Speech by His Excellency Minister of Industry (Dr. Uttama Savanayana) “Role of Media and ASEAN”

Speech by

His Excellency Minister of Industry

(Dr. Uttama  Savanayana)

“Role of Media and ASEAN”

For Confederation of ASEAN Journalists

26 January 2018, 10.00-10.30 hrs.

Grand Ballroom, The Emerald Bangkok


Mr. Nguyen Huu Tuuan, President of Confederation of ASEAN Journalists

Khun Thepchai Yong, President of the Confederation of Thai Journalists

Journalist friends from ASEAN member countries

Very distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to participate in the general assembly of the Confederation of ASEAN Journalists (CAJ) today. First of all, on behalf of the Ministry of Industry and the Thai government, I would like to say “Welcome to Thailand” to all journalists and media from ASEAN countries and also from China, Japan and South Korea who are taking part in this event.

Today, I would like to first share with you my thoughts on
a number of factors that can have significant influence on how ASEAN navigates and grows in the fast-changing world we are in.  How ASEAN as a community can pool our efforts and resources.  And how the media, as one of the core pillars of the society can contribute and play a powerful and active role in these rapid developments.

Distinguished Guests,

ASEAN is at a crucial juncture.  Over the past 5 decades ASEAN’s strength has grown and ASEAN’s relevance on the world stage has been on the rise.  Today ASEAN has a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of US$2.7 trillion, an increase of more than 130 times comparing to the combined GDP 50 years ago. ASEAN is on the path to become a leading growth center of the world.

However, as we know, past success does not necessarily foretell future performance.  Nowadays, we are confronted with powerful changes, in particular, unstoppable technological advances which are often innovative and sometimes disruptive. Amid the volatility and complexity of today’s world; be it: changes in technology, or socio-economic and political shifts, the key question is how do we together take full advantage of ASEAN’s present global position? It is more and more urgent for us to figure out how to develop a viable path towards sustainable development and growth.

In my view, the answer lies fundamentally in the ASEAN’s ability to collaborate more closely, particularly on development strategies and key strategic initiatives.  I believe that there are three major forces that increasingly shape the world, especially, the global economy, and together these forces point to the necessity as well as unprecedented potential benefits of ASEAN collaboration.

The first is Connectivity. Connectivity is being driven by the digital revolution. From the age of industrialization to the era of the Internet, then to the dawn of the digital and information economy of today, it is “Connectivity Anywhere, Anytime, and increasingly for Anyone”, that spans all dimensions; social or economic.

Along with the fast expanding digital connectivity, there has also been massive upgrading of the physical infrastructure connectivity to create highly efficient and more integrated modes of transportation. As such, the digital and infrastructure connectivities are promoting fundamental changes in the ways people communicate, businesses interact, and public services being delivered, and last but not least, the role and nature of the media industry.

Super dynamic connectivity strongly fosters the second force, Collaboration. As a result of the rapid growth of connectivity, we now see a significant upsurge of collaboration in various forms and arenas. Big individual success stories become more rare. These days, most success stories come when people collaborate through the sharing of ideas and information to combine expertise that spurs innovation, creation, and new opportunities. In the international arena, focused bilateral and regional arrangements, mostly economic in nature, are again on the rise to capitalize on emerging opportunities and to leverage collaborative strengths of nations in multiple dimensions.

In conjunction with Connectivity and Collaboration, it is Competition.  The nature of competition has drastically changed. The new competition is cutting across sectors and transcending geographical boundaries.  Competition is natural and necessary for maintaining vitality. But more than ever, people are willing and prepared to compete and collaborate at the same time. Such is the new nature of “Competition” that prevails today, and I believe that given the tradition and nature of ASEAN, we ASEAN members are well positioned to leverage these forces to create lasting shared benefits.

Therefore overall, through collaboration, we in ASEAN and together with our friends, should aim to promote and support people to connect, create, and innovate, as these are the key drivers that will not only help us overcome critical problems of poverty, inequality and access to opportunities among others, that face many of us, and Thailand is no exception, but will also allow us to sustain inclusive growth and progress.

Ladies and gentlemen

Let me share with you briefly on how Thailand is managing our way through the fast changing world.  No different from ASEAN member countries, Thailand also faces similar opportunities any challenges. And as much as we would like to keep strategy and development plan that have guided us in the past, we realized that
we must change if we want to be relevant not just today but also tomorrow.  Thailand is at a pivotal point in our national development, and we have a clear vision of where we want to go and how we intend to get there.

Central to our vision are stability, prosperity and sustainability. We have launch “Thailand 4.0”, a holistic roadmap to guide the transformation of the Thai economy towards a value-based, innovation-driven economy. Our fundamental goal is to put in platforms to achieve long-term sustainable growth that is inclusive for all stakeholders, local and international.

Thailand 4.0 contains inter-related strategic thrusts. Allow me to highlight the fundamental ones that offer dynamic opportunities for collaboration at both them, local and international levels.

1)     The massive upgrading of Thailand’s Infrastructure. Currently under construction are extensive networks of urban mass transit, new high speed and dual-tracks train lines, connecting destinations in Thailand and also those in our neighbor countries and beyond.  A new, expanded high performance internet network to cover the whole of Thailand will be completes this year so we can embrace the age of the digital and information economy and participate in the fast-increasing global connectivity.

2)     The development of new core technologies and innovative industries. Thailand has identified priority industries to be developed. Together they will be our new engines of sustainable growth and lead the industrial transformation. Existing priority industries such as automotive, electronics, and agriculture are being upgraded and their core competencies enhanced.  New industries of high value-adds such as robotic and aviation industries are being developed.

3)     Human Capital Development.  Relevant skill sets necessary need to be developed innovatively. For example, we aim to accurate vocational education and training by promoting closer linkage between the industrial sector and the education sector to spur synergy for creativity and innovation. Of course, international collaboration is very crucial to human capital development that is equipped with next-generation skillset.

Ladies and Gentlemen

4)     To ensure that growth is not only sustained but also inclusive. Thailand 4.0 gives a top priority to area-based development initiatives. These initiatives take a holistic approach to social, economic, and human capital development. Leading our effort is the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), a new massive growth hub with combined area of 13,000 square-kilometers in 3 eastern provinces that have served as Thailand leading industrial and transport base.  Strategically located on Thailand’s eastern seaboard, the EEC is designed to serve not only Thailand but ASEAN, both within ASEAN member countries and between ASEAN and other regions as well. The investment in the EEC is expected to reach US$ 18 billion over the next five years, fueled by stimulus measures and infrastructure projects. This year, government will move forward with 5 key infrastructure projects will be launched in the EEC, including a US$ 6-billion high-speed train to connect three airports (Don Muang, Suvannabhumi, and U-Tapao Airports), a US$4.7 billion upgrading U-Tapao Airport, the expansion of Laem Chabang and Map Ta Phut deep sea ports and the aviation maintenance, repair and operations hub (MRO) with operation expected to begin in 2021.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Not only Thailand, but other ASEAN member countries have formulated their own vision and strategy to cope with the rapid changes and advanced technology and subsequently, enhance their country growth.  To maximize the impact of national strategies,  I am convinced that  it is important for both the public and private sectors of ASEAN to collaborate and leverage our internal strengths at this very opportune time.

With connectivity and collaboration that I have mentioned, we can extend those development to the regional level.  Apart from the digital connectivity, there should be a massive upgrading on physical infrastructure, including modern means and mode of transportation, land, air, and sea, to link all kinds of transportation throughout ASEAN. As an example of an imminent and powerful transformation, the digital and physical infrastructure connectivity together, are instrumental in transforming the traditional productive value chains to the digital value chains in all sectors manufacturing to all types of services.  Linking international value chains requires crucially collaborative efforts to construct a high performance ASEAN-WIDE digital ecosystem with advanced data capturing and analytics capability to promote and support high value adds synergies.  It is not really a question of “When” but “How” we should get strategically organized to work on these dynamic initiatives.

Perhaps most importantly, it is critical for ASEAN to collaborate on human resource development in keeping pace with the rapid changes of technologies.  Specifically, ASEAN human capital needs to be able to effectively sustain and spur creativity, innovation, and productivity-centric activities. This intrinsically means the promotion of productive entrepreneurship of all kinds. Furthermore, Human capital must continually develop key skillsets necessary not only for today but also for the next-generation tasks that will drive growth.  For instance, the digital capability, technical knowledge, effective human interaction and the ability to work in a collaborative environment.

Distinguished guests,

Allow me to share my thought on the media industry as ASEAN moves forward.  Due to new developments and changes in technology, either innovative or disruptive, the media are also faced with opportunities and challenges. As we all witness, the forces of social, technological and economic changes are drastically transforming the media industry in many ways.  The public itself are evolving from being just the passive receiver of content to become the active creator and direct broadcaster of content themselves.  People can create and access content and share it with the world virtually at any time and place. There are a growing number of dynamic platforms which open the opportunity to people to connect to express themselves share opinions and thoughts on virtually limitless issues.