Three Chulalongkorn Alumni Associations Join with JSCCIB to Host the First-ever National Forum “Better Thailand Open Dialogue” to Find Answers to All Key Questions Leading to a Better Thailand

The Chulalongkorn University Engineering Alumni Association, Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy Alumni Association, and Economics Alumni Association, in collaboration with The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry, and Banking (JSCCIB), which comprises the Board of Trade of Thailand, The Federation of Thai Industry, and the Thai Bankers’ Association, hosted the “Better Thailand Open Dialogue” (aka “Better Thailand” event). This is the first-ever forum to openly share constructive ideas leading to a better Thailand. The forum, which is supported by BRANDi and the Innovative Engineering for Sustainability Program, runs for two days from 19 to 20 May 2022 and was broadcast live on the YouTube channel BetterThailand2022.

H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, as the chairman of the opening ceremony, gave a keynote address on “Past, Present, and Future: The Better Thailand.” He encouraged all parties to engage in development for the better, pushing forward to make it a reality and ensure Thailand is ready for the world after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event featured a main stage along with concurrent activities on smaller stages. The “Better Stage” is for the new generation to showcase their creativity and inspirations and how they can contribute to a better Thailand. “Better Thailand” exhibitions from the government sector and 30 private-sector companies and Bio Circular Green (BCG) model-based startups highlighted various dimensions of Thailand. The general public are welcome to join the activities at the “Better Stage” and visit the exhibition with free entry during the two-day event at Royal Paragon Hall 5F, Siam Paragon.

Mr. Sakchai Yodvanich, President of the Chulalongkorn University Engineering Alumni Association, said the “Better Thailand Open Dialogue” forum is the country’s first-ever collaboration at a national scale involving the education sector, public sector, private sector, and social sector co-hosting a forum to exchange ideas constructively to mutually find clearer answers in five areas relating to all Thais. These areas include: 1) Thailand overall; 2) the Economy; 3) Society; 4) the Environment; and 5) Quality of life. Over 50 topics were discussed with ideas exchanged among 35 experts and key participants to drive the country’s policy and direction with input from the education, government, private, and social sectors.

“The key goal for the forum is to provide an opportunity for all parties to get involved and find answers to unresolved questions ranging from the macro to the micro level. For example, how will Thailand move forward in the aftermath of COVID-19? Will the economy get better? Other areas of concern to Thai citizens include building a strong infrastructure and guidelines to enhance the country’s potential to ensure a level global playing field. Other challenges up for discussion included how to solve public and household debt problems, inflation driving rising prices and a higher cost of living, environmental issues, and modernizing Thai laws and bureaucracy to catch up to the digital era. By coming together, we can turn doubts into hopes and increase cooperation to manage Thailand by balancing the needs of the economy, society and the environment. Together, we can make a better Thailand a reality,” said Mr. Sakchai.

“Better Thailand” Day 1 draws energy to drive the Thai economy to the fullest

Mr. Supattanapong Punmeechaow, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy, and Mr. Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Minister of Finance, presented approaches to drive the Thai economy on the panel discussion “Looking at the World, Reflecting Back on the Thai Economy.” Other panel members included Mr. Danucha Phichayanan, Secretary-General, Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council; Dr. Sethaput Suthiwartanarueput, Governor, Bank of Thailand; and Dr. Somprawin Manprasert, First Executive Vice President and Chief Economist of the Economic Intelligence Center (EIC), Siam Commercial Bank. They actively exchanged views on the global economy and its impact on the Thai economy, especially post-COVID-19, to find solutions to problems and mitigate short-term economic effects. They also discussed how the Thai economy will be shaped over the long run, identifying ways to cope with changes in the post-COVID-19 era that should pose opportunities for Thai people.

In the afternoon session, Mr. Chantanon Wannakhajorn, Secretary-General, Office of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, joined in a discussion on “The New Era of the Thai Economy: How will Thailand Move Forward?, Part 1” together with Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor, Tourism Authority of Thailand; ML Chayotid Kridakorn, Thai Trade Representative; Mr. Kriengkrai Thiennukul, Chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries; and Mr. Aukrit Unahalekhaka, Co-Founder & CEO of Ricult. They had a fruitful discussion about the future direction for Thai industries and developing the service and agriculture sectors, while moving on the design of infrastructure and supporting factors such as technology and area-based development. Focusing on these topics will help Thailand prepare for future crises and changes.

Moving on to the “New Era of the Thai Economy: How will Thailand Move Forward?, Part 2,” Mr. Saksiam Chidchob, Minister of Transport, joined a panel with Dr. Kanit Sangsubhan, Secretary-General of the Policy Committee, Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC); Ms. Duangjai Asawachintachit, Secretary-General, Board of Investment (BOI); Mr. Sanan Angubolkul, Chairman, Thai Chamber of Commerce; and Mr. Suradech Taweesaengsakulthai, CEO of Cho Thavee Public Co., Ltd., to explore ways to support the growth of the Thai economy through infrastructure and area-based development to lay a strong foundation for Thailand’s future.

“Better Thailand” Day 2 brings active discussions about solutions to social, environment, and quality of life issues

In Day 2 of the “Better Thailand” Forum, Mr. Wissanu Krea-ngam, Deputy Prime Minister, gave a special keynote address on the “New Era of Thai Society: Modern Law and Bureaucratic System, Keeping Pace with Global Development, Combatting Corruption Now.” He shared his views about the current situation, saying that Thailand is moving in the right direction and everything takes time, but the country is definitely moving forward.

After the keynote address, Mr. Varawut Silpa-archa, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, joined a discussion on the “New Era for the Development of the Environment Along with the Economy” together with Prof. Dr. Sirirurg Songsivilai, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation; Mr. Kulit Sombatsiri, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy; Mr. Atthaphon Rerkpiboon, Chief Executive Officer and President, PTT Public Co., Ltd.; and Mr. Rungroj Rangsiyopash, President and CEO, Siam Cement Public Co., Ltd. The panel discussed how to put eco-friendly management in place in every part of the business chain, finding new business models to reduce global warming, increasing the use of clean energy, and healing the ecosystem. They reinforced the goal of having balanced growth for both the economy and the environment, achieving better quality of life, and maintaining a good-quality environment for the next generation.

The afternoon session featured constructive discussions about quality-of-life issues. Mr. Anutin Charnvirakul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health; and Mr. Juti Krairiksh, Minister of Social Development and Human Security, led a panel discussion on the “New Era of Quality of Life – Taking Care of All Ages and Increasing Welfare Benefits” by addressing issues about basic problems relating to a good quality of life such as public health, education, and managing government services and welfare. These services should be managed to meet the needs of all ages and genders at large on an equal basis. Ms. Trinuch Thienthong, Minister of Education; and Ms. Onfa Vejjajiva, Secretary-General, Office of the Public Sector Development Commission, also shared their views during the panel discussion.

General Anupong Phaochinda, Minister of the Interior; Adjunct Prof. Dr. Anek Laothamatas, Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation; Mr. Suchart Chomklin, Minister of Labour; Mr. Pornchai Theeravet, Director, Fiscal Policy Office; and Mr. Ronadol Numnonda, Deputy Governor, Financial Institutions Stability, Bank of Thailand, joined in a panel discussion on the “New Era for Quality of Life: Reducing Inequality, Giving Chances to All.” The panel shared their perspectives on how to provide Thai people with access to quality work, developing the skills required that match market demands, and solving the problem of debt, which will ultimately lead to the sustainable eradication of poverty.

Stay tuned to the Main Stage of the “Better Thailand” Forum and watch the sessions live via YouTube channel BetterThailand2022, on 19 and 20 May 2022, 09:00 to 16:30 hrs.
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A “Better Stage” for the New Generation, plus the “Better Thailand” Exhibition

In addition to the discussions on the Main Stage, there is also the “Better Stage” for the new generation to showcase their creativity with ideas that can contribute to a better Thailand. This stage featured speakers from various fields sharing their knowledge and experiences about creative ways to make Thailand better in the areas of food, the environment, materials, music, and the economy. The participants helped to spark fresh ideas and inspiration for the new generation to take part in making Thailand better. Activities and talks on the Better Stage included:

  • Tono Phakin, an Ocean Ambassador for Sustainability in the Asia-Pacific region, talking about the “Human-Nature Relationship: How to Make Humans Coexist with Nature Sustainably.”
  • A fun cooking workshop led by Chef Chumphon to learn how to expand local cuisine to other plant-based raw materials.
  • A discussion on “Future Materials for a Sustainable Future” by the Creative Economy Agency (CEA).
  • Discussion on the “Race to Net Zero for Thailand: How the New Generation can Help” by the Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (TGO).
  • Discussion about “BCG: the Future for the New Generation” by McKinsey, representing the private sector, along with startups. Discussion about “Restart Engineering: A Definition of Engineering in the New Era” by the Engineering Alumni Association, Chulalongkorn University.
  • Discussion about “Restart Business: Redefining a New World of Business” by the Alumni Association of the Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy, Chulalongkorn University.
  • A “Thai Fighting Spirit” performance by “depa” and contemporary Thai dance performances by the “Kid Plus Sip” artist group, as well as an Asian pop music performance by “Asia 7.”

The public is invited to visit the “Better Thailand” exhibition where over 30 government and private agencies showcase Thailand in five zones: 1) Financial Institutions: Measures to help people deal with financial problems, including loan programs for retail and SME customers; 2) Government Agencies: A variety of development efforts for the future of Thailand; 3) BCG Zone: The BCG program and Smart Farming projects, with a demonstration of an EV platform application; 4) Start Up Zone: Carbon capture innovations and AI-based and IoT technology to reduce energy consumption, plus various brands of recycled and upcycled products for sale and on display; and 5) Bio Zone: Cooking demonstrations using plant-based products, booths for virtual reality (VR) games and smart agriculture software, plus innovative products for health enthusiasts.

Anyone interested can check out the “Better Thailand” Exhibition and enjoy “Better Stage” activities on 19 and 20 May, from 10:00 to 16:30 hrs., at The Royal Paragon Hall, fifth floor, Siam Paragon.