On September 9th, 2015, the Ash Center hosted Dr. Veerathai Santiprabhob as part of the annual Thailand@Harvard Lecture series in partnership with the Harvard University Thai Studies program. Addressing a packed audience in Bell Hall, Dr. Veerathai offered reflections on what the global community can expect and learn from the country’s reform efforts in the wake of Thailand’s ongoing political upheavals.
Michael Herzfeld, the Director of Thai Studies Program at the Harvard Asia Center and Jay Rosengard, the Academic Director of the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia at the Ash Center provided opening remarks and introduced Dr. Veerathai, a Harvard University alum with a PhD in Economics and a career spanning the public and private sectors. When Dr. Veerathai assumes the post of Governor of the Bank of Thailand in October 2015, he will become the Central Bank’s youngest leader in four decades. Previously, Dr. Veerathai served as the executive vice president of the Stock Exchange of Thailand and an economist for the International Monetary Fund.
Dr. Veerathai first described the need for multi-dimensional reform, and then presented an overview of reform initiatives now being designed and implemented in Thailand in the areas of macroeconomic management, infrastructure development, state-owned enterprise governance and operations, corruption, human trafficking, and the political system.
After explaining the objectives and nature of these reform initiatives, Dr. Veerathai also highlighted challenges in moving from the design to the implementation stage, especially in the current non-democratic environment and amidst slow economic growth. He also noted the need to increase engagement of all stakeholders in the current reform process, and identified key issues not addressed in the government’s reform program, particularly civil service and education reform, as well as decentralization.
Dr. Veerathai’s talk was the 5th event in the Thailand@Harvard Lecture Series, which addresses a range of topics as Thailand becomes increasingly important in both Asian and global affairs.