Saturday, December 16, 2017
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Inefficiency and resistance to change in the state enterprise sector have long been notorious. The latest case in point is the mandated restructuring of TOT and CAT Telecom.

Both units have been hit hard by rapid changes in the telecom sector over the past few decades, making it necessary for them to embrace drastic changes. But some 15,000 employees at TOT and another 6,000 workers at CAT Telecom are reluctant to fall in line.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha threatened to take strong action against those opposed to the changes as ordered by the State Enterprise Policy Committee or Superboard, after union leaders and some executives did not cooperate with the Superboard mandate.

Basically, TOT and CAT Telecom have to merge their network operations to stay competitive within the next year, meaning transmission and fibre-optic sub-units will be combined as a new unit, the National Broadband Network Co, while their Internet gateway and submarine cable networks will be merged as Neutral Gateway Network Co.

Last but not least, the separate data centre operations will be merged as IDC Co.

However, TOT’s and CAT Telecom’s service units will remain separate operations as holding companies.

Employee unions and some senior executives have voiced their strong opposition to the drastic restructuring mandate.

Unless the two agencies are quickly reorganised, they will be heading for bankruptcy. TOT is especially vulnerable, as its revenues have dropped sharply as lucrative earnings from previous telecom concessions are coming to an end. The company has 15,000 workers.

Both agencies enjoyed an easy time for decades as the recipients of billions of baht in concession fees and shared revenues from privately-owned telecom companies which introduced mobile phone services to Thailand.

Now, their future depends on the competencies of management and workers in the highly-competitive technology-driven marketplace.

The combined assets of transmission and fibre optics are highly valuable as they are the core of the country’s national broadband network, which has the potential to take advantage of the fast-growing demand for telecom and digital services.

They are also highly prized by Internet gateway and data centre operations and could be leveraged to gain from the country’s rapidly-evolving digital economy.

Most TOT and CAT employees have little reason to fear for their future under the restructuring.

Gone, however, are the days of the easygoing work culture of state-owned agencies as these transformed units and their leadership need to adopt a more private-sector-like management style and mentality to stay relevant in the digital era.

Thailand Post is a good example of such a successful transformation. Previously, it was part of the Communications Authority of Thailand or CAT. Now, it is a competitive and a highly-profitable operator in the fast-growing e-commerce sector.

In the first half of 2015, Thailand Post reported profits of Bt1.3 billion on revenues of about Bt11 billion, with parcel delivery services accounting for nearly half of total revenues.

The company seems destined to enjoy high growth along the path of a sustained e-commerce boom in coming years.

TOT and CAT Telecom also have similar potential and they need to look at Thailand Post as an inspiration for change and renewed prosperity.

Prayut woos Russia at Moscow business forum

Posted by pakin On May - 19 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha told the Thai-Russia Business Dialogue in Moscow yesterday that his government aimed to boost trade five-fold with Russia in the next five years and it wanted to boost economic cooperation.

Last year, the value of bilateral trade between the two countries stood at just US$2.3 billion (Bt81.87 billion) and there is a lot of room for cooperation to increase the volume of trade, he said, noting that this business dialogue was also a good opportunity to discuss more investment opportunities.

Prayut, who went to Russia on Tuesday and will return tomorrow, is there to cement bilateral ties as well as attend a special Asean-Russia summit. He met with his counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in St Petersburg yesterday and is scheduled to call on President Vladimir Putin in Sochi today.

Prayut had earlier said that his government was interested in cooperating with Russia in the defence sector and would purchase some military hardware such as helicopters from the country.

He also told the business forum that his government had tried to fix internal problems, ease the national divide as well as boost ties with countries in the region and outside.

“Thailand is moving towards a perfect democracy and good governance, and it will be developed to catch up with the rapidly changing global environment,” Prayut said.

The Thai economy is only expected to grow by 3 to 3.5 per cent this year, with the growth mostly generated by domestic consumption, tourism and government spending, he said.

He added that his government was trying to introduce reforms so as to make way for sustainable development and invited Russian businesses to seek opportunities in the Kingdom. He also said that Thailand could become a regional hub for Russian business in the Asean region.

Meechai skips meeting with Prayut over charter

Posted by pakin On March - 9 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

CDC chairman worried about ‘binding obligation’ as draft revisions discussed proposal on appointed senators not on agenda at meeting of core state agencies.

AMID mounting pressure from opponents of the draft constitution, the chief drafter failed yesterday to attend a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, saying he was concerned he might be given a “binding obligation” in regard to the charter.

But Meechai Ruchupan, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), denied that he was afraid of being given “orders” from people in power in regard to revisions for the draft.

He said the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) could instruct the drafters but that the CDC would decide whether to follow orders. “We will carefully consider the reasons and details,” he said.

Meechai had been scheduled to meet senior representatives from the so-called “Five Rivers” core government bodies – the NCPO, the CDC, the Cabinet, the National Legislative Assembly and the National Reform Steering Assembly.

Other representatives from the CDC attended the meeting yesterday afternoon, which took place at Government House. Prayut, who also heads the NCPO, chaired the meeting

No media were allowed to attend.

Meechai said yesterday the drafters had not yet considered a proposal by the Cabinet that senators should be appointed instead of being indirectly elected by representatives of 20 occupations, as the initial charter draft had stipulated.

Some analysts have said an unelected but powerful Senate, if included in the charter as suggested by the government, would be a decisive factor in convincing people to reject the draft in the upcoming referendum.

Before yesterday’s meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said his suggestion for appointing senators during the transitional period was just a personal opinion, adding that it would depend on the CDC’s decision whether to include the provision in the new constitution.

The head drafter said yesterday that the issue would be clarified soon. He urged the media not to speculate on the matter to avoid confusion.

Drafters ‘still firm on senators’

“Don’t guess about this. Regarding senators, the CDC is still firm with what is written in the first draft,” Meechai said.

He added, however, that the drafters would be “pleased” to consider any resolutions that were raised in yesterday’s meeting. “If the proposal goes against the CDC’s original principle, we will have to consider the reasons,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, speaking after the meeting, said the participants had not discussed the proposal about appointed senators. He reiterated that Prawit had admitted the idea was his personal view.

Wissanu, who is in charge of the government’s legal affairs, said yesterday’s meeting discussed the national referendum on the draft constitution in detail.

Regarding Meechai’s absence from the meeting, Wissanu said the meeting was called on short notice and that no formal invitation had been issued. He said Meechai was busy attending a CDC meeting at Parliament and therefore could not attend the gathering at Government House.

The CDC has until March 23 to complete revisions of the charter draft. The final draft will be subject to a national referendum tentatively scheduled for the end of July.

Meanwhile, CDC member Atchaporn Jarujinda yesterday dismissed a press report saying that the drafters had revised their first draft to require that future prime ministers be affiliated with political parties. He said the drafters had discussed the possibility but that no such revision had been made.

Unlike previous constitutions, the initial draft of the new charter would not require that a prime minister be an elected member of Parliament.

At yesterday’s meeting, the prime minister insisted that a general election would definitely be held next year. He also maintained that the junta would not attempt to stay on in power, according to a source.

General Prayut said there should be assurance for the Thai people that the sort of problems that occurred prior to the coup won’t reoccur after the next election, according to the source.

The PM said that the government’s national strategies should not be a cause for concern for the next administration. He explained that they set concrete goals for the country in key areas, such as education.

He also urged the core agencies to expedite their work because their time in office was running out, the source said.

PM says ‘sorry’ for latest flare-up at reporters

Posted by pakin On February - 11 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha gave an cold shoulder to a troop of reporters at Government House as he arrived for a meeting yesterday.

Before attending the annual internal security meeting in the morning, he encountered the reporters, who greeted him a “wai” of respect. Prayut returned the gesture, but remained silent and stony-faced before walking past them to the meeting room.

The Premier later told the meeting that people may or may not understand his recent bouts of anger, but he had been trying his best to curb his emotional expressions.

“Soldiers are hot tempered, but once addressed, we are always ready to improve [our responses],” he said.

PM Prayut has lost his temper in public while giving press interviews on a number of occasions, and last Tuesday’s outburst exceeded the level of his previous anger.

He later apologised for losing his temper and scolding journalists through his spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd, who said the premier was under pressure as he had been left to “walk alone”.

“The prime minister asked me to convey to media and [others] that he regretted his outburst on Tuesday,” Sansern said. He was also worried [about public sentiment], but we should understand that he is working under pressure due to high expectations of the people.”

One of the prime minister’s New Year resolutions was to try to be a “good guy” – at least in the eyes of the mass media – by avoiding hot-tempered exchanges with critical reporters.

That resolution appeared to have been broken when the PM – described by reporters as “furious” – was asked about the draft charter and the election road map at Tuesday’s press briefing.

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