Govt reveals digital transformation master plan

Scheme reflects Asean chairmanship theme

Uttama Savanayana, Minister of Industry and leader of the regime's Palang Pracharath Party (at podium) and Digital Economy and Society Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj announced plans to lead the master plan that will usher in Digital Thailand. (Photos by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DE) is preparing a master plan for collaboration that echoes Asean's theme of "Advancing Partnership for Sustainability", which was chosen by Thailand as the theme of its chairmanship in 2019.

The plan aims to improve and facilitate further intra-Asean cooperation across five categories, namely smart city development, cyber security, connectivity and mobility, harmonisation and alignment, as well as manpower and society, said DE minister Pichet Durongkaveroj at the Bangkok Post International Forum 2018 on Wednesday, with the theme "Asian Transformation: The Changing Landscape".

Mr Pichet said that the Asean chairmanship's theme will facilitate the country's digital transformation through the increased collaboration with other stakeholders in the region, in addition to boosting the country's overall image in the bloc.

"Malaysian Prime Minster Mahathir Mohamad also supports the idea of advancing partnership for sustainability," he said.

Currently, Thailand is ranked third among Asean members on the digital development index, just behind Singapore and Malaysia.

Mr Pichet said the government is collaborating with the private sector to develop an digital ecosystem that is conducive to, and in line with Thailand's 20-year digital roadmap, which focuses on the development of infrastructure, governance, cyber security, technological development, and manpower.

Success in these five areas of would help the government accomplish three critical targets by 2020, namely the modernisation of rural areas, reduced income disparity, and increased capacity to usher in the digital age, he added.

"Currently, all countries are experiencing dynamic changes caused by digital disruptions. To cope with the changes, we need to think in a strategic manner, without the traditional mindset as we have in the past," he continued.

Separately, Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai echoed Mr Pichet and said that his ministry is also preparing a plan that echoes Asean's theme.

He said Thailand is proposing an Asean Digital Agility Leaders' Meeting next year, as well as improvements to the Asean-Japan Cybersecurity Capacity-Building Centre, which is based in Thailand.

In a related matter, Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana told the Bangkok Post International Forum that the upcoming general election and the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project will help boost Thailand's economic growth.

"The general election and the EEC will transform Thailand," he said. "The EEC and the 20-year national strategy were solely designed to improve our industry and the economy."

Five projects along the EEC is expected to kick off in 2019 -- the high-speed cross-airport rail link, the third phase of the Map Ta Phut and Leam Chabang deep-sea ports, an aviation maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) centre, and U-Tapao airport.

Mr Uttama said because EEC projects will benefit the region's economy, Asean members should work together to develop its information, digital, industry value chains so all stakeholders can benefit.

Ultimately, the government plans to connect the EEC with other economic corridors built under the umbrella of the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS).

The EEC will ultimately link Thailand's eastern promises to Myanmar's Dawei deep-sea port, Cambodia's Sihanoukville port, and Vietnam's Vung Tau port.

As a part of the project, the government is expanding the country's largest seaport, Laem Chabang, with the goal of transforming it into the Southeast Asia's marine hub.

The government's EEC project will be carried out under a public-private-partnership (PPP) contract, Mr Uttama said.

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