New documentary tells 160 years of Thailand’s economic history

BANGKOK, Sept. 20, 2017 : “Thailand: An economy on the path of globalization” , a new documentary series, produced by Don’t Blink Co., Ltd., details the history of Thailand’s economic development over the past 160 years, since the signing of the “Bowring Treaty” with Great Britain in 1855, which opened the country to international trade and the modernization that resulted from the industrial revolution.

The new documentary series produced in Bangkok by Laurent Malespine, with the support of Siam Commercial Bank PCL, Thailand’s first indigenous bank, tells the story through interviews with 21 Thai and foreign personalities, economists, historians, business leaders and policy makers.

The list of interviewees includes Anand Panyarachun, a former Thai Prime Minister; Ammar Siamwalla, an economist at the Thailand Development Research Institute; Andrew Sheng, the author of “From Asian to Global Financial Crisis”; Surin Pitsuwan, the former secretary general of ASEAN; Dhanin Chearavanont, the head of the Charoen Pokphand Group, Chirayu Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, the Director-General of the Crown Property Bureau; Khunying Jada Wattanasiritham, the former CEO of Siam Commercial Bank; and Philip Bowring, the former editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review.

The documentary is also generously illustrated by numerous photographs, film archives, and documents, many of which are little known.

Malespine, who is fluent in Thai, has lived in Bangkok for more than 30 years. His work experience includes over 10 years of reporting for leading international financial news agencies. He was inspired to write and produce this documentary when the severe floods the country suffered in 2011 affected the global supply of hard disk drives and automobile parts.

“When I saw the impact of the floods on the global supply chain, I felt there was a need to tell the story of how this country had gone from a mostly agricultural society to a multi-faceted and fully globalized economy,” said Malespine, now the managing director of Don’t Blink Co.,Ltd, a media company. “Doing so, we also tell the story of how globalization and this closely integrated world is reflected everywhere.”

The series includes five 50-minute episodes. The documentary’s premiere broadcast started this week on Thai PBS, the country’s public broadcasting service. Reruns are already scheduled on the educational channel of local pay TV operator TrueVisions and on a channel of the Nation Multimedia Group. The series is initially only available in Thai but the producers are open to international distribution.

Starting in episode one by describing how the Treaty of Friendship and Commerce between Great Britain and Siam, as the country was then known, concluded between His Majesty King Mongkut and British envoy Sir John Bowring, in 1855 opened the country to global trade, the series goes on in subsequent episodes describing the impact of the two world wars and the 1929 Great Depression on the country, the appearance of private enterprise, the start of economic planning in the 1960s amid the context of war in neighboring Vietnam, the start of the export oriented boom in the 1980s, the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and the setup of closer economic cooperation in the ASEAN region. The fifth and final episode looks at the opportunities and challenges the country’s economy will face over the next 20 years.

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