Economics: Thailand’s Creative Economy big hype & as it stands today

Siamese cats, please get your creative juice going

By Pooky, this blog economics journalist

  • Intelligence: 100,000s of SMEs on the verge of collapse from AFTA

Analysis: In most economies, the key sources for innovation and creativity comes from SMEs sector, however, major Thai press reports 100,000s of Thai SMEs continues to be on the verge of collapse as ASEAN free trade area opens up Thailand to competition. Bottom-line: Talents and creativity may be wiped out.

  • Intelligence: Research found Thai firms shuns creativity

Analysis: Grant and Thornton did an ASEAN wide research and found that Thai firms shun creativity as the way to deal with the global slowdown but have turned to cost cutting are reorganization. The firm found most other ASEAN countries turned to creativity. Bottom-line: Creative economy concept making little real penetration.

  • Intelligence: Wide availability and inexpensive 3G years away

Analysis: 3G objective is simply the ability to use mobile phone to transfer lots of data, at high speed at a cheap cost. However, many Thai press are reporting that for a variety of factors, achieving that objective is years away in Thailand. Bottom-line: Other ASEAN countries are way ahead of Thailand.

  • Intelligence: Research funds dry-up at Thai colleges

Analysis: A large funding from the Strong Thailand Stimulus that was earmarked for colleges to use in research and development have been axed. Bottom-line: No real commitment to R&D.

  • Intelligence: Board of Investment pushes creative economy and high-tech investments

Analysis: The Thai BOI is placing emphasis on attracting investment in the creative and high-tech sectors. However, thus far, most of the investments are for the high-tech sector. Meanwile, local press reports lower level high-tech are moving out of Thailand to other ASEAN countries hurting the eco-system. Bottom-line: Vietnam is stressing its entire high-tech eco-system as a package.

  • Intelligence: Foreign studios shuns Thailand

Analysis: Thai creative studios of all types have been complaining that foreign clients have all but dried up as a result of political unrest hurting scheduling, and other ASEAN countries competition. Film festival corruption did not help. Bottom-line: Singapore and Indonesia are pressing hard in these sectors, as several high profile projects missed deadline in Thailand because of political unrest.

  • Intelligence: ICT master plans calls for governance

Analysis: The newest Thai ICT sector developmental master plan, that have been on the drawing board for years, have finally been concluded and calls for stressing governance in the ICT sector, along with increasing the numbers of Thai graduates with ICT related degrees. Vietnam’s ICT master plan, drawn-up by Japanese and American help, attracting massive investment from Japan and America. Bottom-line: Thailand is producing ICT and related graduates at about a third of what Vietnam is producing, and on governance, the ICT Ministry breaks the law regularly on internet crack-down.

  • Intelligence: Community ICT centers must have US FCC standard

Analysis: A debate is raging in the bidding for equipment for about 600 community ICT centers of why the standard calls for US FCC approved standards. Bottom-line: Many Thai suppliers are outraged of being shut-out.

  • Intelligence: 150,000 computers for schools buffeted by corruption

Analysis: The Thai government is up-grading the ICT infrastructure for the entire Thai education system, however, corruption is buffeting the purchase. Bottom-line: What is new with Thailand?

  • Intelligence: Vietnam and Philippine high speed internet surpasses Thailand on all fronts

Analysis: The numbers and speed of broad-band usage in the entire ASEAN region have out-paced Thailand. Bottom-line: Thai ICT Ministry spends most of its time policing the internet and not developing it.

  • Intelligence: NECTEC and SIPA in turmoil

Analysis: Turf battle buffeted the NECTEC, unit that helps spurs Thai ICT, development, and SIPA, a unit that develops software. Part of a wider conflict between MInistry of Science and ICT Ministry. Bottom-line: A deep and severe turf battle by many people from many units have buffeted NECTEC and SIPA for years now, with no end in sight-to the point that most Thai ICT related associations have criticized NECTEC and SIPA performances.

  • Intelligence: SIPA’s reverse brain-drain looses traction

Analysis: The highly successful push that yielded significant results have lost much of its luster as Thai political turmoil creates negative environment for Thailand. Bottom-line: Another great policy derailed by political turmoil.

  • Intelligence: Multi-media access mode gets same bidding conditions

Analysis: Accusations of corruption in bidding condition rigging saw the bidding canceled and a new one called for, however the condition of the biding remained the same. Bottom-line: Thailand is ranked as one of the most corrupted country globally.

  • Intelligence: HP says ICT supply sales up 20% and price up 10% in 2010

Analysis Hewlett Packard says Thai ICT equipment spending is heading up in 2010, mostly from government and education related spending-with the private business sector, gradually picking-up. Bottom-line: Price increase targets at government sector, but at consumers level a price increase may delay spending, since spending continues to be weak.

  • Intelligence: ICT Ministry “Sniffer” spread fear to internet users

Analysis: Sniffers, in the ICT context, are simply units that can see anything that goes on the internet, such as e-mail, and thus the Thai internet community is outraged since Thailand’s current government is hell-bent on cracking down on anything deem harmful to national security. Bottom-line: What is new at the ICT Ministry?

  • Intelligence: ACER dumps price for Net-Book

Analysis: ACER, the computer maker, is dumping the price of Net-book, down about 30%, saying it plans to take away markets from note-books. Wi-Fi hot-spot going up, but telecoms industry-wide and government push on hot-spot missing. Bottom-line: Net-book squeezed between mobile phones and more functionality lap-top.

  • Intelligence: Telecoms concession conversion starves investments

Analysis: The private telecoms sector are in negotiation with the Thai government to transform its concessions, however, private operator, says the new concessions methodology will starve investments away as it favors the state massively too much. Bottom-line: Nationalism fervor left over from the anti-Taksin government days.

  • Intelligence: Thailand’s 6th satellite in quagmire

Analysis: The launch of Thailand 6th satellite is caught in a web of difficulty and the latest is that the Thai government legal department will have to make a ruling. After the ruling, comes negotiations with the government. Bottom-line: The bottom-line is the real bottom-line, as the Thai government squeezed for the maximum return.

  • Intelligence: Thai agricultural and food industry loosing competitiveness

Analysis: Local press reports that ASEAN competitors to Thailand agricultural and food industry, where know-how increasingly plays an important part, are fast raising their competitiveness and with cheaper production costs and liberal investment policies, are attracting more investments than Thailand. Bottom-line: Cheaper raw material and access to technology by Thai competitors, results in Thai competitiveness being challenge.

  • Intelligence: Ministry of Science opens a science park at Amata industrial park

Analysis: Thai press says the location is not on neutral territory and will not galvanize broad interest. Bottom-line: Questionable move from an effective point of view.

  • Intelligence: Traditional media self-destruct

Analysis: Un-competitive platforms are being hurt further by censorship and political play. Cable TV for example, research found that outside Bangkok it is 50%-50% split with free TV and in print, Bangkok Post readership fell 20% in 2009. Bottom-line: New media growing.

  • Intelligence: Intellectual rights violation deep-rooted

Analysis: Significant legal structure to ensure intelligentsia rights integrity had been put in place, however “Enforcement” is in-consistency and not priority. Bottom-line: Corruption is ingrained in the Thai culture.

  • Intelligence: Foreign labor learning critical skills

Analysis: Local press reports foreign labors in Thailand are learning higher and higher level of critical skills and know-how from Thai operators who can not find Thais to fill the positions. Bottom-line: Thai population aging fast and when the country these laborers are from becomes favorable for work, Thailand may face severe difficulties.

  • Intelligence: Thailand stress ASEAN-wide ICT eco-system

Analysis: Thailand sees itself fast losing on the creative economy concept, and thus Thailand is tying Thailand’s prospect to ASEAN-wide development. ASEAN recently held a meeting on the subject of creative economy, particularly on ICT, and all agreed for an ASEAN-wide eco-system. Bottom-line: Positive development and Thailand should be able to piggy-back for some attention.

  • Intelligence: Thailand bundles ICT development clusters with tourism centers

Analysis: Thailand is putting up ICT incubators clusters near popular tourist centers to afford foreign firms creative people a quality and attractive lifestyles. Bottom-line: Positive development by SIPA, the unit that focuses on software and incubating ICT R&D, yet local press have not reported on the level of success of the strategy.

  • Intelligence: Thai venture capital for incubation failing

Analysis: Several cutting edge products produced by Thai incubators have been bought-up by foreign investors, hurting the entire Thai funding eco-system for incubators. And universities level incubating lacks cohesive policy. Bottom-line: Thai stock market listing is still too prohibitive to risk taking for incubators and universities are incubating far too few ideas.

  • Intelligence: Education, tourism and health hub strongly pushed by Thailand

Analysis: Thailand is pushing hard into the being the global hub for education, tourism and health. However, the strategy is based on “Value” with only pockets of “Quality.” Bottom-line: Foundation is there to move up the chain, as the AIDS vaccine proves, however, little policy focus and attention is being made system wide.

Overall Assessment:

  • The Thais are fundamentally creative people, as for century it was the cross-road between the East and West, in this part of geography. Yet this is 2010 in history, where physical geography plays a lesser critical role, and Thailand faces severe wider socio-culture decision-between Democracy and Freedom, or the class system of the Amart. That question has resulted in namely inconsistencies that hurt “Critical Mass” building on a creative economy.
  • The most critical mistake, that the above mentioned intelligence, did not touched, is that high IQ and highly creative people are a scarce resource.The Thai population is about 60 million and attracting cutting edge talents from Global level, is not a policy push and even if it were, the Thai environment is not competitive. The current class system in Thailand, is failing to identify local talents and accord them with appropriate risk taking opportunity.
  • The environment in Thailand currently, in fact, is a “Negative Drag” on creativity. As Thailand’s most advance university indicates, most Thai academic continues to support totalitarianism. Even at the corporate level, such as at the CP group with massive knowledge based businesses, such as Cable TV, mobile phones, and internet activity-still practices blatant censorship and propaganda.

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