Six parties embrace innovation as key tool to move Thailand forward
An open and transparent government will be the key for Thailand's transformation into an innovative economy that can sustainably drive economic and social growth and prosperity, representatives of six political parties agreed on at a debate hosted by the National Innovation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday.
The event, co-organised by the Institute of Asian Studies and the Faculty of Architecture at Chulalongkorn University, was themed “Innovation Policies to Move the Country Forward”. Each party shared its innovation vision to develop Thailand.
Voranai Vanijaka of the Chart Pattana Kla Party, Tankhun Jitissara of the Democrat Party, Suksit Srichomkwan of the Pheu Thai Party, Natthaphong Ruengpanyawut of the Move Forward Party, Thepparith Senamngern of the Thai Sang Thai Party, and Duangrit Benjathikul Chairungruang of the Untied Thai Nation Party spoke at the event.
All of them agreed that innovation is critical for an exponential improvement in all aspects of Thailand's competitiveness.
They also shared a similar vision and policies for cultivating an innovation mindset in Thailand and enabling it to be a key leader in addressing future challenges and difficulties.
However, they pointed out that in order to achieve the top spot on the global list of innovative countries, Thailand must first form a new government that is truly democratic, fair, open-minded, and transparent.
Voranai of the Chart Pattana Kla Party said the country needed to dismantle its bureaucratic system, which is riddled with redundancy and allows corruption to flourish.
He proposed establishing digital government tech as a good starting point for Thailand to become an innovative country, arguing that technology would ensure there would be no chance of bribery or corruption.
He believed that innovation could not occur unless Thailand has a democratic government that could assure its people there were no hidden agendas or capitalists involved.
If you want to improve Thailand's innovation, start with the government, he said.
Government has important role
Natthaphong of the Move Forward Party agreed with Voranai. He said that innovation would be crucial to end the country's corruption because it would allow people to scrutinise their government.
However, innovation cannot occur if the government does not allow it.
He emphasised the importance of empowering people with their rights, which included educating them with an innovator’s mindset.
He explained that the government plays an important role as a facilitator in providing them with easy access to free internet, low-cost electricity, and other tools needed to incubate the innovator mindset.
Duangrit of the United Thai Nation Party added the importance of transforming the country's education system so that learners have more options until they find the right career path. It was also important to reskill and upskill the workforce to have the set of skills required in the labour market.
He suggested reforming the banking system to allow small and medium-sized businesses access to funds needed to grow their businesses, including innovation.
Thepparith of the Thai Sang Thai Party said innovation simply referred to the process, tools, or method used to solve a problem. As a result, innovation does not always imply cutting-edge technology.
He said the government should assist people in realising that they can be innovators in their particular fields.
To make people aware of this fact, Thailand must have inclusive education, he said
Tankhun of the Democrat Party agreed with Dungrit and Thepparith, but added that students should be allowed to set their own learning targets, while people should be allowed to participate in setting the proper direction for their own city.
Additionally, he suggested that when considering innovation as a tool to improve the country's economy and society, the environment should be considered as well.
When it comes to unlocking people's efficiency, Suksit of the Pheu Thai Party highlighted that the government can be both an angel and a devil.
This means that while authoritarian governments try to develop the country for the benefit of their own parties, the people get nothing but misery. A government that allows its citizens to participate and freely express their opinions will help them reach their full potential, he said.
He believed that the role of the government was to provide and facilitate all necessary tools and processes for people to develop their own skills and potential.
NIA director Pan-arj Chairatana said the event showed the vision of all parties to drive the Thai economy and society through innovation in order to earn the public's trust.
He expected the newly elected government and the general public to understand that innovation is more than just digital transformation. Innovation is a tool for truly addressing real-world challenges, such as the economy, employment, and personal security, he said.