Thailand is the second largest economy in Asia, yet the country does not show significant economic growth and lags behind its neighbors who have become more competitive in various high-tech industries.
To attract investment and developments in Thailand and improve the sluggish economy of the last decade, the government came up with a plan to create a new mega economic zone to attract investors to develop advance technology in aviation and automation and other related industries.
Considered to be the best strategic location on the Eastern Seaboard, Chachoengsao, Chonburi and Rayong were designated to be the 3 main provinces at the heart of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
Apichart Thongyou, EEC Advisor & EEC HDC Chairman, invited members of the media from Chonburi, Rayong and Chachoengsao to a meeting at Pattaya City Hall on Dec 11, for a discussion on how best the media could help publicize correct news and information to the public in a timely manner.
Apichart explained that when a country’s economy stagnates for 3 consecutive years, one starts to worry. Not only has Thailand’s economy not shown any significant growth in this period, but instead has dropped even lower in the past 8 years. The government had to do something urgently to revive the economy.
Thailand is bogged down by the so-called middle-income trap, where wage inflation makes industries less competitive.
It was time to update the people and the country and move forward. To this end the EEC plan was hatched as part of the overall ‘Thailand 4.0 strategy’.
Apichart said that pilot projects which are all set to start include, development of U-Tapao International Airport and the Aerotropolis, High-Speed Railway Airport Link between Don Muang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao Airports, Phase 3 of Maptaphut Port development, Phase 3 of Laem Chabang seaport development, U-Tapao repair, maintenance and overhaul center and the Thailand digital park.
The EEC development projects include infrastructure, targeted industry, regional tourism, the aviation hub, human resource, education, research, and technology, new city (Chachoengsao, Pattaya, Rayong), regional PR and community-understanding and the EEC agriculture, irrigation and environmental implementation program.
Apichart went on to say that human resource, education, research, and technology development will help to improve and restructure the educational system which is “very old fashioned,”. He stressed the importance of vocational training which will give opportunities for young people to get better high skilled jobs.
Apichart stressed the importance of the media in passing on correct information to the public so as to develop community understanding. He said that too often misinformation is spread by certain elements which cause misunderstanding and can create discord among the public.
He asked the media to not only focus on problems and difficulties, but to give knowledge and solutions for challenging situations during the development period.
He said facts and opinions have become less distinguishable in today’s news. The media must, therefore, raise awareness of the importance of factual reporting and the damaging effects of distorted or slanderous content. It must also develop communication channels that provide accurate information, free of outside interference.