Leading the retreat was the Thai and Minister of Digital Economy and Society, Dr Pichet Durongkaveroj.
Joining the event was Asean Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi.
“This meeting will be an important stage that Ministry of Digital Economy will show the potential of Thailand in the digital field in the Asean region, ready to drive the Asean region into a fully digital economy which if this adjustment occurs soon, it would have a positive effect on the economy of the entire region, especially Thailand, to benefit directly and ready to create prosperity for the people in a sustainable way,” Dr Pichet said.
The meeting was held to unveil five key concepts that are to push the Asean region into the digital economy era, he noted.
The meeting also aimed to promote and support the role of Thailand in the Asean region, to assure that Thailand is ready to host the Ministerial Meeting and elevate the role of Thailand to become a leader in information and communication technology in Asean, Dr Pichet noted.
“This includes to allow the management of meetings to be effective at international standard, to proceed with well, smooth, and in respect of and in accordance with international relations practices and with the guidelines and formalities of the Asean Meeting, as well as to impress the participants, show a good image of Thailand in hosting the conference.
“The purpose of this informal digital ministerial meeting of the Asean Digital Ministers’ Retreat also includes promoting and supporting the tourism and economy of Thailand as a whole,” he added.
Thailand assumed the Asean Chairmanship for 2019 late last year after an official handover from Singapore, which served as the seat of Asean affairs for 2018.
The move to hold Asean meetings in Thailand this year follows the international debacle of 10 years ago, when red-shirt protesters stormed the Asean convention at the Royal Cliff Beach hotel in Pattaya amid the political unrest at the time, forcing the international delegates to flee by being airlifted by helicopter to safety to a nearby military airbase. No delegates were hurt in the evacuation.
Meanwhile, Dr Pichet noted that the retreat aimed to be a forum for Asean digital development with input from by the ministers of digital economy of all 10 Asean member states, “and is an important stage of Thailand to continue its position in the role of the Asean Chair in 2019, as well as a space to show the readiness to move towards the digital leader in the Asean region, for pushing the Asean region into full digital economy under the Asean Digital Agility 2019,” he said.
Dr Pichet defined five key concepts of the Asean Digital Agility Concept 2019 as:
• Cybersecurity, to enhance the readiness and capacity to handle cyber threats such as Cyber War Game activities, cyber personnel training.
• Connectivity and Mobility, focusing on data network linkage and the movement of people in the Asean region, such as submarine cable linking, the preparation of Asean biometric visas, international call rates (IMR Single Tariff).
• Smart City, to continue the implementation of intelligent city development in the Asean region, including Asean intelligent city meetings, the creation of intelligent city information platforms
• Digital Economy, to enhance the availability of digital ecosystems to attract investment in Asean, including digital information governance, privacy protection, online trade, Asean Single Window, among other aspects.
• Manpower and Society Development, to develop the knowledge and abilities of people in the Asean region through digital activities such as Asean Startup, Hackathon, Social Media Guidelines Review, eSport, and so on.
“This stage will be a major turning point for digital leadership roles in the Asean region, to develop in various fields that it will demonstrate the potential and readiness which Thailand has. These things will help to build confidence among Asean members that Thailand has both potential and readiness to become Asean Chair, best of all,” Dr Pichet concluded.
Asean Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi, who formerly severed as the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Brunei, noted that in his opinion that the meeting was a success as the Asean members agreed to be more proactive and work together to address the issue of cybersecurity, especially in the realm of the digital economy.
“It is important that we should work together to integrate Asean economy to make it competitive. We estimate the digital economy will increase the GDP of Asean by 1 trillion (US dollars) by 2025, and we are working very hard for it,” he said.
He also pointed out that the Asean Economic Community (AEC) had been going on very well since it was established in 2015.
“The next step of AEC is to make it more competitive. We looking at issues such as IP (intellectual property), and to make sure that SMEs are not left behind,” Mr Lim said.