Spatial Economic Initiatives in Thailand

Last week I attended the International Conference on Thai Studies ( held at the International Conference Centre in Chiang Mai (


(Walden Bello acting as discussant).

My paper was “Spatial Economic Initiatives in Thailand.”


In common with other mainland Southeast Asian countries, Thailand has historically been dominated by a primate city, Bangkok, in which all principal economic, social, political, religious and monarchical institutions have been concentrated. Awareness of the problems that this concentration has caused has been recognised in developmental plans since the 1950s, when efforts at decentralization were first introduced. Assisted by improvements in transportation infrastructure made during the Cold War period, initiatives such as the creation of the Northern Region Industrial Estate have been intended to develop other parts of the country to modify migration flows and reduce income inequalities which have become more marked through the years. The Board of Investment has been instrumental in offering incentives to foreign and domestic investors in industrial estates to the north of Bangkok in Pathum Thani and Ayutthaya, where good roads link the places of production with the markets of the capital and the main port of Laem Chabang. Currently, the border special economic zone policy aims, insofar as its objectives have been coherently stated, to promote development in border regions which can take advantage of cross-border trade and investment. In these efforts, success has usually been achieved when public sector agencies have provided what private sector interests wanted and this is likely to continue in the future. This paper explores the various economic spatial initiatives that have taken place in the country and attempts to analyse when and where these have been successful and what lessons failures have been able to provide.

Keywords: Thailand, special economic zones, economic geography, regional development


The Virtuous Life of a Thai Buddhist Nun

Anouncing: Lovichakorntikul, Petcharat, Min Putthithanasombat and John Walsh, “The Virtuous Life of a Thai Buddhist Nun,” in Zayn R. Kassam, ed., Women and Asian Religions (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO LLC), pp.261-82.



Thai society continues to view women as the ‘rear legs of the elephant,’ who should follow and support their husbands who are the front legs. Yet this traditional lifestyle has been challenged by the spread of capitalism through globalization and has been transformed, particularly in urban areas. The expectations and aspirations of women have been significantly altered and their ability and willingness to work outside the house, which have had clear impacts upon their duties within families and households. This changing role for women is matched by the increased importance, particularly in Bangkok. In the meantime, Thai Buddhist society does not recognize Bhikkuni or female monk status, but does accept women becoming nuns and following the eight precepts. One woman who followed this route and founded the Phra Dhammakaya Temple, lived a long and virtuous life which in many ways parallels the changes in women’s status during this period. The life of Khun Yai Chand (or Grandmother Chand) Khonnokyoong (1909-2000) mirrors changes in the lives of Buddhist women in Thailand as the country entered the modern age. Born into a medium-class agricultural family and received no formal education according to Thai customs and tradition which did not support young girls’ schooling, she left and rejected familial claims to become a maid in a rich household in Bangkok in order to learn the supernormal meditative powers so as to ask for forgiveness from her passed-away father. Intentionally, she dedicated herself to meditation as a means of making merit for her father and family and ultimately she devoted her life to being a nun at the age of 29. So that, in 1970, with just $ 100 (at this present’s value which was equivalent to $ 160 at that time), she was able to establish her own temple that has become an extremely successful organization which is aimed at uniting the sentiments and ideas of the past with the present. Her career combines traditional values with the modern means of bringing them about, thereby indicating the role that technology has had in freeing women from domestic labor and enabling them to follow other pursuits. Within twenty years, her followers were spreading her teaching around the world and now there are some 200 temples or branches of the original Phra Dhammakaya Temple nationwide, and 60 temples or meditation centers around the world. She has instructed hundreds of thousands of people both Thai and foreign in her methods. Further, she focuses on spiritual development and the purification of the mind and body. More than 50,000 teenagers have joined programs to avoid drugs, alcohol, and gambling as well as volunteer for public service on regular basis because of her influence. Some 2,000 monks and 1,000 Ubasokas and Ubasikas (male and female laypeople) devote their lives to Buddhism working as a full time staff at her temple. On Buddhist holidays, as many as 50-100,000 people come together to meditate in silence and to attend the religious ceremonies. In common with the inspiration of Bodhisattvas, she provides a community of peace and obedience (without questioning), with new generations ready to build lives in the new world with the methods and traditions of the old.


Keywords: Buddhist Nun, Dhammakaya, Leadership, Self-development, Thailand

SIU Journal of Management, Vol.7, No.1 (June, 2017)

The full issue is available here: SIU JM 7.1


Volume 7, Number 1, June, 2017
Editor’s Introduction (download 7.1.Editor.Introduction) 4


1. Impact of Corporate Governance Attributes on Intellectual Capital Disclosure: Evidence from Listed Banking Companies in Bangladesh – Swadip Bhattacharjee, Shimul Chakraborty and Sumon Bhattacharjee (download Bhattacharjee)  7
2. Effect of Socio-Cognitive Technique on Tobacco Smoking Cessation Among Undergraduates in Selected Public Universities in South-West Nigeria – Aaron Akinloye, Olufemi Adegbesan and Mary Sam-Odutola (download Akinloye)  37
3. Physical Activity Intervention Effects on Tobacco Smoking Cessation among University Students – Aaron Olalekan Akinloye, Mary Sam-Odutola and Adetoun Akinwusi (download Olalekan)  53
4. The Adoption Intentions of Smartphones among Young Consumers: Diffusion of Innovation Theory Perspective – Suleman Anwar, Ayesha Ramzan Butt, Eliane Bragança de Matos and Muhammad Kashif (download Anwar)  69


 International Conference on Recent Trends in Business Management

(ICRTBM, 2017)   (download 7.1.Conference)                                                                  93


1. Chronicles on Our Troubled Times by Thomas Piketty – John Walsh (download Piketty)  96
2. Food Security in Post-Conflict Nepal: Challenges and Opportunities by Bishnu Raj Upreti, Sagar Raj Sharma and Suman Babu Paudel, eds. – John Walsh (download Upreti) 99
3.  Reclaiming Development: An Alternative Economic Policy Manual by Ha-Joon Chang and Ilene Grabel – John Walsh (download Chang)  103

CALL FOR PAPERS                                                                                                               108

AUTHOR’S GUIDELINES                                                                                                     110

ABOUT SHINAWATRA UNIVERSITY                                                                                113

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD                                                                                        115

Factors Affecting Physicians’ Satisfaction with the Clinical Laboratory Services of Private Laboratories in Mandalay


Win, Sandar Tin and John Walsh, “Factors Affecting Physicians’ Satisfaction with the Clinical Laboratory Services of Private Laboratories in Mandalay,” The Myanmar Journal, Vol.4, No.1 (2017), available at:


Abstract: Physicians are primary customers of laboratory services and their perception of the provided services is considered an important measure of quality assurance. This study investigates the factors affecting the physicians’ satisfaction with clinical laboratory services of 5-7 big and medium-sized private laboratories in Mandalay, to find out the problems causing dissatisfaction in different factors and identify the areas need to improve in laboratory process. The study measured satisfaction of laboratories’ primary customer (physicians) of provided services in different aspects including the quality and reliability of the result, the efficiency of laboratory personnel, laboratory management responsiveness, phlebotomy service ,  turnaround time TAT and laboratory information system. Physician satisfaction paper-based survey of 5-Likert Scale, (1=very satisfied, 2=satisfied, 3=neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, 4= dissatisfied, and 5= very dissatisfied) was developed based on the CAP survey (College of American Pathologists) and related published studies. One hundred and five physicians complete the survey. The result shows that, there are significant correlations between physicians’ satisfaction with the other four independent variables (service attitude of laboratory personnel, phlebotomy service, quality and reliability of results, and efficiency of laboratory personnel).  More than half of the respondents were satisfied with overall laboratory services (N=62 (59.05%). Physicians were most satisfied with lab information system (easy & clear report and reference range reported). However, physicians were most dissatisfied with the test turnaround times (TAT) for urgent, and routine tests. Statistically significant association was mostly observed between physician satisfaction and service length. This study presented areas need to improve of laboratory services at the private laboratories in Mandalay, which mainly related to administration, communication, quality and delay in TAT. The efficiency and optimization of laboratory service need to be readdressed by the laboratory administration. Effective extra laboratory communication channels needed to be established to improve interaction between laboratory and physicians.

Keywords : Physician satisfaction, Laboratory services, TAT, Laboratory management, Results accuracy

The Role of E-Commerce in Enabling Mekong Region Subsistence Farmers to Enter Regional and International Markets Equitably


I am back now from the 1st ERIA Research Workshop on E-Commerce held in Kuala Lumpur. It was successful, I think and the second (at which we are to present draft final papers) will be in July here in Bangkok.

The abstract for my paper is as follows:

There are still large numbers of subsistence farmers in the Greater Mekong Subregion who live in or close to poverty. A recent four-country survey found that nearly half of all people interviewed has some form of food insecurity experience over the past year and these results were higher for people in rural areas (Hapfel & Walsh, forthcoming). Problems from which such households suffer include lack of capital and education, poor access to specific inputs and technical knowledge and no awareness of how to obtain market access. When farmers do enter into contracts for cash-crop production, they face problems such as lack of effective contract law, contracts in verbal not written forms and the propensity of either side to the contract to change conditions in response to short-term price changes. In any case, farmers suffer from the need to trade commodities in volatile markets, the lack of local market development that would make product diversification less risky and inability to convert commodities into value-added products in the context of a region vulnerable to environmental shock and the emerging effects of global climate change. While farmers’ fortunes have been transformed in Thailand, this was at least partly the result of an active, interventionist private sector and extensive transportation and distribution infrastructure that do not exist to anything like the same extent in other Mekong region countries. However, what people in rural areas do now have in great numbers is access to the internet through relatively cheap mobile telecommunications. The penetration of mobile telephones in every country has now become very high and, while freedom of speech with respect to political issues is still restricted, this rarely has an impact on commercial relationships and networks. At the very least, this technology permits people to exchange knowledge about market prices and demand conditions for various products. However, the technology does not permit communications with people speaking a different language nor suggest how to find new market contacts, especially when they are cross-border in nature. There is a need, therefore, to try to understand what mechanisms need to come into existence in order to promote the kinds of remote linkages required to help bring farmers into market relationships on a more or less equitable basis. Is it necessary to introduce either new laws or regulations to ensure e-commerce takes place in a desirable manner or else to change the way that existing laws or regulations are policed? This paper identifies the current conditions under which farmers in the Mekong region currently exist and analyses their ability to access both mobile telecommunications in itself and the network benefits that may flow from it. It also outlines what legal and regulatory frameworks exist and how they may need to be modified to promote equitable market development. The analysis leads to a discussion of what might be achieved through e-commerce in this context and provides recommendations for stakeholders at a variety of levels.

Keywords: agriculture, e-commerce, equitable development, Greater Mekong Subregion, markets