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Chairman’s Circle Strategic Forum: ASEAN 2015 and Energy Security in the Region

28 October 2015, The Aloft Bangkok Sukhumvit 11 Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand

Presented by HDFF and The Asia Foundation

PTT Presentation

Energy Security and Current Situations: ASEAN 2015 and the Future of Energy Security in the Region

The purpose of this presentation was to explain ASEAN’s current energy security situation and to contrast it with Thailand and the work PTT is doing in the region. Dr. Santipat Arunthari began by explaining how ASEAN has experienced an enormous growth in population as well as in GDP, 300% from 2001 to 2013. He explained how even though the region has the potential for a variety of energy sources, in general there is a deficit in the region since it consumes more energy than it produces. For example, Thailand has a high potential for natural gas but has a small reserve of it. Overall, as the demand for energy has increased in ASEAN along with its dependence on fossil fuels.

In response to this energy challenge in Thailand, PTT has developed a plan that seeks to address the issue. This plan is based on the idea of providing clients energy at an adequate, extensive, fair, and sustainable rate. Dr. Santipat argues that PTT has focused on the exploration and development of new methods to maintain a long-term supply to meet the country’s energy demand, by developing gas transmission pipelines to servic more stations, using a market-based pricing strategy, as well as building domestic and international networks to ensure a long-term supply of energy.

Furthermore, he suggests that thanks to the work PTT is doing in Thailand, although 20% of ASEAN’s population may lack electricity, in Thailand this only represents 1% of the population.

Comment: We need to address the grid system. Experimenting with renewable sources will do nothing in the long run unless there is a change to the grid system. We need a battery that can store solar energy.
Question: how far are you involved with coal? and what is PTT’s stance in regards to renewable energy?

Question: Is there a problem with updating the grid in order to increase the effectiveness of the transfer of energy from the surf station to user?
Answer: In 3 to 4 years the grid is supposed to be updated for better connection.
Question: What is the PTT vision of renewable/alternative energy?

A: There is no clear vision, but the company is keen on working on renewable projects. For the last 2-3 years it has not been the focus of the company but in the next 5 years renewable energy will be more important for the company because it needs to adapt to the changing world.

Thitisak Boonpramote, Ph. D.

Energy Security and Sustainability in ASEAN

Dr. Thitisak begins by asking what is the importance of energy security? He answered that we rely heavily on fossil fuel and that it impacts our daily lives. He then explains that to speak of energy security along a supply chain we must take into consideration the time and products that allow energy to be delivered to a customer. A distinction is made between primary energy resources, such as crude oil, natural gas, uranium, etc. and end-energy carriers such as gasoline and electricity. Thus, a secure source of end-energy is for the benefits both the public and the private interest.

For him the energy security challenge rests at three levels: the primary energy resources, the carriers, and the effectiveness of the delivery of end-energy. This security challenge must be balanced between the four poles: availability, accessibility, affordability, and acceptability, in order to find a situation that is most appropriate for a given country. He also hinted at some of the insecurities of ASEAN, mainly that 96% of its energy comes from fossil fuel and that 8/10 member countries are net oil importers. Thus, he suggested that given all these challenges, perhaps the cost accrued to society in terms of switching to a more renewable source of energy may not be so easy, since consumers might prefer to continue to use fossil fuels given that they are more reliable and cheaper as they utilize a more advanced method of production.

Q: Demand Side Management. Energy efficiency is good, but is this what everybody wants?

A: Demand side is hard to control.

Q: What percentage of energy is used for transportation vs. household use?
A: Most refinery oil is used for transportation.
Comment: if you can change the transport system you can decrease the energy waste.

Q: What is energy security in terms of the national plan?
A: Politics are not stable. Many times the people that are in a position to make a decision do not understand the complexity of the problem, while the people that understand the problem, many times cannot make a decision. Furthermore, the national plan has already established that it will use more renewable energy in the future.
Comment: There is something to be learned from China. It is the leader in nuclear energy. It has a 100% fail-safe power plant that is now operating under the credibility of the UK.

Dr. Nob Satyasai (Thai Energy Reform)

Future of Sustainable Energy: Balance of Benefits to All Sectors

As Thailand is the 2nd largest consumer of energy among ASEAN nations, leaders must come together and enact movements to limit the amount of energy being consumed. Government leaders and company officials must figure out ways to match the worldwide trend of limiting coal usage and replacing it with non-fossil fuel energy. The topic presented by our third speaker opens up conversation to potential and feasible sources of energy. One specific type that was stressed by the speaker was biomass and its benefit to nations with high demands for energy consumption. Biomass is known for being highly sustainable, as it does not create emissions that harm the planet, and it is fast growing as it is economically feasible and provides food and energy for consumption. In addition to being classified as an energy crop, it enriches oil, prevents erosion, retains water, and creates food and animal feed. It serves as a multipurpose crop that is environmentally sustainable, which is why people are pushing for a wider usage of this plant.

Security Report April-May, 2015


In the reporting period April-May 2015, there were 44 incidents with casualties. The total number of victims was 127 (injured 93 and killed 34). For the next two months, the number of incidents may decrease due to an upcoming peace talk and a Ramadan ceasefire.


Spate of Bomb Attacks in Yala

On Thursday, 14 May at around 7:30 P.M., explosions occurred in fourteen locations around Muang district, Yala province. These surprise attacks did not result in any deaths, but left 18 injured. All the bombing spots were random and it appeared that some of them did not intend to attack people directly. The bomb attacks continued on the morning of the next day and were ongoing in Muang district until Saturday, 16 May; however, further injuries were reported in only three other incidents, which resulted in a total of three injured, one from each location. The first of the three locations was a tea room around the entrance of Supranee road near Trimitr Temple in Muang district. The tea shop was attacked by a bomb thrown from two insurgents on a motorcycle at approximately 6:00 A.M. on Friday. Another bomb was detonated from inside a refrigerator in a grocery shop on Soi 12 Pangmuang 4 road at about 7:09 A.M. while the third bomb detonated at 7:33 A.M. near a T-junction in tambon Sateng-nok health promotion hospital. The series of bomb attacks ended with a total of twenty one injured, but no fatalities.

[Photo No Longer Available, Please Refer to Map on]

*Locations for which sufficient data does not exist to pinpoint an exact location are marked with a star, indicating general vicinity in which the incident occurred.


Firearm Attacks Responsible for Most Fatalities

From April until May 2015, the highest death rate came from gun attacks, while bomb explosions had a more destructive effect, causing higher injury numbers. Most of the targets in bombings appeared to favour structures such as buildings and utility poles. The application of firearm attacks was varied; and included ambushing, following targets’ vehicles on a motorcycle for clear shots, or spraying bullets on targets.

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Burned After Shooting Incidents

One incident in April and another incident in May showed irregular violence occurred to victims. At about 6:00 P.M. on Sunday 12 April, insurgents raided a house in Norm Klao village in Sukhirin district, Narathiwat province. A man and his wife were shot dead in their house and their bodies were burnt after that. On Wednesday 6 May, another incident occurred at approximately 4:30 P.M. Militants sprayed bullets at a car, killing a couple and then burning them in Tan Yong village Tambon Ba Cho Bannangsata district of Yala province. No significant evidence was found in those fires and both incidents are assumed to frighten civilians in the area.


Males and Security Officers are Main Victims

Statistics from April – May 2015 showed that victims from all incidents within these two months were overwhelmingly male. In comparison to female victims, males were approximately four times more likely to be victims. The largest number of casualties was found to be security officers. Security officers in this report consist of several security groups namely, military, police, and defence volunteers due to a combined security system in the three Southern Border Provinces (SBP). Most of the security officers based in the SBP’s were male and this fact may affect the casualty rate since security officers were the largest proportion of victims.

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For further information on the insurgency-related attacks, please consult the incident map on the HDFF website. or
To request the original report complete with pictures, please e-mail us at

Chairman’s Circle 26 May 2015

ASEAN Economic Community:

Challenges and Opportunities for SME’s after the ASEAN Integration

May 26, 2015


          Human Development Forum Foundation (HDFF), in collaboration with The Asia Foundation, conducted the 2015-3 Chairman’s Circle on 26 May 2015 at the Aloft Hotel Bangkok under the theme of Challenges and Opportunities for SME’s after the ASEAN Integration. The opening remarks were delivered by the Chairman of HDFF, General (ret.) Bunchon Chawansin, and were followed by presentations from three distinguished panel speakers with extensive experience and expertise in academia and professional practice. The first speaker was Ms. Véronique Salze-Lozac’h, Senior Director, Economic Development and Chief Economist at The Asia Foundation. Mr. Matthieu Cognac, Youth Employment Specialist at International Labour Organization, was the second, and Dr. Suthikorn Kingkaew, Lecturer at Thammasat University, was the third speaker. The event was a half-day event moderated by HDFF Programme Officer, Mr. Adam Martin. The forum was attended by representatives of the foreign diplomatic, local academic, and regional private enterprise communities.



          In the first panel, Ms. Véronique Salze-Lozac’h discussed the potential effects of ASEAN integration on SME’s and hypothesized as to the roles of SME’s in this changing environment. The presentation showed decreasing trade between ASEAN and the US or EU, combined with increasing trade between ASEAN member countries in the past decade. Regional trade has become an important buffer against falling exports and vulnerability to global economic fluctuations. However, income inequalities and development disparities between each ASEAN country were identified as some of the major obstacles in creating fair competitive opportunities within the region. AEC was formed to provide integrated economic protection networks which also help SME’s to be able to expand their business in international trade by being subcontractors for domestic and foreign investors in the region. SME’s (or Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME)’s) are a huge part of the economic system with high possibility to grow and support sustainable economic development. The current feeling among SME’s indicates significant concern as to the effect of AEC 2015 economic integration, as individual SME’s express doubts and fears as to what the change will bring for them. According to Ms. Salze-Lozac’h, in order to receive more attention and participation from them, governments need to take an active role in promoting understanding of AEC to and their application to domestic policies in order to help SME’s develop their capacity to compete in a regional market. She argued that governments should provide access to finance, resources, information about foreign regulations and standards, networks in both domestic and regional, and public-private partnership opportunities. Perhaps most importantly, Ms. Salze-Lozac’h recommended that voices from SME’s should to be taken into account when creating new policies.

          Mr. Matthieu Cognac started the second panel on the topic of youth unemployment in ASEAN. The unemployment rate, especially among the youth, can be a crucial factor which can generate conflict and crisis, as evidenced in the recent case of Arab Spring. More educated youths are entering into the labour market every year only to face difficulties in finding proper jobs for their degrees. Inequality in society and a gap between the rich and the poor had escalated the situation into demonstrations and civil unrest in several Arab states. In ASEAN, although there are approximately 7.6 million unemployed youth, the unemployment rate is lower than in the Middle East. Notably within ASEAN, employment for women has shown a positive shift with the unemployment rate for female workers showing a marked decline in recent years. ASEAN integration will create more opportunities for employment with its promise of the free flow of skilled labour and the transfer of knowledge and technology. Mr. Cognac suggested that even though there is a good start with a greater number of employees covered by legal pensions, ASEAN should concern itself more with social protection especially considering its susceptibility to natural disasters. As (M)SME’s account for a huge portion of the overall economy, local labourers will be crucial resources for transnational businesses. To fully benefit from the economic integration, challenges for labours such as income inequality and minimum wages, access to skill training- especially in agriculture, career guide, and an appropriate social protection, will need to be sufficiently addressed.

          Dr. Suthikorn Kingkaew, the final panel speaker, described how ASEAN integration has already begun in practice, yet gradual implementation of the complete integration plan will take time. He emphasized ASEAN integration as not only an economic one, but also political-security and socio-cultural pillar, which cannot be entirely distinguished from the economic one. ASEAN encompasses a huge amount of cultural diversity and to do business with other ASEAN countries or even across cultures within the country, obstacles, especially language must be overcome. The private sector can expand its business to a wider market on the regional level by providing other languages in their services or by opening local branches in other countries. Dr. Suthikorn noted that Thai SME’s may struggle as Thailand’s proficiency in English ranks last in ASEAN, and English is expected to become the de facto language of ASEAN. Additionally, logistical links between countries within ASEAN still lags behind what is needed for optimal conditions. Projects such as the “Asia Land Bridge”, the project of infrastructure constructions to connect each country with land transportation, are being implemented to address these issues with assistance from other regional partners such as ASEAN+6 (which consists of ASEAN and Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea) and the Greater Mekong Sub-region (Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam). Dr. Suthikorn also addressed major concerns among SME’s that they will not be able to compete with large corporations that already have a regional network, as well as greater resources. Dr. Suthikorn expresses his belief that SME’s will be able to survive, and in fact thrive, as large corporations will still rely on them as essential links in their supply chains. In concurring with Ms. Salze-Lozac’h, Dr. Suthikorn restated that differences in infrastructure, political instability, regulatory issues, corruption, cost of labour, etc., among various ASEAN nations will continue to be a major obstacle in the regions integration plan.

Policy Recommendations

          The forum explored ways and means to better prepare ASEAN countries in dealing with both economic opportunities and challenges in the wake of ASEAN integration process. The suggested recommendations included:

  • ASEAN countries should emphasize positive impacts from the integration on daily life activities of general public to increase attention and participation from individuals and (M)SME’s;
  • ASEAN members should continuingly implement their promises especially on AEC to their domestic policies to reassure the strong will and capability of regional cooperation, as the integration has practically already begun;
  • ASEAN governments should provide accesses to information and connections to (M)SME’s (e.g. international partnership, public-private partnership) as sources for (M)SME’s to develop their capability to compete in regional market.
  • ASEAN members states should enforce stronger regulations on transparency to avoid unofficial fees especially cross-border trade.