“A Wonderful City for Tourists, not for Bangkokians!”
By Fatih Eren | 24.03.2011
A very interesting city, Bangkok, which was the capital city of Thailand, has been examined in this volume. Thailand is located at the heart of Southeast Asia. The country has a 68,2 million population and 6 millions of this population is living in Bangkok. This city has started to experience a different globalisation process after 1997.
There have been 3 important breakpoints in the near history of Thailand. First breakpoint was the local financial crisis which occurred in 1997. After this local crisis, Thai Government has liberalized the country’s financial markets; as a result, foreign investors started to be very effective in Thai stock market after this date. Second breakpoint was the tsunami disaster which hit all the coastal settlements of Southeast Asia in 2004; about 180,000 people died as a result of this disaster in the region. Third breakpoint was the military coup which happened in 2006 in Thailand; this military intervention has divided the country as the defenders of the King (i.e.Bhumibol Adulyadej) and the defenders of the prime minister (i.e.Thaksin Shinawatra). A political instability process has started after this military coup in the country.
Global investors have been interested in 3 different type of investments after the beginning of financial liberalizations in Thailand. Firstly, some global investors were invested in financial sectors such as banking, insurance and asset management. Secondly, some other global investors, especially from Japan, were invested in manufacturing sectors; these investors established many industrial manufacturing complex in the country, especially in Bangkok city (e.g. metal, machinery and transportation equipments, electronics and electrical appliance, paper, plastic, etc.). Thirdly, some international hypermarket chains (i.e. carrefour and big c.) were invested in the country’s retail sector; the sectorial decisions of these two international hypermarket chains changed the structure of the retail market from oligopoly to duopoly.
I could say that Bangkok was not subject to a strong FDI flow at the moment, despite the realisation of several financial liberalizations in the country. However, this city was going to be subject to a powerful global concern as soon as the political instability has finalized in Thailand. This was the main reason which motivated me to examine Bangkok as a global city in this volume. Developments which the city experienced in the last 5 years was giving strong signals about the future developments in the city.
The first signal was about the touristic potential of Bangkok. The city had a long-established history and had a mystical culture. Again, the city was providing an entertaining life to its visitors. These specific characteristics started to attract many tourists into the city from all over the world, especially in the last 10 years. The second signal was about the medical potential of the city. Medical and health services were of well-quality and cheap in comparison with many other cities in the world. For example, a person could undergo a heart surgery paying just $25.000 in a hospital of Bangkok; this person had to pay at least $200,000 for the same surgery in US. Therefore, many people have started to visit this city to benefit from its quality medical services recently. The third signal was about the agricultural potential of the city. Some global investors who were displaying activity in energy sectors have started to be interested in rural areas of Bangkok because these rural areas were carrying a high potential to grow non-food crops, which could be used for the production of second-generation bio-fuel energy. Bangkok was a successful city with respect to grow and export agricultural food products to other countries and so this city could also reap a great success with respect to grow and export agricultural non-food energy crops in the near future.
- The impact of global concern for Bangkok: Analysis
Before all else, I would like to talk about the possible positive contributions of global concerns towards Bangkok in the near future.
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* Published in the Fifth Issue of Political Reflection Magazine (PR).