The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2019 published by the World Economic Forum shows the ASEAN collectively scores 3.8 out of 7 on factors that contribute to the environmental sustainability of the T&T industry. In spite of that, the Region has an advantage over North Africa in price competitiveness.
All things considered, Singapore is ranked number 17 in the world. Malaysia comes in at 29, Thailand 31, Indonesia 40, and Vietnam 63. Brunei Darussalam ranks number 72, and the Philippines 75 while Lao PDR and Cambodia take number 97 and 98, respectively. Myanmar is not analyzed in the 140- country/economy report. Interesting results:
Environmental Sustainability, and Natural Resources
Individually Thailand, Indonesia, Lao PDR, and Cambodia score lower than the regional average of 3.8 on factors contributing to the sustainable development of the T&T sector. Interestingly Thailand gains 4.8 in natural resources management, outscoring the global average after its decision to close the famous Maya Bay to allow coral restoration and marine life recovery in the Phi Phi Islands National Park.
Air Transport Infrastructure, and Human Resources
Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand also outscore the global average in air transport infrastructure, and human resources/labor market. However, there’s still room for improvement in their ground and port infrastructure.
Business Environment, Safety and Security, Health and Hygiene
Cambodia fares badly in world average rankings, especially in infrastructure and factors contributing to the business environment, safety and security, as well as health and hygiene.
The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report provides a valuable tool for policy-makers and businesses to anticipate emerging trends in global T&T industry. For the ASEAN Region, it’s a key engine of growth. The role of tourism is obvious in the Thai economy. The country saw a record 38.3 million tourists in 2018, up 7.5% from 2017. Another 41 million visitors are expected in 2019. Meantime, a Mastercard survey placed Bangkok number one city on the Global Destination Cities Index for the third time in 2018.
Our warmest congratulations to architects from the ASEAN on winning ten A+ Awards in architecture for 2019. Their outstanding works include six projects from Thailand, plus one each from Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Story: Samutcha Viraporn / Photo: Architizer
Hosted by the online architecture community Architizer.com, the A+ Awards come in two categories; “Jury Winners” which are handpicked by reputable judges, and “Popular Choice Winners” judged by public votes. The ten A+ Award winners from the ASEAN are:
Commercial / Office – Low Rise (1-4 Floors)
IDIN Architects Office / Designed by IDIN Architects, Thailand
Popular Choice Winner
The home of IDIN Architects Co, Ltd is arranged in three parts; the office, the business owner’s residential unit, and a café open to the public. It’s a layout that strikes the right balance between privacy and the busy movement in Bangkok’s Ratchadapisek neighborhood. The low-rise building sits peacefully ensconced in a lush oasis. Its blackened exterior is covered in Japanese Yakisugi, cypress plank cladding traditionally charred to enhance a natural appeal. The café on the ground floor boasts a touch of Modernism that’s evident in a beautiful mix of steel, glass and concrete component parts.
Commercial / Showrooms
Organicare Showroom / Designed by Tropical Space, Vietnam
Popular Choice Winner
Tropical Space is an architectural firm expert in old-fashioned brick construction. Their project involved converting a 1975 brick building into a modern showroom for fish sauces and homegrown brands of organic products. Steel frames and bricks are the main materials used to improve interior and exterior design, as well as create shelving to suit every display need.
Concepts / Plus-Architecture + For Good
Heartware Network/ Designed byDP Architects, Singapore
Popular Choice Winner
Promoting team spirits among youth organization volunteers, the design by DP Architects creates a platform of cooperation and change in behavior conducive to a positive environment that lies at the core of the Heartware Network. Its engagement ideas have enabled the charitable youth organization to connect with more than 1,500 young people per year.
Concepts / Plus-Architecture + Living Small
3500-Millimeter House / Designed by AGo Architects, Indonesia
Popular Choice Winner
A building 3.5 meters wide and 17 meters long is home to an architect, his wife and a son. The house walls, staircase and built-in furniture share the rigid supporting structures that enclose them. The façade that stands facing West is built of perforated metal sheets and polycarbonates to protect from the summer sun. Clever design ensures the interior living space is well lit and airy.
Concepts / Plus-Architecture + Renovation
Kloem Hostel / Designed by IF (Integrated Field), Thailand
Kloem Hostel is built by combining three adjacent old houses into a single entity. The two Thai houses at either end are beautifully renovated. The building at the center transforms into a loft that serves as common area and relaxed hangout reminiscent of the Thai lifestyle in former times.
Details / Plus-Architecture + Facades
Little Shelter Hotel / Designed by Department of Architecture, Thailand
Popular Choice Winner
A small hotel in Chiang Mai boasts a façade that’s reminiscent of fine crafts. The calm and beautiful face gets its inspiration from wooden roof tiles that are symbolic of Northern architecture in olden days. A reinterpretation of handicrafts in a modern context, the intricate design of wood and polycarbonates adds a unique charm to the principal front overlooking a street.
Hospitality / Hotels & Resorts
Bunjob House: House of Flow / Designed by NPDA Studio, Thailand
The Bunjob House is a vacation destination nestled in a family-owned coconut grove on beautiful Pha-ngan Island in the Gulf of Thailand. Its façade consists of curved concrete slabs that draw cool breezes from the ocean resulting in thermal comfort in the interior living spaces. The slabs also protect the building during a thunderstorm. Casings made of coconut trees leave their marks on the concrete texture that blends into the natural surroundings.
Residential / Apartments
Hachi Serviced Apartment / Designed by Octane Architect & Design, Thailand
Popular Choice Winner
The project’s most outstanding feature is the façade that’s designed to promote a healthy home life despite being in an apartment complex. The exterior architecture of the building reflects well on the type of design, balance and symmetry of the interior space.
Residential / Private House (XL >5000 sq ft)
Cloister House / Designed by Formwerkz Architects, Malaysia
The design gets its inspiration from the courtyard house typical of long established Chinese architecture. Adapted to blend with modern tropical style, the layout consists of a framework of nine regularly spaced rooms partially open to connect with the outdoors. The building in Johor state, southern Malaysia occupies 45,000 square feet.
Residential / Interiors
Y/A/O Residence / Designed by Octane Architect & Design, Thailand
Popular Choice Winner
Increased natural light provides the perfect focal point in the interior reminiscent of the house with a courtyard. It’s a great way to let light create depth in the interior space. The project consists of three separate buildings; a two-level house, guest accommodation building, and car garage.
Located on the southern coast of Bali, Canggu is known for beautiful rolling rice fields and the roar of the surf. The fast growing village is roughly half-an-hour drive from the upscale resort area at Seminyak that lies further south. Looking for good food, good vibe? Here are ten best places to eat in Canggu, from trendy café to Balinese style restaurants to cool spots to post on Instagram.
One of the favorite hangouts in Canggu, Café Organic means exactly that. Good food comes from natural farming methods. Feel the atmosphere. The interior space in shades of white is adorned with lush tropical gardens. There are healthy desserts to satisfy any sweet tooth.
A restaurant with beautiful rice field views, Warung Gouthe is well known for its home-style brochettes. The skewered meat or fish chunks grilled or roasted to perfection come in a tray with an excellent side dish of salad. You will love panini, a sandwich made with toasted Italian bread and the tantalizing aroma of a country style kitchen.
A favorite place serving breakfast and lunch, Cabina Bali is about good food, great company, and the opportunity to share the happiest moments in life. Here, food comes in a floating basket, so you don’t even have to get out of the pool. Girls in bikinis love it for the Gram.
Calm down and relax at Parachute as you take in the view of surrounding rice fields and lush vegetable gardens. If you prefer to eat alfresco, there are parachute canopies for that. Inside, coffee smells like heaven, and the aroma of baked goods will simply overwhelm you.
My Warung Canggu
Nothing beats a steak grilled to perfection. My Warung Canggu is a place to give yourself a nice treat or the ultimate indulgence. It goes together well with artistic and definitely exciting interior design. There’s even a confession room in case you think you’ve eaten too much.
It’s an inconvenient truth that doesn’t bode well for the future. But let’s face reality in an honest way. The Global Wealth Report 2018 published by the Credit Suisse Research Institute showed Thailand scoring 90.2 on the Gini coefficient (also the Gini index), making it a country with the widest income inequality in the ASEAN, and one of four worst performers on the world chart, which include Ukraine (95.5), Kazakhstan (95.2), and Egypt (90.9).
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The Gini coefficient, named after Italian demographer Corrado Gini, is a statistic measure of the degree of inequality represented by a set of values from zero to 1, or 100 depending, zero being perfect equality in either income or wealth. Hence, the higher the values, the greater the wealth is being more unevenly distributed.
The Credit Suisse report visualizes the global wealth distribution in the form of a wealth pyramid, which places adults in one of four wealth bands: under-10,000 USD, between 10,000 and 100,000 USD, between 100,000 and 1 million USD, and over-1 million USD.
In Thailand, the distribution of adults by wealth range is heavily concentrated at the bottom end of the wealth spectrum. Precisely, 91.7% of adults belong in the under-10,000 USD wealth band, 7.5% in the between 10,000 and 100,000 USD band, and 0.7% in the between 100,000 and 1 million USD band. Only 0.1% are members of the over-1 million USD wealth range. This translates into a high income inequality value of 90.2 on the Gini coefficient.
As for Asia, there is a substantial degree of polarization between high-income countries (Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore) and the low-income countries (including Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Vietnam). On average the Asia-Pacific region (excluding India and China) has a high income inequality value of 90.1 on the Gini index.
Across the ASEAN membership, Indonesia comes in second at 84.0, followed by the Philippines at 82.6 on the Gini index. Like in Thailand, only 0.1% of Indonesian and Philippine adult populations are members of the over-1 million USD wealth range.
Myanmar has a Gini index value of 58.2, making it a country with the narrowest income gap in the ASEAN. Interestingly, 98.9% of its adult population belongs in the low-income wealth band with 0% in the 100,000 USD range and beyond.
In Singapore, only 13.8% of its adult population are members of the under-10,000 USD wealth range, while 38.2% belong in the between 10,000 and 100,000 USD range, and the majority 44% in the between 100,000 and 1 million USD wealth band. Its income inequality value on the Gini index is 75.8.
The Gini coefficient shows the statistical dispersion of income or wealth among the citizens of a country. It’s the most common method of measuring inequality. The scale ranges from zero to 1, or 100 depending. A Gini coefficient of zero refers to perfect equality in the data being analyzed, while 1 (or 100) means there’s a maximum inequality. Gini values are key to understanding a wealth pattern that gives us an idea where to start to tackle the problem.
Southeast Asia is renowned for many joyful and exuberant festivities. For the remainder of 2018, it’s worth checking out these highly visible public and social occasions.
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Living ASEAN has put together five favorite hangouts for you to pick, from art and culture to festivals and go-to party destinations. If you’re ready, let the journey begin.
Bangkok Art Biennale 2018
Bangkok, Thailand / October 19, 2018 – February 3, 2019
Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 is Thailand’s first international art show featuring works by renowned artists from across the globe including Yayoi Kusama, Marina Abramovic, Yoshitomo Nara, Elmgreen & Dragset, Choi Jeong Hwa, Wisut Ponnimit, Kawita Vatanajyankur, and Lee Bul. The four-month festival will see many exhibitions being held at thriving art scenes across the capital from Buddhist temples to historic places along the River Chao Phrya, even the busy commercial district on Sukhumvit Road. Precisely, it’s aimed at making Bangkok a world art destination.
Bagan, Myanmar / October 20, 2018 – April 10, 2019
Imagine you could fly. The hot air balloon ride promises to be an inspiring experience in Bagan. It’s an interesting way to see the ancient city as you drift over the vast archeological site in that’s home to more than 2,000 Buddhist shrines in central Myanmar. The balloon season starts October 20 and lasts until next April. Because only 22 balloons are allowed each day, it’s good to make reservations in advance so that you don’t miss out on early morning flights. Take in the view over a cradle of civilization that began in the early eleventh century. The Old Bagan landscape is gorgeous at sunrise.
Ubud Writers and Readers Festival
Bali, Indonesia / October 24-28
There’s more to the Indonesian archipelago than volcanic mountains, beaches and coral reefs. Nestled in the uplands of Bali, Ubud is a town with a quiet beauty that’s widely known for traditional crafts and performing arts. Every year writers, thinkers, as well as visual and performing artists converge on the town to participate in the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, which is scheduled for October 24-28. The event in now into its 15th year.
Cambodian Water Festival – Bon Om Touk
Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Cambodia / November 21-23
The Cambodian Water Festival or Bon Om Touk is celebrated on November 21-23, which coincides with the end of the rainy season based on the lunar calendar. The occasion symbolizes the abundant life that rivers bring. Cities and towns across the country join in the season of festivity, but the biggest celebration takes place in the capital. The water festival culminates in a boat race on the River Tonle Sap that runs through Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The rowing boats are a legacy from old-time naval warfare and represent the passing of knowledge from past to present generations.
In a mood for partying? Come December 1 Singapore’s Siloso Beach will play host to the largest dusk-to-dawn beach festival with plenty of water activities. The event is much sought after by electronic music fans looking forward to dancing the night away. The fun event organized by Zouk nightclub is now in its 18th year. This year’s festival features the music band Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, number 2 on DJ Mag’s Top 100 list. Partying starts at nightfall and continues until the morning after. So dance till you drop!
Indonesia is home to a wealth of decorative arts and crafts, from the fascinating world of batik to the iconic noodle bowl, aka chicken bowl.
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The latter invokes fond memories of Chinese migration into the Region in the early 1900’s. Over the years, social interactions have inspired many beautiful works of art by Indonesian designers, including Alvin T, and the fashion house Sejauh Mata Memandang.
One of the legacies of Chinese culture is the noodle bowl that’s ubiquitous throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. The round ceramic dish tells stories of Chinese experience as they migrated into Southeast Asia not so long ago. Interestingly enough, the iconic rooster design varies from one country to another.
The fashion house Sejauh Mata Memandang recently unveiled a fascinating fabric collection, aptly named Noodle Bowl. Its colors, and handcrafted patterns are inspired by the stories of social interaction that is a building block of Indonesian society.
Product designer Alvin T took the power of artistic storytelling up a notch. He made the rooster design more exciting for people who like to hang things on the hook. He called the new invention Ayam Hook, literally translated as Chicken Hook.
Despite the omnipresence of the Internet in society today, there seems to be a disconnect between the impact of pollution and access to the information needed to protect public health. Strange as it may sound. According to a 2017 estimate by the environmental tech company Plume Labs, only 0.246% of the earth has access to that vital information.
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As air pollution levels rise from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok to Yangon, and Phnom Penh to Jakarta, it’s wise to stay abreast of the latest developments. There are many websites and apps that measure the concentrations of both PM2.5 and PM10 and other pollutants. Here are three useful apps to check air quality wherever you are.
– Air Quality: Real-time AQI App –
The Real-time AQI app for Android and iOS shows air quality information from more than 10,000 monitoring stations in over 60 countries, including mainland China, Korea, Japan and countries across Southeast Asia. It provides, among other things, data about the concentrations of smaller airborne pollutants (PM2.5) and larger particulates (PM10). The former refers to extremely small particulate matter 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter or about 3% the diameter of human hair.
Updated hourly, the same information is linked to the developer website http://aqicn.org along with data on harmful gases and other readings such as temperatures, pressures, and humidity. The site also publishes visualized maps and protective mask recommendations from the global independent campaign organization Greenpeace. Get to know three types of masks to protect you from PM2.5 that ordinary surgical masks cannot. Whether it’s on the mobile app or the website, good infographics are worth a thousand words and a good place to start researching.
– Plume Air Report App –
Plume Air Report on the iPhone is a reporting and forecasting app that tracks real-time air pollution levels for every city in the world. The environmental tech company (website https://plumelabs.com) is the maker of “Flow,” a mobile personal air tracker that measures harmful pollutants indoors and outdoors. Real-time data including air quality indices, temperatures, UV levels, winds, and humidity are updated hourly along with pollution forecasts for the next 24 hours and statistics for the past 7 days. Flow makes it possible to track harmful air pollutants even in cities without AQI monitoring stations. The device is open for pre-order. Check the website for availability.
– Air Quality: AirVisual App –
AirVisual is a real-time and forecast air quality app that provides AQI indices for over 70 countries worldwide. Available on both Android and iOS, the free app gathers information from more than 9,000 locations via global networks of government monitoring stations and AirVisual’s own sensors. By giving historical, real-time, and forecast air pollution data, AirVisual is a pocket guide to avoiding harmful airborne particles. The AirVisual Earth Map is a good place to start tracking pollution levels and weather conditions with hourly updates.
In Southeast Asia, notably Bangkok, Chiangmai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Jakarta, thick haze of air pollution isn’t going away any time soon. As the fight for clean air continues, it pays to be in the know and avoid places with high concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10. The mobile apps mentioned above are three of many technologies designed to get the message across in the interest of public health and safety.
Air pollution is just one aspect of the wider environmental and health problems in major cities around the ASEAN. It’s a wake-up call among city dwellers from Bangkok to Jakarta to Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.
The crux of the matter is the high concentrations of small airborne particles (known as PM2.5) that enter the body through the nose and mouth. They pose greater health risks than larger particles (known as PM10), which the body is capable of eliminating through coughing, sneezing, and swallowing.
Technically speaking, PM2.5 refers to particulate matters with a mass aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 micrometers. They are capable of traveling deep into the body causing anything from mild symptoms such as nose and throat irritation to more serious conditions like lung and heart problems, even lung cancer.
To get the information across to the public, a monitoring system was devised. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a number used to communicate how polluted the air is in real time, and how bad it is forecast to become. AQI readings above 150 are considered to have direct impacts on the health conditions of sensitive groups of people.
While industrial pollution left cities across China and India in the smog, countries in Southeast Asia have become alert to the man-made problem and begun taking action to reduce PM2.5 levels. Let’s hope that it’s not too late.
A few weeks into the new year 2018, it was a terrible shock to find thick haze of air pollution blanketing the entire landscape of Bangkok Metropolis. The spike in PM2.5 concentrations that cut down visibility and posed a threat to public health was blamed on a mix of humidity and seasonal inactivity in the air flow.
The same also happened to Chiangmai in the northern part of the country, and the haze hasn’t fully lifted. While local governments called on farmers not to burn their fields in preparation for the new planting season in Chiangmai, Bangkok authorities were looking for ways to free up traffic snarls and reduce air pollutants from industrial plants.
In Jakarta, where traffic jams were just as bad, the need to reduce air pollution has been a hot topic for quite some time. Jakarta’s problems stemmed from rapid increases in vehicular emissions in the city and industrial pollution in the northern part of the city. A recent study showed that over 60% of the population of the Indonesian capital were facing increased risks in respiratory and pulmonary disease.
Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City were no exception when it came to air pollution from vehicular emissions. Motorbikes remained the most popular means of transportation nationwide. The country with a population of 92 million had over 45 million registered motorcycles. A 2013 study showed that high PM2.5 levels were linked to about 40,000 deaths, equivalent in seriousness to a 5% economic loss.
Do you fancy a walk with Komodo dragons, or cave exploring, or taking selfies on a stunning rice terrace? Do you feel like making a trip to see snow-capped mountains? Here are ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the ASEAN that might interest you.
In all the Region is home to 38 sites on UNESCO World Heritage List. They are selected for providing, among other things, significant natural habitats, exceptional beauty of the landscape, outstanding example of human settlement, unique cultural tradition, flora and fauna, evidence of earth’s history, and the conservation of terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
The sites range from Komodo National Park, where Indonesia’s rare megafauna roams freely in the wild, to spectacular rice paddy terraces in Bali and the Philippines, to examples of outstanding land-use and sea-use in Vietnam. Living ASEAN presents ten sites that you might want to put on your next itinerary.
– Komodo National Park / Indonesia –
Komodo National Park is located within the Lesser Sunda Islands at the center of the Indonesian archipelago. The site was established in 1980 for the purpose of conserving the world’s largest lizards and their habitats. Proceed with caution. Although Komodo attacks are rare, the animal can be aggressive towards humans at feeding time. The giant lizard eats almost any kind of meat. They scavenge on carcasses of animals especially deer. The volcanic islands have been named one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
– Kinabalu Park / Malaysia –
A beautiful place to go climbing in Southeast Asia, Kinabalu is among Malaysia’s first national parks. The 4,095-meter-high Mount Kinabalu is the centerpiece of the park. It was designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 for its outstanding universal values and biological diversity. Located in Sabah State in the northern part of Malaysian Borneo, Kinabalu National Park attracts thousands of mountaineers each year.
– Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park / Vietnam –
Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park in north-central Vietnam is known for its pristine mountain landscape, tropical forests, rich wildlife habitats, limestone karsts, and a vast network of caves. Son Dong, the biggest cave, was discovered by a local named Ho Khanh in 1991. A joint Vietnamese-British team explored the caves in 2009. The national park was open to the public for the first time in 2013.
– Jatiluwih Rice Terrace, Bali / Indonesia –
The Jatiluwih rice terrace in Bali showcases one of the most complex methods of agriculture and water management systems that have existed since the ninth century. Cut into the mountainside, the beautiful paddy fields get its water supplies from a system of canals and weirs, known as Subak. It’s the living embodiment of a traditional philosophy known as Tri Hita Karana, or the three reasons of prosperity; namely, harmony among people, harmony with nature, and harmony with God. It’s a truly amazing place to visit if you are nature lovers.
– Lorentz National Park / Indonesia –
Lorentz National Park in Papua, Indonesia, was named after the Dutch explorer who visited the island in the early 1900s. The largest protected area in Southeast Asia, Lorentzt was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 for a wealth of graphic evidence of earth’s history. It’s one of the most ecologically diverse parks in the world encompassing a full array of ecosystems from marine sanctuaries and mangroves to tidal and freshwater swamp forests, as well as rainforests, tundra, and equatorial glaciers.
The vast forest complex that covers six provinces is home to four national parks and a wildlife sanctuary. The site stretches from the Cambodian border in the east, to Khao Yai National Park in the west. Khao Yai itself lies largely in Nakhon Ratchasima and includes parts of nearby provinces such as Saraburi, Prachinburi, and Nakhon Nayok. The complex ecosystems provide natural habitats for 2,500 species of flora and 800 species of fauna. Recently a streak of 18 tigers were discovered and photographed by hidden cameras. Parts of Khao Yai National Park have been set aside for tourism and has facility for wildlife watching at night.
– Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park / the Philippines –
Tubbataha Reefs is a marine park at the center of the Sulu Sea. Its two reefs are said to have existed for 15 million years. The North Reef spans 15 kilometers that serves as nesting sites for sea birds and marine turtles. The South Reef is 6 by 3 kilometers. The pristine coral islands boast extensive lagoons that serve as habitats for marine species, such as whale sharks, sting rays, spiny lobsters, leopard sharks, giant jacks, barracudas, parrot fish, hammerhead sharks, guitar sharks, snappers, lion fish, tortoise, clownfish, grey reef sharks, and manta, a devil ray that’s sometimes seen leaping high out of the water.
Here’s an update on Southeast Asia’s automotive markets at the close of 2017. Used cars made up the largest sector in the car markets of Myanmar, and Cambodia. Thailand ranked number 12 among the world’s top motor vehicle producers. Indonesia was the largest car market in Southeast Asia. Region-wide, Toyota reigned supreme as the bestseller except in Malaysia, which was happy to stick with homegrown brands.
The ASEAN car market represents a diverse assortment of brands and a great deal of variety in the way member countries respond to their specific needs. The mix includes thriving homegrown brands, world-class motor vehicle producers, as well as heavens for new and pre-owned cars and trucks.
– Thailand and Indonesia –
Thailand and Indonesia are major regional economic players. Indonesia boasted the largest automotive market, while Thailand ranked number 12 among the world’s leading motor vehicle producers. In 2017, its total production was expected to top two million units, of which more than half were exported. A slight decrease in 2017 export volumes was more than offset by a 12-percent increase in the internal car market.
The Thai automotive industry has been a success story since 2000. The country produced a little over 400,000 motor vehicles in that year. Toyota Hilux has long been the bestselling model especially in the provinces throughout Thailand. Apart from carrying goods and agricultural products, the truck was used in various forms of human transportation. But for people living in or near the city, Toyota and Honda cars were the preferred choices.
Indonesia, the ASEAN’s largest automotive market, ranked number 17 among the world’s top motor vehicle producers. Its 2017 production was expected to far exceed 1.2 million units, up from 1,177,389 in 2016, during which 1,048,134 new units were sold on the domestic market. Sport utility vehicles (SUV), all purpose vehicles (APV), and larger trucks were the favorites, considering Indonesia had the largest population in the ASEAN.
The two countries are grappling with the same problem – traffic congestions. A TomTom traffic index ranked Bangkok, and Jakarta number 2, and 3, respectively, among the cities with the worst midtown traffic snarl-ups. It was a high price to pay since it was the automotive industry that generated incomes from exports, employment, and tax revenues. As technology advanced, both countries were hoping to count on electric cars and new urban public transport to improve traffic flow.
– Myanmar and Cambodia –
It was a different situation in Myanmar and Cambodia. Strong economic growth in recent years has seen sharp increases in demands for pre-owned motor vehicles. In both countries, new cars accounted for less than 10 percent of total sales in 2016, during which Myanmar imported as many as 120,000 secondhand vehicles from Japan. Here Toyota Probox was the favorite. Trouble was the all-purpose vehicle from Japan was designed for driving on the left side of the road (the steering wheel being on the right-hand side). After independence, Myanmar had changed to move traffic in the right side of the path. If you are front seat passengers, watch out for passing and oncoming vehicles when you get out of the car in Myanmar. Judge the space available when getting off the bus, because you could find yourself in the middle of the road.
To solve the problem, the Myanmar Government has enacted a law banning the importation of secondhand automobiles designed for driving on the left side of the road. But it would take a long time to see any results. To meet an increasing demand for new automobiles, Suzuki has recently opened a factory in Myanmar. In 2017, it produced 2,700 Suzuki Carry trucks, of which about 1,000 units were sold in the domestic market. In big cities like Yangon and Mandalay, more new cars from Europe and Japan continued to make their presence felt, albeit very slowly.
Meanwhile in Cambodia, secondhand Toyota Camry and Lexus SUV’s were the favorites among people in urban areas. The country imported pre-owned automobiles mostly from the United States, Japan, and the Middle East. In the small new-car market, the Cambodians generally preferred the Toyota brand with pick-up trucks being the all-time bestsellers. The same was true in nearby Thailand and Laos, where the light-duty trucks were used to carry both farm products and human passengers.
– Malaysia –
The only ASEAN country with successful homegrown brands, Malaysia boasted the third largest automobile market in the Region. Here, new car sales exceeded 580,000 units per year with the Perodua taking the largest portion of the market. (UMW Corporation held 38 percent of shares in the Malaysian car manufacturer.) Perodua sold about 200,000 cars per year, far outranking Honda which sold a little over half that number. Proton, another homegrown Malaysian brand, came in third place, while Toyota in fourth.
– Other ASEAN Member Countries –
Keep an eye on the Philippines, whose automobile market grew by a whopping 20 percent in 2016. The same was expected in 2017, during which new car sales were expected to be about 450,000 units. Singapore was an entirely different story. It was government policy to keep new car sales growth below 0.25 percent. Meantime, it was focusing on proper maintenance of existing automobiles and developing urban public transit, for which Singapore has already invested US$22.9 billion.