business-culture sophistication. The country is characterised by high spending on research and development, with strong collaboration between the academic and business sectors.
Switzerland's public institutions are rated among the most effective and transparent in the world (7th), ensuring a level playing field and enhancing business confidence; these include an independent judiciary, strong rule of law and a highly accountable public sector. Competitiveness is also buttressed by excellent infrastructure (5th) and a well-functioning goods market (5th), as well as a labour market that is among the most efficient in the world (2nd).
European economies continue to prevail in the top 10, with Finland, Germany and the Netherlands following suit.

After several years at the top of the rankings, the United States fell one place and is ranked No 2 this year, as it continues to be endowed with many structural features that make its economy extremely productive and which place it on a strong footing to ride out business cycle shifts and economic shocks.

A highlight of the report is that in Asia, Singapore remains the highest-ranked country, moving up two ranks from last year to No 3. The country's institutions continue to be ranked the best the world; at a time when confidence in governments in many countries has diminished, they are assessed even more strongly than in past years. Singapore places highest for efficiency of its goods and labour markets and No 2 for its financial-market sophistication, ensuring the proper allocation of these factors to their best use.

Singapore also has world-class infrastructure (4th), leading the world in the quality of its roads, ports and air-transport facilities. In addition, the country's competitiveness is propped up by a strong focus on education, providing highly skilled individuals for the workforce. In order to strengthen its competitiveness further, Singapore could encourage even stronger adoption of the latest technologies - especially broadband Internet - as well as the innovative capacity of its companies.

Several Asian economies perform strongly, with Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan also in the top 20.
China continued to lead the way among large developing economies, improving by one place this year, solidifying its position among the top 30. India is up one position at 49th. Taiwan rose five places to 12th position overall, thanks to a combination of small improvements in the areas of institutions (38th), infrastructure (16th) and education (15th). South Korea fell six places to 19th position.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Margaret River Wines of West Australia

I spent a few days last month in the main winemaking region of Western Australia, Margaret

Description=Location of the Local Government A...Image via Wikipedia

River (a vibrant tourist destination thanks to viticulture and exceptional surf breaks in the Indian Ocean), tasting a lot of its trademark Cab Sauvignon and Shiraz and Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blends. We got to taste more than we expected .. it's amazing

“I have nothing to declare except my genius.” Oscar Wilde can get away with such a quip, when it came time I declare that I had “a couple” of bottles of Margaret River wine in my groaning suitcase. A couple, as in a half-dozen, but hey, close enough.

Margaret River, about 280 kilometers south of Perth, offers interesting comparison points for followers of Virginia wine. The WA industry is about 40 years old and plays second banana in many countrymen’s judgment to the older and dominant South Australia region, home to Clare Valley and Barossa Valley. But, though Margaret River yields a surfeit of perfectly good same-like wines—especially of the high-alcohol, highly extracted variety—there are some real gems that reward careful attention.

The no-nonsense operations at Moss Wood “Tourist destination,” arranged a private tasting, since Moss Wood, the second-oldest winery in Margaret River, is among the few wineries there that doesn’t run a robust cellar door business. Young Alex Coultas, an assistant winemaker who let it be known that he does his share of surfing, was an able the very plummy 2007 Merlot a hearty thumbs-up. The Moss Wood reds definitely met his standard.

Many people in Margaret River get into their career through the intensive viticulture and enology programs at Curtin University. Sound familiar? In another decade Central Virginia could have scores of PVCC- and Virginia Tech-trained wine professionals running around its wineries.

Another outstanding winery experience was Vasse Felix, the granddaddy of them all, first planted by the famed Dr. Tom Cullity in 1967. Fun times were had watching the bottling line and the screw cap automation at what is also one of Margaret River’s largest producers and exporters (China and the South Pacific are fat markets for all Aussie wines, as are England and the U.S.). But the best times were had in the tasting room (hello, 2005 Heytesbury Cab. Nice structure!) and at the posh restaurant upstairs. Indeed, gorgeous restaurants and tycoon-worthy service and dining are a central aspect of the Margaret River experience, and in that it’s closer to Napa than to Central Virginia.

Other noteworthy wineries we visited include the completely biodynamic Cullen (which, like a lot of places we stopped at has a woman in charge of the winemaking operations—something that’s still anomalous though changing here) and Happs and Three Hills, which fascinated with its Petit Verdot, a bottle of which now sits on a shelf in my house awaiting age and a comparison with a more local version of same. We also tasted a lot of great stuff at Cape Mentelle, another of the originals, which I relieved of a couple bottles of its curious Botrytis Viognier dessert wine.

Most Margaret River wineries have U.S. distributors, though it takes some digging to locate their presence in Virginia. Still, it’s worth the effort if you don’t plan to cross the International Date Line anytime soon. Good on ya, mates!

Austrade are excellent supports for WA Exports

WA Wine exports - see

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

shadow puppetry alive in Thailand

It is rare nowadays to see nang talung shows being staged in Bangkok, but down south, in the

Shadow PuppetImage by Sebastian Niedlich (Grabthar) via Flickr

provinces from which this traditional dramatic form originally spread to the rest of Siam, shadow-puppet theatre is still flourishing. Of the 300-plus active puppeteers in that region, one of the most celebrated lives in the city of Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Backstage, Suchart removes one of his ‘nang talung’ puppets from its woven bamboo container.
On family land close to his own home, Suchart Subsin, named a national artist because of the valuable contributions he has made to the field of folk performance, commissioned the construction of four two-storey, wooden houses as a nang talung museum.

"I paid for it out of my own pocket because I wanted to preserve this important part of our cultural heritage," explained Suchart whom local residents affectionately address as loong (uncle).
A native of Nakhon Si Thammarat, he has been interested in nang talung from an early age. As a young man he used to put on puppet shows daily for one- or two-month stretches, often working up to eight hours a night. Back then, he said, he and his fellow puppeteers were much in demand, performing at pre-ordination parties, weddings, funerals and temple fairs. During his long career he has worked all over Thailand and is particularly proud of the time he entertained HM the King. He has also taken his puppets abroad for performances in Japan, Germany and France and is scheduled to put on a show in Australia next year.

Nang talung probably originated in India, he said, and in its early days in Siam the stories were all based on the Ramayana epic. Elements of local folklore were later incorporated into the plots and master puppeteers also created typically Thai characters which would appeal to audiences here.

"The art of nang talung is all about skilful storytelling. A puppeteer needs to have a good sense of humour in order to make the tale enjoyable and keep the audience's attention right to the very end of the show."
The major difference between nang talung and nang yai, the other style of shadow puppet theatre popular in Thailand, is the size and intricacy of the figures. The leatherwork for nang talung puppets is not as detailed and they are much smaller so one person can manipulate all the characters (up to 30) needed to tell a story. The elaborate nang yai puppets are so big and cumbersome that each requires its own personal puppeteer. The limbs and jaws of nang talung puppets are articulated so they can be made to appear to speak and move in a much more lifelike fashion than their inflexible nang yai counterparts.

Housed in four traditional houses, the shadow-puppet museum has a simple, rustic look.
Now 75, Suchart is still hale and hearty, energetically manipulating his cast of characters and putting on whichever voice - young, old, male or female - is appropriate for each. His scripts invariably contain witty references to current affairs, politics and social issues and he keeps the look right up to date by adding new characters from time to time. His latest creation is a woman who can change in a flash from being a timid southerner in typically modest garb to a supremely self-confident urban trendy sporting jeans, skimpy tank top and mobile phone.
Suchart performs sitting cross-legged on the floor of the stage, concealed behind a large piece of white cloth. This screen is illuminated from behind by a simple household lightbulb. His only

Shadow PuppetImage by Sebastian Niedlich (Grabthar) via Flickr

other aids are a microphone connected to the theatre's sound system and an electric fan. While he manipulates one puppet with his right hand, he is preparing the next cast member with his free hand. His wife acts as his assistant, playing a variety of drums and small cymbals to heighten the dramatic impact at various points in the play.

National Artist Suchart Subsin
He always performs live and says what he most enjoys is getting his audience to laugh. "My favourite characters are two professional comedians called Kaew and Thong. I'm very fond of them because I'm able to crack jokes on their behalf!"
The audience certainly seemed to appreciate his sense of humour during the short demonstration show I attended recently; we were having so much fun that the 20 minutes simply flew by!
Afterwards we were encouraged to visit the museum where the exhibits include a wide variety of nang talung figures, including several 150-year-old antiques, plus puppets used in other parts of the Kingdom (like the nang phramothai figures of the Northeast) and puppets from Turkey, India, China and Indonesia. Also on display are instruments used to provide the traditional musical accompaniment for nang talung shows such as long drums, gongs and the sor-u (alto fiddle).
"It gladdens my heart to know that people are still interested in nang talung," Suchart confided as I took my leave.

Demonstration of leather tooling.

Display of traditional musical instruments typically used during a ‘nang talung’ performance.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chugg Entertainment - Linking Thailand and Australia

Michael Chugg’s Chugg Entertainment is one of One Movement For Music’s three major players, alongside David Chitty’s Sunset Events and Sat Bisla’s A&R Worldwide. Andrew McMillen caught up with the internationally-acclaimed promoter to discuss One Movement and the changes Chugg has seen within the industry over the decades.
Andrew: What can you tell me about One Movement’s origins, Michael?
Michael: In Western Australia, we’re looking for some sort of music-based event. David Chitty from Sunset Events mentioned it to me. I’d just been at an amazing event in LA called MUSEXPO. It was a really fresh and exciting conference. I go to a lot as you’re probably aware.
I met Sat Bisla, the guy who ran that, and he was telling me that he had some interest from Asia about doing a conference in Asia. We got talking, and for me, my experience in Asia and how each country is different and how they work, the perfect place for an event like this was Perth. I told David, and the three of us got together. And here we are.

I’m specifically interested in the event’s Asia focus. You mentioned that it is a big focus or goal of the festival and conference to have some outcomes for artists who want to either explore Asia or for Asian artists coming to Australia. What provoked that interest, other than the fact that you’re based in Thailand, I believe?

Victoria harbor, from Victoria Peak - Hong Kon...Image by ttstam via Flickr

I live between Thailand and Sydney. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff up there for a long time. It’s always sort of frustrated me that the interaction between the Western music industry and the Asian music industry was pretty negligible. It’s only started to change in the last few years, slowly. That’s always been a frustration.

For me, this event was always about an Asian-Pacific focus. The Government makes no secret that we need to be part of Asia. The Socceroos play in Asia. It’s all slowly changing, and we just thought a music event would be attractive. It’s certainly neutral ground for the different Asians that are coming. We thought it would work and the support we’re getting from Asia is showing us that it probably will. It’s very exciting.
We’ve got acts coming from Japan, India, Thailand, Korea, Hong Kong, China, and we’ve got both delegates and speakers coming from all those countries. Malaysia and Singapore, have bands coming as well. There are probably bands from ten or twelve countries, plus you have South Africa, England, Scandinavia, Germany, the States, and Canada. There are bands coming from all over, and there are some huge Australian acts playing there, as well, along with a lot of the new breed.
People in on the east coast are really blown away by the quality of lineup of acts. That was the whole idea, to put acts from all over the world in front of fans in Perth so the industry can actually see them in front of a lot of people, not in a club with only five people there, which is what happens in a lot of these showcase conferences. I spoke to Myke Brown recently.

Oh yeah, from Thailand, Tata Young [pictured below]’s manager.
We talked at length about how he sees the way Asians do business is much different from the way that westerners do, in that it takes a long time to build trust. It’s not the kind of thing where you can fly into a festival and make a connection and do a deal in a day. It’s kind of built up over time.

Definitely, there is no doubt about that. It’s a bit different in some countries, but yeah, it’s all about being respected and having relationships. That’s why Sat Bisla and I certainly – because of our international work - have that respect. These people trust you enough to come down, which is a really great step.
It’s big face for us in the Asian world, to have the lineup we’ve got coming. A lot of them are really wanting to tell people about how it works in their countries. It’s already starting; out of what we’ve been doing it’s starting to be discussed between Australia and acts in Asia. It’s great. There are a couple of other initiatives that will be announced shortly. They’re all along the same line. It’s very exciting and interesting.
What are your goals with this first One Movement festival?

To do a great event, and with the things we attempt to do, go to the top level and to make it as exciting, doable, and interesting as possible. And certainly, to give the fans a great show. You’re going to have 80 bands who are all there to do a great show. It’s pretty special from that point of view.

It’s also about we’ve got the Independent Times stream, which is the indie panels. For young musicians and people wanting to get into the business and the industry, they still may be doing courses about music business. That little conference will be amazing for people wanting to get in and learn about the industry. This will be a great learning place for everybody.
I go to conferences and I learn stuff all the time. You never stop learning in this business. Just to have the opportunity to listen to the Asians tell us about the digital download, because Asia is so far in front of the rest of the world and Americans and British tell me this themselves; the Asians are just so far ahead with all the downloads and delivery of digital music. They’re way ahead of the western world, and that’s going to be a big learning curve for us.
I think the other thing about Asia is, like [GMM] Grammy Records of Thailand, and a couple of the big ones in China, they have amazing networks around the world selling music to ex-pats in their countries, in every city in the world. Grammy has two acts a week somewhere in the world working. We’ve got those people coming to tell us about that. All their music sold around the world is sold digitally. It’s quite incredible.
This is something I’ve been asking everyone I’ve spoken to for the event, so far. One Movement’s motto is “Artist, Industry, Fan United.” What do you think needs to change in order to bring those three elements more together to unify them?

Map of Australia with  Western Australia highl...Image via Wikipedia

I think that’s happening naturally because of the Internet. I think that’s something that is happening anyway and what we’re doing is bringing it all together in real time. You know, the amount of acts that we tour that barely get played on radio, press, or TV. It’s amazing these days, the amount of kids that have turned onto these acts. I think this is certainly an event where they can learn more about the industry, but the industry is being forced to get closer to the fans and the artists because of the changing way of the industry, certainly, from the recording business side of it. So I just aim to bring those elements closer. For me, the internet is the radio of the 21st century. There’s no doubt about that.
I just want to see that get closer and for people to understand it more. You have so much going on these days. There is a new business that actually originated out of an Evermore concert in Perth, a new business called Posse, where fans sell tickets to one another. It’s fantastic. Things like that, there is so much going on that people need to learn about and it’s changing so quickly. It’s incredible.
I was shown a presentation by PRS in London, by this young economist, Will Page, about the changing face of where the money is coming from. They collect from records, downloads, and gigs and all of that. It’s an incredible thing and hopefully he’ll do a presentation of that, which will just blow peoples’ minds. It’s pretty exciting. There’ll actually be shit there I want to see!
To learn more about One Movement For Music Perth in the lead-up to its October 2009 debut, you’re in the right place. To learn more about Chugg Entertainment, click here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tourism Australia downunder is Under and down

JOHN McCarthy from the Courier Mail gives his opinion on why Australia is failing as a tourist destination:

The Courier-Mail mastheadImage via Wikipedia

TOURISM officials are wondering what has happened to Australia that has caused a slump in overseas and domestic tourists.
Easy. We're boring, expensive, distant and difficult.

The Paul Hogan ShowImage via Wikipedia

The number of Australians heading overseas for holidays has almost doubled in the past decade.
For some reason, the tourism industry feels this is an abandonment but it really comes down to the fact that . . . well, why would anyone holiday here?

One-time ambassador for Australian tourism Paul Hogan summed it up by saying that despite how we thought about ourselves, the rest of the world didn't really believe we were that special.

We had become so five-minutes-ago.
"Everyone has nice beaches and waterfalls and museums and things like that," Hogan said.

The lovable larrikin commented that when Americans thought of Australia, it was now in terms of our actors rather than our beaches. I doubt that, considering most of them adopt an American accent in the movies, but it's a reasonable point.

Now they want to throw away $20 million of taxpayers' money coming up with a slogan to lure tourists to Australia when what they really need is a reason to come here.

We haven't helped matters by giving China a black eye and then developing a perception in India that we were a bunch of racist rednecks by beating up some Indian students in Melbourne.

Chinese tourist visa applications to Australia have in the past three months plummeted as much as 80 per cent because of political tensions.

Adding further insult is that the two most recent tourism campaigns - using Lara Bingle and then the ill-fated and hideously expensive spin-off from the Australia movie - have not reaped the expected rewards.

When Bingle asked, "where the bloody hell are you?" Britain and Europe replied: "In nice and interesting places like Spain, Italy and France, thanks for asking." Tourism experts said the Lara Bingle-in-a-bikini commercial put women off, and they were predominantly the ones who made the family travel decisions.

When the Australia movie spin-off tried to lure them, those who had seen the film were paralysed by boredom. Those who hadn't seen the movie thought the ad was a Lux commercial.

Australia managed to poke its head above the pack for a while because we were safe, English-speaking, warm and cheap.

But cheap doesn't work when the local currency is above US80 and, let's face it, nowhere is safe any more. Just ask those Indian students or read about the terrorism plans that were being plotted for our army barracks.

Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, AustraliaImage by In Veritas Lux via Flickr

That leaves warm and English-speaking to counteract the boring, expensive, distant and difficult.

After the novelty value of kangaroos and koalas wore off, Europeans saw us for what we were: England with better weather and less whingeing.
My family recently booked a two-week holiday to Bali but I asked myself: "Why not somewhere in Australia?"
Why am I not supporting our local tourism industry by holidaying locally?
Why not holiday on the Great Barrier Reef, for example? Well, have you seen the prices? We've been there and seen the bleached coral. The reefs on the Sinai Peninsula and Fiji were superior, more fun, less crowded and had a big point of difference: there was a sense of discovery.

Sydney? Spent 12 years there. It's just a bigger Gold Coast.

Australia, founded July 9, 1900.Image via Wikipedia

Melbourne? Hate shopping and art galleries and I look washed out in black.
Adelaide? Ummm.
Perth? Are you kidding?
Regional Australia? See Adelaide.
Kakadu? My annual income remains below seven figures.
Uluru (Ayers Rock)? Let's see. Fly to Alice Springs, drive for a day to marvel at a rock. Fly home again. Hold me back!
Tasmania? Love to, but have to keep something to do in retirement or possible brain-injury rehabilitation.
Face it, if we don't want to holiday here, why would anyone else?

If you consider that the buying power of the Australian dollar has escalated so much in the past year and that airfares, particularly to the US, have plummeted, why wouldn't you take the opportunity to holiday overseas?

Paul HoganImage by Medusa's Lover via Flickr

Hogan suggested that we should use Hugh Jackman to sell Australia in much the same way as Hogan did with his "throw another shrimp on the barbie" campaign 30 years ago. It's a good idea except Hogan's acting roles were as a laidback, laconic Aussie.

Jackman, who is apparently a top bloke, recently used knives springing from his fist to dismember half the cast in the latest X-men film. Maybe not the image we're looking for.
Hogan said his campaign worked because he invited people to have a good time, to meet some Aussies and feel welcome, but that was a product of its time.

"It'd be a terrible dried-out, burnt-out shrimp on the barbie if we were still waving it about after 30 years."




Saturday, September 12, 2009

he Ponders the division of the People

Finally, an educated farang has come out to say that the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Economist don't understand what the Thais think. Professor Stephen Young happened to pass by Bangkok, and he was interviewed by Suthichai Yoon on TV. From the interview, you can see that he really undertands Thailand very well. His view is quite impartial, coming from a man who have spent many years in Thailand.

extract from an interview with Nation editor-in-chief Suthichai Yoon, Professor Stephen Youn

Phra That Phanom, Nakhon Phanom ProvinceImage via Wikipedia

g - credited among those who discovered the bronze-age site of Ban Chiang in northeastern Thailand in 1966 (now a Unesco world-heritage site) - deplores the "ridiculous" national division he insists has resulted from Thaksin Shinawatra's "imperial" ambition.

Suthichai Yoon: Professor Young, you've been watching Thai politics closely, the red shirts, the yellow shirts, and of course you are part of Thailand as well. You grew up here, you went to the international school here. Looking from afar now, what do you think of Thailand; does it still have a future?

Professor Young: Well, I think that's the right question to ask. If you look at Thailand from afar, most foreigners don't know much about what's going on. The Western idea, the Western press coverage is very superficial.

SY: Even the New York Times?
PY: Yes, the New York Times especially. The Washington Post. The Economist. Foreigners don't know the way the Thais think. I'm more worried now about Thailand than ever before. When I first came here in 1961, that was 48 years ago, and my father was the American ambassador, we had a wonderful family relationship with Thailand. Maybe different from many foreigners. I don't speak Thai so well anymore, but I have a feeling that there's something special to us, to our family, my father, my mother, or myself, my brother, my sister about Thailand. We care about Thailand. My dad was close to His Majesty, close to [ex-PM Field Marshal] Sarit [Thanarat], and in 1961 there was this [big] gap between the Bangkok elite and the rural poor, a real gap. So, today, 2009, when I hear the red shirts say there's a gap between Bangkok and ban nok [upcountry], I think it's ridiculous. Today, there's a gap, but in 1961 it was much bigger.
I just went back to Ban Chiang. When I went there 43 years ago, there was no electricity, no flush toilet, and if you needed hot water, you had to boil it. Chicken was too expensive. You had to eat little fish from the pond. Today there's electricity, flush toilets, hot water and ATM machines. Most of the houses have Internet.

SY: At that time, there wasn't even a telephone.
PY: No telephone. Radios. I remember we had radios with batteries. The strongest station was communist Chinese, broadcasting Chinese propaganda, so I remembered sitting in Ban Chiang listening to Chinese communist propaganda, and in Thai.

SY: From Beijing?
PY: From Beijing. Radio Beijing. Today it's television, international television. The people are watching soccer games in Europe. The people have cell phones. A lady who was with me was calling another lady to tell the car to pick me up at the airport. This is modern Thailand. So many changes. In 1961 it was my dad, with the passion of His Majesty and Field Marshal Sarit. He was a dictator, a military dictator, he was a tough guy, but he cared about the people, especially Isaan [the Northeast], and His Majesty also cared about Isaan. So the government began all these programmes. The roads in Ban Chiang are all cement. Before, it was dirt road. Thailand has done so much and I think in particular, the people in Bangkok, the Bangkok elite. In particular His Majesty deserves appreciation for what he's done for Thailand. So when I hear all these strange things about Thailand not having this and that, the need to change, some intellectuals want to run a revolution or something, I think this is crazy. It makes no sense to me.

SY: Why do you think they have this rumbling about change?
PY: My feeling, quite frankly, is that this goes back to the ambition of one man.

SY: Thaksin?
PY: Thaksin. And I ask myself why is he such a threat to Thailand?

Thai bells at the Golden Mount in Bangkok, Tha...Image via Wikipedia

SY: You knew him before?
PY: No. Only by reputation. When I first heard of him, when he started the Shin Corporation, what I heard was: he's a police major who got a contract from the government for telephones after one of the coups. Now I ask myself, back then, 1993, something like that, how do you get a contract from the government? What do you have to do to get a contract? And I noticed Khun Thaksin made more money, became more wealthy, all because he has a government licence.

SY: A monopoly.
PY: A monopoly, not because he was out there working like other people. He had a monopoly that the government gave him. The Thai people represented by the government gave him an exclusive, elitist, monopolistic special privilege. This is aristocracy. This is elitism. This is not a man who started poor in a village and worked his way up. He has special connections and I've seen him use many special connections. But I've never seen Thai society so divided. Even the divisions over the West during the time of King Rama 4 and 5 were not this serious, neither was the division over the communists. The communists failed in Thailand. They could not divide the Thai people.
Thaksin has divided the Thai people and this is sad. The Thai people should not be so divided and angry. Even my family friends, the family is divided. Some of the brothers and sisters are yellow, and some are red. And around the dinner table, they argue and get angry. So I think ... sabai ... where did it go?

SY: But Thaksin claimed that he changed the face of Thai politics. He made the masses, the rural people, speak up for the first time. It's the first time they benefited from politics. They can touch, consume and eat politics.
PY: I think that's ridiculous. Rural people in their communities have always had their patrons. They can always have some influence in this group and that group. I have my view, my patron. I look up to you, you take care of me. You are at the provincial level and you reach the Bangkok level, so I can get it to the Bangkok level only through you. This has been true for a long time.
Thaksin is in exile. He wants a pardon, he wants his money back, he doesn't want the conviction. Other Thai political leaders have not acted like that, if you look back.

SY: All the way back to Pridi Panomyong?
PY: Before that. We had the coup of 1932 and Prince Nakornsawan, the powerful Chakri prince, was asked to leave. He did, and he died in exile and never came back. His Majesty King Prachatipok felt there was a new situation and he abdicated. He went to England. He died in England. At his cremation, in 1941 I think, there were his queen and several relatives. No complaints. Pridi: He felt the situation changed. He left. General Pao, the powerful police general, left when Sarit took over and did not come back. Sarit, after he died, there was an argument how much money he made and the government took the money back. The family did not argue. Khun Thanom lost his money and went into exile. So I ask myself why is Thaksin different? Why doesn't he think like a Thai?

SY: Why?

BANGKOK, THAILAND - FEBRUARY 28: Thailand's fo...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

PY: I think it's because he's not really a Thai Thai. He has other ideas in his head. He does not say kreng jai. He does not think about merit and sin. He thinks about how he can be a powerful man. He wants to be the leader of everybody, the big boss of everybody. This kind of thinking to me reflects not Thai Buddhism, but Chinese imperial thinking. The imperial thinking of the Chinese emperor. The Chinese theory. If you read about this, and I've studied a lot about it, we see this thinking.
So everything that Thaksin does, how he ran his government, how he put his money here and there, it's just like 2,000 years ago. Same thinking. This idea was that, above the earth is heaven, or tian, and there's one man- and underneath is everybody else. And when Thaksin wants to control the government, police, army, judges, businesses, TV, newspapers - that's bringing everything under him. No Thai leader in history has ever tried to do this. King Naresuen never tried to do this. King Rama I didn't try to do this. This is something new and different. Therefore, the Thai people are divided over this. Something new was added by Thaksin.

Sukhumvit roadImage via Wikipedia

Professor Stephen B Young is the global executive director of the Caux Round Table and an editorial commentator for Twin Cities Daily Planet newswire. He was educated at the International School Bangkok, Harvard College (graduating Magna Cum Laude) and Harvard Law School (graduating Cum Laude). He was a former assistant dean at Harvard Law School and former dean of Hamline University School of Law. He is widely recognised for his knowledge of Asian history and politics, and has taught at various prestigious institutes. His articles have been published in well-known newspapers including the New York Times

Thursday, September 10, 2009


HMAS Darwin, a Royal Australian Navy Adelaide Class Frigate has today commenced Austhai

Royal Australian Navy sailors in 1998Image via Wikipedia

09, a combined maritime exercise with the Royal Thai Navy in the Gulf of Thailand.

The exercise, taking place in waters off Sattahip, will see Darwin operate with Thai missile corvette, HTMS Rattanakosin and the frigate HTMS Kririrat.

During the week long exercise, core mariner and warfare skills will be practised including seamanship, Anti-Submarine Warfare, Anti-Air Warfare, Maritime Interdiction Operations and Anti-Surface Warfare.

“Darwin is proud to be representing the RAN in this iteration of Austhai, an important exercise in the Royal Australian Navy’s exercise

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calendar,” said Commanding Officer of HMAS Darwin, Commander Christopher Smith, CSM, RAN.

“Austhai 09 will enhance proficiency in core mariner skills, professional standards and safety while promoting a shared understanding of procedures for operations between the maritime forces of Australia and Thailand.”

“During the harbour phase we will provide practical demonstrations on fire-fighting techniques, casualty handling and first aid. During the sea phase Darwin will mentor our Thai counterparts in a boarding exercise and provide lessons learnt from Royal Australian Navy deployments to the Middle East Area of Operations.”

“Mutual understanding will be enhanced with personnel from both nations taking part in an exchange program,” said Commander Smith.

Austhai 09 is the fifth iteration of the exercise, recognising that Australia and Thailand share a common interest in the security and stability of the Southeast Asian region.

Media contact:
Defence Media Liaison (02) 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009



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UNDER MEDIA EMBARGO UNTIL: Thursday, 10 September, 2009

One Movement for Music Perth (OMFM) makes another major step forwards this week in unveiling the third round of speakers and showcasing artists for this groundbreaking event to be held October 16-18.

Western Australian Tourism Minister, Dr Liz Constable said that One Movement For Music would create a cutting-edge live-music event, giving thousands of Western Australians and interstate and international visitors access to some of the world‟s best new talent.

"With music’s international heavyweights coming to Perth for the conference as well as 80 bands from around the world coming to showcase their music, One Movement for Music Perth is a truly significant international music event" Dr Constable said.

MUSEXPO ASIA PACIFIC – Held at the Parmelia Hilton Hotel
OMFM is proud to announce the last round of industry leaders who will be taking the stage for MUSEXPO Asia Pacific at One Movement for Music Perth, including Julie Horton from Realsongs, Mark Poston of EMI Australasia and Paul Piticco from Dew Process/Secret Service.
They join, among others, Diane Warren (international hit-maker extraordinaire and Founder of publisher Realsongs) and Dave Holmes (Coldplay‟s worldwide manager and founder of 3D Artist Management) for their first major speaking engagements in the Asia Pacific region, Korda Marshall (President of the UK‟s legendary Infectious Records), Jeff Craib (Senior Vice President of Canada‟s leading full service agency SL Feldman and Associates), Markus Kühn (Managing Director for Germany‟s iconic MotorFM) plus many more.

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Tackling issues such as the ever-evolving digital industry, the growth of the Asian and Pacific Rim markets, music and visual media plus contemporary publishing, MUSEXPO Asia Pacific is the forum for the leaders of the future. A full program of forums and keynotes will be available in the weeks ahead.

Joining the list of speakers in this third announcement are:
Julie Horton (USA – Executive Vice President, Realsongs), Mark Poston (Aust – Chairman, EMI Australasia), Paul Piticco (Aust – Founder/Director, Dew Process/Secret Service), Doug Banker (USA – Vice President, McGhee Entertainment), Surachai Sensri (Thailand – Managing Director, GMM international), Adarsh Gupta (India – Chief Operating Officer, Times Music), Peera Lucksanapirak (Thailand – Licensing and Publishing Manager, GMM international), Brett Cottle (Aust – CEO, APRA/AMCOS), George Negus (Aust – Founder, Negus Media International), Jason Bentley (USA – Music Director, KCRW), Jon Niermann (Singapore – President, EA Asia), Andrew Ing (Singapore – Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director, St James Holdings Ltd), Richard Kingsmill (Aust – Music Director, Triple J), Rob Graham (Thailand – Managing Director, Virgin Radio Thailand), Steve Knill (USA – President Music and Entertainment, Radiate), Vince Bannon (USA – VP Digital and Entertainment, Getty Images), Norman Parkhill (Aust – Director, Sandcastle Studios), Tom Zutaut (USA – band manager/consultant), Bruce Garfield (USA – President and Founder, Monster Management), Bill Cullen (Aust – Manager, One Louder Management), Richard Moffat (Aust – Founder, Way Over There), Andrea von Foerster (USA – Music Supervisor, Firestarter Music), Brian Nielsen (Denmark – CEO, Skandinavian Booking Management), Cassandra Gracey (UK – Manager, Crown Music), Craig Hawker (Aust – Vice President of A&R and Labels, EMI Australia), Mark Pope (Aust – Founder, Mark Pope Music and Events), Matthew Daniel (China – Vice President Strategy Development, R2G

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Media), Ritch Esra (USA – Publisher, Music Business Registry), Sudhir Shreedharan (India – Editor, Indian Music Talks) and Andrew Phillips (UK – media consultant).
See below for more information on each speaker. For full conference programs head to

As the live music component of the event, the One Movement Showcase Music Festival is unlike any festival the Southern Hemisphere has ever experienced with 80 artists playing unique 30-minute showcase sets, premiering their latest material to industry and fans alike in a full outdoor festival setting over two days at Perth Esplanade.

Tickets for the showcasing One Movement for Music Festival are on sale now.

Single day tickets are only $66 + booking fee or $99 + booking fee for the entire weekend – that’s 80 acts for $99 – and available from

Please note: all artists will be playing approximately 30 minutes sets, showcasing their latest material to the industry, media and fans alike.

The information is comprehensive and extensive ..

click here to access the PDF document

or visit these websites

Rina Ferris + Katie Hardwick
Ferris Davies PRM /
+61 (2) 9555 5807

Thailand Celebrate 09/09/09 by Paying Respect to the King, the Ninth Monarch of the Chakri Dynasty

Thailand is Celebrating 09/09/09 by Paying Homage to King Bhumipol Adululjadej, Thailand's

Monument to King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) ...Image via Wikipedia

Beloved King

As people all over the world celebrate 09/09/09 today, Thais spent the day paying respect to the King of Thailand, King Bhumiphol Adulyadej.

King Bhumiphol Adulyadej, who will be 82 years old in December, is the world's longest reigning monarch. He's also the ninth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty, auspicious for Thai people, so because of this, it's also why so many Thais were out in force on 09/09/09 to show how much they love their king.

All over Thailand, Thais went to temples, to office buildings, to parks, and even to small roadside shrines in many different parts of the country to make merit and pray for their king.The number '9' is also thought to be lucky in Thai culture, so Thai people think the day 09/09/09 will be an extremely lucky day for Thais and Thailand, but especially for their king.

That is why it was important for Thais to use the day to pay respect to the king and to pray he will reign forever. As one Thai woman named Malai said to me today, "Because our king is the ninth king and because the number nine is lucky, Thai people want to make sure the King knows we wish him good luck on this day, so that's why we go to the temple and pray for him or sing songs in his honor".

Thailand - Bangkok, Wat PhoImage by vtveen via Flickr

Another Thai woman then went on to tell me how she had left her house earlier than normal this morning and, on her way to work, had stopped off at a Bangkok temple to "make merit", burn some incense and pray that King Bhumiphol Adulyadej will always remain lucky.Many office buildings in Bangkok erected large photographs of the king for 09/09/09.

All framed in heavy yellow or gold frames (yellow is the color always used for King Bhumiphol as it is the color for Monday, the day the king was born), they show how much Thais love and respect their king. Today, people congregated in front of the photographs and left offerings of flowers, and employees came outside to stand in front of the them to pay their respects and to sing the king's song.
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Australia signs historic regional Free Trade Agreement

Australia signs historic regional Free Trade Agreement

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Minister for Trade Simon Crean joined Trade Ministers from the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and New Zealand in signing the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) in Hua Hin, Thailand.

This is the largest FTA Australia has ever signed and will reduce or eliminate tariffs across a region that is home to 600 million people and has an annual GDP of A$3.2 trillion.
Australia’s two-way trade with the ASEAN region is worth $80 billion a year. The agreement will deliver new opportunities across the board for Australian exporters.
“With this level of trade, which is bigger than our trade with Japan or China or the United States, this agreement with ASEAN has great potential to increase job opportunities for Australian workers,” Mr Crean said.

According to Austrade, there are around 18,500 Australian exporters doing business in ASEAN countries.
“I have asked Austrade to roll out a commercial strategy to take advantage of the market openings created by AANZFTA,” said Mr Crean.
“Trade barriers are coming down in the region. Our challenge to Australian business and exporters is to look to South East Asia to take advantage of the new opportunities.”
AANZFTA will bind current low tariffs and over time eliminate tariffs on between 90 and 100 per cent of tariff lines, covering 96 per cent of current Australian exports to the region.

These tariff reductions will put in place a guarantee against sudden tariff surges and are an effective barrier against protectionist moves in the midst of the present economic crisis.
“This is the first free trade agreement Australia has signed since the onset of the global financial crisis,” he said.

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“It powerfully demonstrates Australia’s - and the region’s - strong commitment to opening up markets in the face of this crisis. This will keep trade flows open in the region, increase growth, and give a much-needed boost to confidence,” Mr Crean said.

“This is an extremely strong signal to the rest of the world that the Asian region remains committed to pursuing economic growth, exports and jobs to help drive economic recovery.”
The FTA includes an economic cooperation component to provide technical assistance and capacity building to developing ASEAN countries to assist in implementation of the FTA.
“Australia regards this cooperation as an integral part of the FTA and I am pleased to announce that Australia will provide up to $20 million in funding for worthwhile capacity-building projects over a five year period,” Mr Crean said.
“Australia stands to gain from this agreement across many sectors, including exports of agricultural products, industrial goods and services.
“Australian primary producers are now being guaranteed greater access to developing South East Asian markets, many of which have a growing appetite for high quality Australian produce,” Mr Crean said.
The Minister for Trade said the Australian industrial sector had also been given an opportunity to expand exports into the ASEAN region.

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“The Australian pharmaceutical industry, which already exports $600 million worth of product each year to the region, will be operating in almost a completely free trade zone in ASEAN,” he said.

In the chemical sector, most higher tariffs will be eliminated. For electrical machinery, almost all tariffs will be eliminated in our major markets.
With the car industry, Mr Crean said there had been tough negotiations and Australia would eliminate tariffs for all ASEAN nations.
“But there will be slower phase-out arrangements for tariffs on vehicles manufactured in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand as Australia demanded reciprocal arrangements with those countries,” he said.
Mr Crean said some of these higher car tariff schedules could be addressed in bilateral FTAs.
“I am pleased to say the agreement will achieve very significant tariff cuts on automotive parts and components,” Mr Crean said.

Makers of automotive parts will now have greater opportunities to participate in automotive global supply chains.
“We have also secured a good outcome on services, increasing certainty for exporters in fields such as professional services, education, financial services and telecommunications as well as construction and mining services”, Mr Crean said.
On investments, AANZFTA will create greater certainty for Australian investors in the region with access to international arbitration extended to the whole region.
“I am proud of this agreement, as it represents a historic milestone for Australian trade negotiations,” Mr Crean said.

More information on the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free trade Agreement (AANZFTA).

Media Inquiries: Mr Crean's office 02 6277 7420 - Clinton Porteous 0403 369 588 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

THAILAND: Lese Majeste Law under seize by Human Rights Groups

BANGKOK, Aug 31 (IPS) - Thailand’s draconian lese majeste law is steadily emerging as a
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testing ground for the principles that renowned international human rights lobbies stand for.

The customary routes groups like the Amnesty International (AI) in London and the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) have pursued recently are similar. They have opted to remain silent – in public, at least – or offer tepid responses when the 100-year-old law is enforced.

Yet how long these twin leaders of the global
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human rights movement can get away with such silence has been brought into relief by a verdict delivered in a Thai court on Aug. 28. The Bangkok Criminal Court sentenced a political activist to 18 years in prison for a speech she delivered in public that the three-judge bench ruled had insulted this kingdom’s revered monarchy.

The 46-year-old Darunee Charnchoengsilpakul was found guilty of three violations of the lese majeste law, which threatens violators with a maximum of 15 years in jail for a single breach of tarnishing the image of the royal family.
Human RightsImage by h de c via Flickr

"The court finds she intended to insult and make threats to the king and the queen," one of the three judges said while reading the verdict.
This ruling against Darunee – also known as ‘Da Torpedo’ for her trademark fiery rhetoric – is the harshest delivered by the courts in recent times. It follows a 10-year-jail sentence given to another Thai national in April for violating the lese majeste law for an image posted on the Internet.

Darunee, a supporter of former Thai prime minister
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Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a September 2006 coup, was arrested in July and jailed after delivering a speech a few weeks earlier at a rally of pro-Thaksin supporters in Bangkok. Her efforts to be granted bail were denied.
AI broke its long silence on lese majeste when Darunee’s case began in June this year. It criticised the court for ordering a closed trial of the proceedings, which a judge on the bench justified as a "matter of national security."

But AI stayed clear of raising concerns if the law infringed on the right to freedom of expression. Public statements delivered earlier by HRW have also studiously avoided this fundamental right.

"We have felt that working in a more private capacity than in a public way is the most appropriate and the most effective response on the lese majeste issue to date," says Benjamin Zawacki, South-east Asia researcher for AI. "There is an implicit knowledge of the sensitivity of this law."

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"There are competing interests at stake; one is the right to freedom of expression. But you have an institution here that has played an important role in the protection of human rights in Thailand," Zawacki explained in an interview. "We can see why the monarchy needs to be protected."

The Bangkok-based Zawacki admitted, however, that the law has been abused. "The lese majeste law, as is currently applied in the last three years, has been used for the suppression of free speech for largely political purposes and not for the protection of the monarchy, for which the law was drafted," he says.

Even regional media rights groups admit that the law poses a quandary. "We have had to acknowledge that the lese majeste law is a very sensitive topic in Thailand," says Roby Alampay, executive director of the Bangkok-based South-east Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA). "There are groups that express caution and there are groups who are intimidated by how the law is wielded and enforced. It is intimidating even for human rights advocates."

Yet, given the chance SEAPA, which has displayed some courage by issuing statements in the wake of lese majeste cases, tries to close the gap on this front. "We have said that all defamation laws in general must be decriminalised; even the lese majeste law," Alampay told IPS. "This has been a consistent call."

Little wonder why the reluctance of leading human rights groups to lift the veil on what the lese majeste law implies in a developing democracy such as Thailand is under fire in some quarters.
"The international human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have done something that, in my opinion, were very small, light, mild, ineffective and careless," says Thongchai Winichakul, professor of South-east Asian studies at the U.S.-based University of Wisconsin-Madison. "They have been so lukewarm about the lese majeste issue in Thailand because they are primarily very bureaucratic."
Burma protest for junta to face  International...Image by totaloutnow via Flickr

"(This) is a crime of conscience, thought crime, crime of speaking," Thongchai, a Thai national who recently organised an international campaign for the reform of the lese majeste law, said in an interview. "If AI and HRW do not stand to defend the victims of these crimes, what do they stand for?"

Concerns about how the lese majeste law is being enforced in Thailand have grown in the wake of a spike in the number of complaints that have been filed with police. Currently, there are over 30 cases pending. Among those the police are investigating include cases against a former government spokesman who is an ally of Thaksin, a respected Buddhist philosopher, a leftist Thai academic who has fled the country and a political activist who refused to stand up during the royal anthem played ahead of all movie screenings at cinemas.

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In addition, the crime suppression division of the police recently admitted to foreign journalists that the information and technology ministry wants some 5,000 websites investigated for possible violation of the lese majeste law.

Earlier, the justice ministry revealed that over 10,000 websites were being monitored for comments that allegedly defamed the monarchy. The authorities have also reportedly invested 42.2 million baht (1.28 million U.S. dollars) to establish an Internet firewall to block websites that have anti-monarchy remarks.

The language in the current constitution is unequivocal in King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s standing in this South-east Asian kingdom. "The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action," the 2007 charter states.

The 81-year-old monarch has been on the throne for over 60 years.
This unique feature of the Thai culture may have also shaped the attitudes of human rights groups in responding to the lese majeste law, says David Streckfuss, author of ‘Modern Thai Monarchy and Cultural Politics’. "Many international human rights organisations have seemed to accept the uniqueness of Thai uniqueness and made an exception in Thailand for the lese majeste law."

"They seem to fall into the romance that certain aspects of Thai culture are untouchable," the U.S. national specialising in Thai politics told IPS. "It is possible this began as a strategy more than a decade ago when lese majeste cases were less prominent." (END/2009)


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Sunday, September 6, 2009

ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Thailand updated

ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is facilitating ASEAN to become a single market and a

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single production base making the region much more dynamic and stronger in the global supply chain, Thailand Trade Representative (TTR) President H.E. Mr. Kiat Sittheeamorn has observed.
Mr. Kiat was delivering his keynote address on “Thailand Trade Policy and Implication to AEC” at a seminar organized recently by the ASEAN Federation of Textile Industries (AFTEX) in cooperation with the National Federation of Thai Textile Industries and the Department of Export Promotion as part of the Bangkok International Fashion Fair and Bangkok International Leather Fair 2009 (BIFF & BIL 2009).

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Attending the seminar were Mr. Dej Pathanasethpong, Chairman of the National Federation of Thai Textile Industries; ASEAN Competitiveness Enhancement Project Director Mr. R.J. Gurley; Chief of Fashion Fair Division of Thailand Department of Export Promotion Mrs. Kalayanee Sirikul and other functionaries of the department and entrepreneurs from the ASEAN textile industry.

The Thai Trade Chief said ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) is one of the most aggressive organizations for regional cooperation among developing countries. In 2007 at the age of 40, ASEAN started thinking of ASEAN Charter that could serve as a road map to successful regional cooperation. The Charter eventually came into force in December 2008 changing ASEAN forever. By virtue of the new Charter and under the chairmanship of Thailand this year, ASEAN is now moving towards the ASEAN community fostering regional integration in all dimensions - political, economic, social and cultural.

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This forum provides the best opportunity for all business people in ASEAN countries to get together and discuss how to build the economic community for the first time. “We now have the mandate in the form of the Charter that the (ASEAN) governments would support. With the Charter, we will become more significant and will have larger role to play in the international arena. In the past, ASEAN nations would speak with 10 voices and possibly would take 10 different positions. Today, ASEAN is moving towards having one position and, I think, in the near future we will end up with one voice, vis-เ-vis the international community,” Mr. Kiat said.

By virtue of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), ASEAN is now becoming a single market and a single production base making the region much more dynamic and stronger in the global supply chain. Take a look at Latin Americans who have already set up their single market quite some time ago. They really managed to have their economic community set up within the region quite effectively and productively.
With the objective of elevating ASEAN into one single market and one single production base, the governments in ASEAN 10 have been providing for over 10 years various tools such as the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA which allows businessmen to invest in ASEAN 10 with ease of doing business with less or no difficulties. We have AICO (ASEAN Industrial Cooperation) which allows you to exploit the value chain of the production within ASEAN 10 so that you can look at where to set up your business or production facility and where it should be a part of the supply chain. AICO actually is aimed at promoting resource sharing that allows businessmen to maximize complementarity and the value chain.
Business people make investments, while governments get you the tools to be competitive, to be a single market and a truly economic community. The latest tool provided by the government was Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM). Although its purview is much broader than day-to-day business, it provides a fund base of USD 120 billion to ensure regional financial stability and protect businesses from currency fluctuations. With industrial cooperation within the 10 countries in place, you can maximize the benefit by using such tools effectively, he suggested.

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With these new tools, new Charter and new environment, traditional way of doing business is no longer feasible. A new business model must be explored and developed among ourselves. We now need to think regional and act global. We have to shift from domestic market focus to regional market focus. We have to change from single location of excellence to multiple centres of excellence maximizing value chain and complementarity, thereby making competitive advantage in the industry in ASEAN more sustainable in the long run, he opined.

In the past 10 years, governments of ASEAN have worked hard to reduce tariff and non-tariff trade barriers. And they have accomplished that, although there are still a lot of challenges to be addressed. But at least we are getting there. The competition has dramatically increased because of reduced barriers and non-quota systems. This means that ASEAN businesses are open to more competition from all over the world. Those who cannot adapt themselves to the new business model may not be successful in the long run, Mr. Kiat felt.

As for the textile industry, it has its own challenges. You really need to work hard and come up with new ideas of approach in doing business. “The new ideas that I am talking about are not about designing or the quality of textiles but about the business model and the relationships that you need to build between the businesses of this country and the ASEAN 10,” he said.
ASEAN is not just a standstill block. It is reaching out to have agreements with the Plus Three. It already has lot of agreements with the Plus Six, including Australia, New Zealand and India. The size of the market alone is half of the world population and at least one-third of the world trade is within this group, which alone will continue to be the fastest growing group in the next so many years. This means that the market is there, the opportunities are there, the tools are provided. The rest is up to the business sector to exploit them and to make it happen.

For the business people in ASEAN, going abroad, identifying business opportunities and negotiating with potential partners has been very difficult in the past 10-20 years. “But after 40 years of flirting, let’s get married and have children! It is now time for us to adjust our business plans, get into some serious relationship with our counterparts in the region and start setting up joint ventures or business agreements. Otherwise, you will not be able to catch up with the market when the economy is back to growth,” Mr. Kiat concluded.

Speaking on the occasion, ASEAN Federation of Textile Industries (AFTEX) Chairman Mr. Van Sou Ieng said in line with the objective of the ASEAN chambers of commerce and industry, AFTEX has been actively playing its part in regional integration promoting intra ASEAN trade, particularly in respect of the textile and apparels sector.

ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) grouping has paved the way for the integration of the government and the textile sector enhancing ASEAN as the borderless marketplace. Since July 2008, AFTEX has been implementing ASEAN Competitiveness Enhancement Project with the aim to build a stronger textile and apparels industry capable of competing with major players such as China, India and Bangladesh. The project is providing technical assistance in fostering the competitiveness of ASEAN supply chain, Mr. Sou Ieng added. For more information please contact
Tel. 02-642-9620