Surin: Thai government sector not yet set for ASEAN Community

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BANGKOK, Jan 7 – The Thai government sector is still unready to protect Thailand’s national interest in the ASEAN Community, according to Surin Pitsuwan, former secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Mr Surin told reporters in an international seminar on “ASEAN Youth in the ASEAN Community and the Global Community at Thammasat University that the private sector is ready for the ASEAN Community in its knowledge and experience in competition but Thailand’s government and politicians still lack direction, knowledge and capabilities necessary to protect the national interest.

He attributed the unreadiness to the deep-rooted patronage system in the Thai government sector that, he said, blocks capable officials from reaching key positions where the national interest can be protected.

Mr Surin considers Thai politics as having been trapped in considerable conflict. He suggested that politics be developed to quickly ensure complete participation and general acceptance.

The development would allow Thailand to have capable representatives in negotiations with other ASEAN members, he said.

Asked about ASEAN’s readiness to become a community, Mr Surin said that the grouping had never been a single body as intended. He said that it had not developed even one single market where non-tariff trade barriers were lifted.

The seminar on “ASEAN Youth in the ASEAN Community and the Global Community” was set at the Rangsit campus of Thammasat University opening yesterday and running through this coming Monday.

Participants are Southeast Asian young people and it is designed to encourage the young to be aware of their roles as global citizens and allowing them to exchange their experiences.