Get ready: Asean economic community is coming in 2015

Thailand may encounter both crises and opportunities when the Asean Economic Community is implemented in a few years.

But if Thais prepare thoroughly, the AEC would not affect them that badly and they may even find opportunities, academics said recently.

However, after seeing no concrete move towards preparing for the AEC by the government, Visanu Vongsinsirikul, director of Dhurakij Pundit University's Asean Community Preparation Centre (ACPC), the most influential body with the power to prepare the country for changes, called on the government to think and act as soon as possible.

Otherwise Thailand would lag behind other countries rather than be able to grasp the opportunities.

"Thailand has advantages over other Asean countries in terms of geographical features, weather, races and cost of living. The question is how can we make use of the advantages we have?" he said.

"Foreign languages, English in particular, are our big problem. But we can learn them," he said.

"We cannot escape the AEC. Even if we don't want to work in other Asean countries, citizens from those countries will certainly come to work in Thailand," he said.

The government should put preparing for the AEC on the national agenda.

"Prime Minister (Yingluck Shinawatra) should assign each ministry to study what it should do and present its own proposals to the premier. Then, the ministries implement the proposals. If the government tries to achieve good preparation and successfully does that, it will be the government's great accomplishment."

ACPC is trying to educate people about the Asean community, including the AEC, to help them understand Asean and inspire them to find possible opportunities in the new setup.

ACPC has provided seminars and courses on the Asean community to requesting agencies, including educational institutions, and has invited experts on Asean to share their knowledge.

It has joined hands with the Thailand Development Research Institute to carry out research on the state of preparation of institutions in basic, vocational and higher education in Thailand and compare that to Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

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