Experts warn on strategy picks

Chadchart: Tapped for panel post earlier

The latest national strategy drafter picks have far more diverse backgrounds than members of other panels set up by the regime, but experts have warned simply including prominent businessmen is no guarantee of success.

Former Pheu Thai minister Chadchart Sittipunt, beverage tycoon Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi and Somprasong Boonyachai, a former top executive of Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS), have been made committee members.

A National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) source, who is also on the 70-member committee, but who asked not to be named, said Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon is pleased with Mr Chadchart’s abilities and had wanted him to join the government as transport minister, but had waited until political discord had calmed down before he invited Mr Chadchart onto the panel.

Somprasong: Set to help with human resources

The list of 20-year strategy drafters was published in the Royal Gazette on Thursday, and it includes appointees who will focus on six areas, each serving a five-year term.

Mr Chadchart, a former transport minister in the Yingluck Shinawatra government, has been assigned to competitiveness building. Mr Thapana, president and CEO of Thai Beverage and the son of its billionaire founder Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, will be involved with creating opportunity and social equality. Meanwhile, Mr Somprasong, director and chairman of the executive committee of BEC World Plc and vice-chairman of the board of AIS, is on the committee for drafting national strategy for the development of human resources.

The other areas include national security, creating economic growth, creating an environmentally friendly quality of life and ensuring a balance in state-sector management.

Decharut Sukkumnoed, head of Kasetsart University’s Agricultural and Resource Economics Department, said: “This government has many times invited big businesses to help with the drafting of government policies. It’s what this government believes in. I am not opposing them, but the government should not depend on prominent capitalists only. I want to see representatives of the farmers,” he said.

“Maybe not farmers’ representatives but at least someone who has different opinions to the government such as Mr Chadchart. It’s not guaranteed unless there is wider participation,” Mr Decharut said.

Mr Decharut said he was more interested in the process by which the committee will work than its composition.

“The government should be clear that they are willing to be open in every aspect. Our society is composed of people from all walks of life who have many different opinions. The government needs to encourage participation from all stakeholders.”

He advised the government not to repeat what he thinks was a mistake — forcing its ideas through without flexibility, such as when implementing the National Strategy Bill where only a public hearing conducted in 2015 will be used as its guideline.

Hannarong Yaowalers, chairman of the Thai-Water Partnership, noted that there are no representatives from civic groups working on the national strategy for the environment.

Kriangkrai Tiannukul, vice chairman of the Federation of Thailand Industries said it is good to have a number of business tycoons involved, as in the past, the government and the business sector used to set up separate committees which worked independently and therefore lacked the continuity to push the country forward, he said.

“This government has adopted this model to involve major cooperation between the government and private sector. This will help push Thailand toward sustainable growth since the 20-year strategy is aimed at boosting the country’s competitiveness,” he said.

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