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close this bookThe Impact of Technology on Human Rights: Global Case-studies (UNU, 1993, 322 pages)
close this folder3. Technology and human rights: critical implications for Thailand
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentHuman rights
View the documentTechnology
View the documentImplications
View the documentRural development
View the documentAgriculture
View the documentIndustrialization
View the documentUrbanization
View the documentEnvironmental concerns
View the documentThe socialization process
View the documentAssessment
View the documentAppendix 1
View the documentNotes

Introduction

The expansion of the local economy is estimated at between 9.5 per cent and 10 per cent this year... a great deal of momentum was created in the past two years of superstrong growth and this is propelling the economy along in the current year.2

This headline from a local newspaper in Thailand in mid-1990 illustrates the buoyancy of the national economy and the positive trend of economic development, as seen in figure 1. Thailand has currently one of the fastest growing economies in the world. One of the pervasive preoccupations of Thai policy makers is to estimate if and when Thailand will be classified as a newly industrialized country (NIC), in view of the 10 per cent average GDP growth of the past three years.

How does this position reflect the situation with regard to human rights in the country and to its nexus with technology?

On scrutiny, the situation is more ambivalent than an initial impression would reveal. The incidence of poverty is high in the country, particularly in the north-east, while income distribution leaves much to be desired. This is elaborated in table 1. The cynic may well point out that the glowing statistics, as well as the technological inputs into the growing economy, neglect the underlying social issues involved. If wealth has really increased, it has tended to accumulate in urban areas, in the hands of the few, rather than to be dispersed in rural areas where the majority of people live.

It is precisely this ambiguous situation that calls for an appraisal of the linkage between human rights and technology in developing Thailand. It is closely interrelated with issues of rural and agricultural development, industrialization, urbanization, environmental concerns, and the socialization process - matters of concern to the ordinary people who are at the core of this study.


Fig. 1. GDP growth, Thailand (after Bangkok Post Mid-year Economic Review, 1990, p. 11).

Table 1. Income share by quintile group of population (percentage of total income)

Quintile

1975/76

1980/81

1985/86

1

49.26

51.47

55.63

Top 10%

33.40

35.44

39.15

2nd 10%

15.86

16.04

16.48

2

20.96

20.64

19.86

3

14.00

13.38

12.09

4

9.73

9.10

7.87

5

6.05

5.41

4.55

2nd bottom 10%

3.62

3.28

2.75

Bottom 10%

2.43

2.13

1.80

Total share

100.00

100.00

100.00

Gini coefficient

0.426

0.453

0.500

Variance of logarithm of income

0.530

0.602

0.737

Source: Suganya Hutaserani and Somchai Jitsuchon, Thailand's Income Distribution and Poverty Profile and Their Current Situations (Thailand Development Research Institute, Bangkok, 1988), p. 17.