Competitiveness: UC Brekley says SE Asia Competitiveness Depends on Safety Nets & so Was Thaksin Right After All?

UC Berkley says take care of labor, and competitiveness increases
UC Berkley says take care of labor, and competitiveness increases. Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) says social safety nets like the ones from Thaksin, turns labor into lazy slaves of the state.


Comment by Terry/Tavivoot

As a neutral oberver, you make the final call on this one. I will just give you the run-down on the situation.

The Run-down

The global craz by businesses to rationalize their human resource stack, and governments to rationalize their spending-has both resulted in great pressure against labor.

The argument of most, in business or governments-is that scarce resources must go towards enhancement of competitiveness. In this way, everyone benefit.

Enhancement of competitiveness, by nearly all accounts means less emphasis on social safety nets-by either businesses or the governments.

UC Berkley Institute of South East Asian Study is going the other way and is recommending a book that concludes that social safety nets-are in fact critical to a country’s competitiveness.

The Thai Implication

The implication for Thailand, based on the book, is clear-Thai businesses must take better care of its people, and the government must focus on putting in place “sustainable” social safety nets-not the hit and run type like giving everyone, needy or not needy, a bunch of money once or twice and then leave it at that.

Thailand’s own Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) had been for years advocating against Thaisin’s populus policies-which are some 70-80% about social safety net-as being harmful to Thailand because it will turn labor into a slave of the state-instead of maximizing their skill based on survial needs.

As a neutral observer, I can see TDRI’s point and agree that there is a danger of  that. So as a neutral observer, I will leave my readers to decide for themselves if UC Berkley is right on this one.

But my advice to people at places like TDRI is, you better get this book and read it-because people like me are confused what you are thinking for going after Thaksin but leaving Abisit to do as he please.

I mean don’t let people like me start believing that it is all politics there at TDRI-like who can forget the nearly daily blasting away at Thaksin by TDRI.

And my advice to the Abisit government is, “Cut the crap like handing out money for votes and start thinking about putting in a sustainable-better than Thaksin-social safety net system.” That is, if the Abisit government agrees with UC Berkley.

 The Book from UC Berkley

Book made availble through UC Berkley Institute of South East Asia Study

Southeast Asia in the Global Economy: Securing Competitiveness and Social Protection

Helen E S Nesadurai, J Soedradjad Djiwandono, editors

2009 259 pages

ISBN 978-981-230-823-8  S$59.90/US$49.90 

About the Publication

While economic globalization benefited Southeast Asia, especially during the 1990s boom, the region now seems to be caught between two emerging economic giants – China and India. What challenges and opportunities does the rise of China and India pose for Southeast Asia and how should policy-makers respond?

Are bilateral free trade arrangements and bilateral economic partnerships a boon or bane for competitiveness? In identifying approaches and strategies to coping with these challenges and leveraging on the opportunities available, this book also links the quest for competitiveness with the necessity of social protection.

The link comes in the form of the people who work for firms as human resources, and as users and innovators of technology. The book acknowledges and discusses the problems of inadequate technological and innovative capacity and the problems of managing labour productivity in Southeast Asia.

However, the book also cautions against focusing on people solely as productive labour, whether in production or the knowledge sector. By highlighting the adverse social, economic and political consequences of ignoring social protection issues and challenging the myth that addressing social protection undermines competitiveness, the book emphasizes the social responsibilities incumbent on governments and firms in this age of growing economic insecurities.


Southeast Asia in the Global Economy: Securing Competitiveness and Social Protection 

Preliminary pages 

Introduction: Southeast Asia in the Global Economy 



2. ASEAN and India: Exploring Complementarities 

3. ASEAN and China: Managing Competition and Exploring Complementarities 



4. Bilateral Economic Arrangements in the Asia-Pacific: Implications for Competitiveness 

5. Technological Intensities and Network Strength: Electronics Firms in East Asia and Southeast Asia Compared 

6. Managing Labour for Competitiveness in Southeast Asia 



7. Labour Regulations in Southeast Asia: Boon or Bane for Competitiveness? 

8. Social Security Policy in an Era of Globalization: Challenges for Southeast Asia 

9. Corporate Social Responsibility in Southeast Asia 



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