In conversation with
In conversation with Mr. Suradech Taweesaengsakulthai
President | Cho Thavee Dollasien Public Company Limited
FDI Spotlight: Do you believe now is the right time to be exploring the investment potential of Thailand through the pages of Newsweek?
Mr. Suradech Taweesaengsakulthai: For the economy today, I think the meaning of now is about the future period. It’s the right time but maybe this year is a little bit too fast, because the situation in Thailand is not fully settled. There is still some shaking under the ground in Thailand from past events. This year is the year that the decision for Thailand will be made if we can move forward or not.
What would you consider to be the most significant milestones that you’ve encountered?
Mr. Suradech Taweesaengsakulthai: We try to employ the best practices for our company and shareholders as we are listed on the stock exchange. We want to be able to develop ourselves along with the city around us including the people in it. Our company is collecting funds for the people to be able ask the government to let us develop our city by ourselves. We don’t want to have to have our funds come from the government. That is what we’ve done now for the last two years moving forward. We want to be able to show what the Thai nation is capable of so that others can see. Once we have proven this to be possible then everyone will stand up and develop their own city by themselves and the whole country will move up. Currently, everyone waits for the Federal Government to take action but we want to show that we can do it on our own. Please understand that we are not against the government. We obey and respect the government but would like to develop our city by ourselves. This could have a very strong impact on the Thai society as everyone will stand up and try to walk by themselves. You don’t need to let the government turn on the fan for you. You stand up and turn on the switch. Even if you’re hot, you have to walk to turn on the fan by yourself.
To what extent with your ambitious plan do you think that you can actually bring Bangkok to the same standard as the cosmopolitan cities?
Mr. Suradech Taweesaengsakulthai: Our target is to bring up the GDP in Thailand. Here, we call it GPP which stands for Gross Provincial Product. We want to bring a respectable GPP to the developing nations and areas. The target is $12,500. However we are not only focused on the GDP, but also the GDH, which stands for Gross Domestic Happiness. We don’t want only financial success for everyone, we want to balance it with the quality of life.
With this in mind, huge infrastructure developments are required. With your expertise and logistics in transport, what are your plans to create this interconnectivity hub?
Mr. Suradech Taweesaengsakulthai: The first plan is to create a better transportation line. The government has already approved our plan of five lines of buses. Then we asked them about making changes to the trams. Now it’s in the stage of studying how to change the busses to the trams to help increase capacity. Currently when people come to Bangkok you have to take a taxi and then the sky train or whatever to get somewhere. Ideally in a well-planned city you will only have to use one mode of transportation. All of the activities of the city will be on one line: the university, government center, department stores, sports center, education, and everything. This is our plan. People won’t need to use their cars, as they can rely fully on public transport. We want to prepare a city and prevent it from being like Bangkok where transportation is crowded and inefficient. Bangkok is expanding quickly and proper transportation is having a hard time keeping up. It is growing first and then trying to figure out how to connect everything together with a suitable transportation network. It will cost a lot of money to connect their subway and everything but it’s a waste and loss of productivity. If you have a good transportation system, that means the business can grow from the transportation rather than the businesses grow first and then the transportation come later. We call it TOD, transit oriented development.
You must be looking for partners on this project for investments. Considering your experience in partnership with both French companies, German companies, Japanese companies, what are the values that you’re looking for in a partner? Is it more technical knowhow, capital? What are the specific values?
Mr. Suradech Taweesaengsakulthai: For partners we have some for technical knowledge and others for financial backing. We work with a European company, that we cannot name, that has the technical knowhow. They provide us the technology and knowledge of building electric trams, and then we will assemble the trams by ourselves here in Thailand. This makes the cost of the project much cheaper.
For finances, we have people that are willing to issue the money. They want to do something like crowd funding and we need about 10 billion baht for this project. 6 billion baht from has already come from investors in Bangkok and we will most likely secure the rest from traditional loans from Thai banks. There have been talks with Chinese investors but I feel as though our financials should be self-sustained in the country. Technical know how from abroad, finances from our country.