Thai Society in Preparation for the ASEAN Community (27/04/2012)
Several plans are being worked out and studies are being undertaken to prepare Thai society for the realization of the ASEAN Community in 2015.

Deputy Government Spokesman Anusorn Aimsaard said that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had instructed relevant government agencies to draw up plans for Thai people to adjust themselves when the region becomes one community in three years’ time.

He said that several agencies had made some progress on the preparations, but they still needed to work in an integrated manner in order to designate the branding of Thailand and set strategies. In this regard, the Secretariat to the Cabinet and the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board are joining hands in drawing up the “Action Plan: The Countdown to the Establishment of the ASEAN Community.” The action plan seeks to set timeframes and clear guidelines for kicking off projects to move Thailand toward the ASEAN Community.

In addition, he said, all agencies concerned should make use of results of research and studies from the Office of the National Research Council of Thailand and the Thailand Research Fund, in preparation for the change. At the same time, they should encourage the private sector to join forces in setting strategies for the ASEAN Community, as well.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha on 25 April 2012 presided over a press conference on results of the study on the form of cross-border cooperation toward the ASEAN Community. The study focuses on Thai-Myanmar joint development, with the adoption of the Sufficiency Economy philosophy as an instrument. It was undertaken by a group of students at the National Defense Studies Institute.

People living in Sangkhla Buri district in Kanchanburi province and those in the border town of Phaya Tongsu in Myanmar were the sample group in the study. They were chosen because of cultural diversity in the two areas, where local residents might be affected by the move toward the ASEAN Community. Moreover, the study was intended to foster Thai-Myanmar cooperation and use the Sufficiency Economy philosophy as a model for learning and reducing development gaps within the ASEAN region.

According to the study, the ASEAN integration as a single community might have adverse effects on the local way of life in all respects. The best solution is that all sectors of Thai society should help develop the potential of the people to prepare them for the changing situation. Cross-border cooperation has been cited as a way to help narrow the differences among the people in the region and settle conflicts. It has been suggested that communication and public relations should be stepped up to create better understanding and promote relations among the ASEAN people. By so doing, conflicts would be managed in a constructive manner.

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