Thailand launched its first National Strategy document in 2018. The future-forward strategy aims to make Thailand “a developed country with security, prosperity and sustainability in accordance with the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy” by 2037. To do this, the strategy focuses on “wellbeing, human capital, competitiveness, income distribution, social equality, sustainability, and government efficiency.”
The document begins by listing a host of challenges faced by the country including economic, social, administration, and miscellaneous issues. On the economic front, the country’s agricultural and service sectors remain low in productivity while the labour force remains inadequately skilled. Social issues like poverty, inequality, average income and other issues are prevalent.
The administrative system is not very efficient and the inability to solve civic problems is reflected from the inefficiency. Other issues such as the serious challenges of global climate change, disasters, urgency in new green/climate-friendly technology adoption, etc. and also the requirement to adapt to the fast-changing international order require a comprehensive outlook for better resolution.
The national strategy 2018-2037 uses six indicators to evaluate progress including the well-being of Thai people, national economic parameters, human development, social equality/equity, sustainability, and administrative efficiency. It envisages three broad pathways to implement the future reforms namely Security, prosperity and Sustainability.
On the Security front, the country aims to bolster domestic peace, integrate people with the laws of the land further and secure its southern border areas. It also mentions that strengthening the overall security architecture of the ASEAN including cooperation from foreign players and NGOs will be welcomed. The tools involved include the development of human capital, tools, technologies, and Big Data systems to meet future challenges. Thailand’s southern regions of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat have been facing a long-drawn insurgency drawn from the challenges from the Malay ethnic Muslims who oppose the Thai dominance. It has led to thousands of deaths in the region.
To enhance the competitiveness of the country, it plans to enhance national multidimensional capacity based on learning from the past, adjusting the present and creating new future values. It targets to do this by “value-added agriculture”, “developing future industries and services”, “diverse tourism”, “high-quality infrastructure” for connectivity, and developing entrepreneurship according to modern requirements.
Human Capital Development is the cornerstone for any country to lead in the future. Thailand aims to bolster Thai society through the promotion of best social practices, ensuring human development at all phases of life from childhood birth to old age, adding learning curriculum to transform education for skill development and general progression of Thailand, human capacity development, mental and physical well-being, etc.
For social cohesion and a just society, Thailand aims to develop cooperation between private, public and locals for ensuring decentralized and independent governance of local communities.
It will target mitigation of inequality, ensuring multidimensional justice, spreading the economical benefits to other less prosperous parts of the country, social empowerment through local devolution of powers, etc.
To promote eco-friendly development and sustainable growth, Thailand will focus on conserving biodiversity, rehabilitating water resources, working for a sustainable maritime economy, mitigating Greenhouse gas emissions, balanced development in urban and rural areas according to environmental sustainability, eco-friendly energy policy, etc.
For public sector rebalancing and development, Thailand will strive to achieve a more people-centric public sector, integration of management, upgradation and measures to cut corruption, increase response time, etc. Human rights issues and their proper redressal marks the end of the strategy.
Thailand’s overall strategy is remarkably inward-looking and considers internal factors such as low growth, low income, social issues and sustainability as the most important challenges. This approach will yield maximum benefits if the government is successful in achieving its own set-out parameters.