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Asean chief warns firms of labour shortage

Posted by arnon_k On March - 10 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

The Asean secretary-general is worried about a shortage of Myanmar labourers in Thailand after the launch of the Asean Economic Community in 2015.

Surin Pitsuwan said Myanmar would probably take back its labourers working in neighbouring countries, particularly Thailand, to work in its three new economic zones.

“A lot of Thai businesses that have relied heavily on Myanmar labourers could be in trouble,” he said.

Mr Surin was speaking yesterday to staff of the Administrative Court about the AEC situation and the changes in Thailand.

He called on Thai factories to focus on upgrading to modern technologies to help develop their businesses so they will not face difficulties if they do not have Myanmar labourers working for them.

Mr Surin also urged Thai business operators, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, to expand their businesses into other Asean countries before the start of the economic community.

He said the government must play a greater role in backing these business operators to invest in other Asean countries. Under the AEC they could take advantage of tax-free offers, cheap labour and natural resources.

“We must develop our Thai people and change their mindset as it is not enough to compete only against one another in Thailand,” Mr Surin said.

He said an emerging phenomenon happening in several Asean countries is the merger of businesses. Operators in the region cannot expect to run their businesses only in their home towns but should expand to other countries.

The AEC, which will be effective within three years, will make intra-Asean business mergers inevitable as operators need to survive, he said.

Mr Surin said he wanted to see a new generation of Thai people know how to seek business opportunities in other Asean markets.

He said he had discussed this matter with the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Thai Industries Association.

He said Asean people now have more purchasing power but need a better quality of life, safety and consumption.

Last year, investment capital in Asean totalled about US$80 billion, of which 70% poured into the service sector in areas such as logistics, intercommunication, education, health, tourism and entertainment.

Asean puts water on agenda

Posted by arnon_k On November - 16 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Asean leaders are expected to beef up regional cooperation in water resources management aimed at preventing severe flooding that threatens the lives of its citizens and damages national and regional economies.

They are set to issue a statement entitled “Cooperation on Flood Prevention, Mitigation, Relief, Recovery and Rehabilitation” on the eve of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s first attendance at the Asean Summit.

Regional leaders are expected to boost cooperation on disaster risk management and mitigation by sharing best practices in water resources management.

The statement is expected to note that severe flooding affects agricultural production and regional food security as well as regional and global industrial supply chains. Asean will also aim to boost post-crisis relief, recovery and rehabilitation as well as improve the effectiveness of coordination efforts.

Leaders are also expected to agree that the role of the Asean secretary-general, in his capacity as Asean Human Assistance Coordinator, be enhanced to ensure the sustainability of the AHA Centre in boosting cooperation among members and dialogue partners in disaster management.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce new support for the Philippines and flood-hit Thailand as she shores up ties with key US allies, officials said yesterday.

Mrs Clinton was due to arrive in the Philippines yesterday and will head later this week to Thailand, part of a renewed US focus on Asia. President Barack Obama is travelling separately to Australia, another long-time ally in the region.

A State Department official said Mrs Clinton would offer a “very substantial” aid package to Thailand and hoped to reach out to the public in America’s oldest Asian ally.

“One of the messages that the secretary will bring directly to the Thai people and the government is that we believe it is in the national security and political interest of the United States to have this government succeed,” the official was quoted as saying.

“We will do what we can to support that going forward. There are substantial tensions in Thailand and those tensions will not be resolved after one or even a few elections.”

Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama will head later this week to Bali for an East Asia Summit, hoping to show a strong US commitment to a forum where several Asian countries had initially sought to exclude the US.

Asean experts call for more relief boats

Posted by arnon_k On October - 20 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Boats are the most-needed items in the flood relief effort, says a team of Asean experts.

The team has spent the past three days touring flood-hit areas and observing relief operations.

They say the speed with which the boats are delivered will be a key to managing the crisis.

The eight-member Emergency Rapid Assessment Team (Erat) led by Singaporean David Chow said they recommended the Asean bloc supplies 500 boats, among other items.

The observation tour included a trip to Suphan Buri and Pathum Thani as well as the Don Mueang-based flood relief operations centre.

“Medical supplies, water purifiers, food, mobile toilets and sleeping pads are needed, but boats are the most important to move people around and for search and rescue operations,” said Mr Chow.

Formed as a response to Cyclone Nargis in Burma in 2008 because the junta did not allow the United Nations to assess the damage, Erat has worked in Burma twice and in Indonesia’s Mentawai Island after it was hit by a tsunami this year. The Thai flood crisis is their fourth operation.

Arun Pinta, a planning and policy analyst on the team, said it is trying to develop guidelines and procedures for its work in Asean countries.

It was up to the host country whether it decided to follow the team’s recommendations.

“We are here to support the government and whether or how our recommendations are executed depends largely on how Asean members respond to our reports,” he said.

The team’s report would try to be precise, down to the specification of the boats needed.

“The supplies do not necessarily have to come from Asean countries,” he said.

Surapong will listen to criticism

Posted by arnon_k On August - 10 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Newly appointed Foreign Minister Surapong Towijakchaikul on Wednesday admitted he is new to the job but said he will perform his duty to the best of his ability.

He said he was ready to listen to criticism and advice, especially from ministry officials, and learn from it.

Mr Surapong said his priorities were improve international relations, be prepared for Asean and Apec meetings, rebuild the country’s image and create confidence in Thailand among the international community to encourage tourism.

Particular importance would be attached to relations with countries in the Middle East, he said.

Asked about the possibility of re-issuing passports for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Mr Surapong said he would first see how they had been issued and then revoked.

Mr Surapong was earlier tipped for the post of information and communication technology minister, but was switched to the foreign affairs portfolio – reportedly because Thaksin could not find an outsider for the post.

The new foreign minister is known to be regarded highly by Thaksin who, having been convicted of absuing his authority while prime minister, has been denied entry by many countries.