January 12–13, 1999
Co-hosted by the World Bank and
The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
Abstracts of Papers Presented
Thailand's Urban System Under Globalization
Utis Kaothien and Douglas Webster, National Economic and Social Development Board
This paper opens by describing the rapidly changing urban landscape in Thailand. In response to FDI flows and government policy, along with motorization and technological change, urbanization on Thailand's eastern seaboard is increasing rapidly, while city densities fall and the extended Bangkok conurbation expands. While foreign investment flows have been accompanied by some environmental and community degradation, they have also created jobs and economic growth. Non-FDI capital flows contributed to a property price bubble, but have helped develop the center-city tertiary sector. Other factors connected with central government that will have an effect on urban development include technological advance (including the availability of mass rail transit), decentralization, fiscal policies, rural bias in policy and regional policy, telecommunications, aviation, environment strategies, public-private cooperation and industrial policies. The larger urban governments within the Extended Bangkok Region also have a significant role to play in making the region more attractive to residents and investors—in particular through sanitation schemes, planning, active urban development programs and support for mass transit. The paper concludes that experience of Thailand's eastern seaboard suggests the need for extended regional governance of conurbations, a new understanding of the geography of poverty and the environment, greater public-private cooperation and regulation of capital flows.