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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Majors_Forum
Bangkok, becoming an international city
     2012-October-16  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Chen Bing, Zheng Xiangpeng, Yu Hairong, Wang Yuanyuan

cheekywang@hotmail.com

BANGKOK has worked relentlessly to become an international city. For its Vice Mayor Vallop Suwandee, the key to building an international city is to have an appealing culture and a good environment.

“In many ways, Bangkok already is an international city due to its large number of foreign travelers and expatriates and overseas companies and organizations. It is also the global capital of Buddhism. However, the next step is to create an environment in which people from all cultures can integrate to attract world-class talent. Bangkok also needs to improve its responses to emergencies such as natural disasters,” Suwandee said in an exclusive interview with Shenzhen Special Zone Daily.

A cultural city

To promote culture in the city, Bangkok was designated as the UNESCO’s World Book Capital 2013.

“The cheapest and most effective way of expanding the mind is reading. At present, a resident in Bangkok reads 2 to 5 books every year on average and we are going to increase this to 15,” he said.

To achieve the goal, the city has made a series of plans, organizing 89 public and private activities across the city. For example, the former headquarters of the Municipal Government of Bangkok was converted into a library. A museum of cartoons and comics was also built to attract younger visitors.

A green city

Bangkok has also emphasized building a green city.

“Shenzhen is promoting a ‘green commuting’ program, encouraging residents to choose public transportation ahead of private cars. In Bangkok, we also have a ‘car free program,’” Suwandee said.

The program was first launched in Bangkok in 2009 and the government will choose two or three days every September as “car free days” to encourage residents to leave their cars at home.

“Our first step is to improve the city’s public transportation system. We are also building cycling tracks to give commuters greener options,” he said.

A clean city

Many Asian cities struggle with public hygiene because of the large number of street vendors.

“There are about 380,000 vendors on the streets of Bangkok. They make an average of about US$12 a day, as much as a receptionist at a luxury hotel. Vendors, most of whom are migrants from other parts of the country, are seen by some as integral to Bangkok’s culture. However, they don’t pay taxes and don’t take responsibility for sanitation. Many are protected by underground organizations,” Suwandee said.

Suwandee does not agree that street vendors are an indispensable part of city life.

“They are an eyesore. Most tourists come to Bangkok to see temples, not eat on the street. I want tourists to experience a clean Bangkok, not chaotic and dirty streets,” he said.

Bangkok plans to clear out all street vendors in the next 10 years. “It will not be easy, but if citizens want to have clean streets, the government will do anything it can to protect their rights,” Suwandee said.

The city holds mass cleaning activities every June 5 to mark World Environment Day. “All government officials participate alongside citizens in the hope of raising environmental awareness,” he said.

A safe city

An important mark of a city’s quality is its ability to respond to emergencies. “Great cities take care of their citizens when unforeseen events occur,” he said.

The floods in 2011 were a wake-up call for the city’s government. “After the floods, we held a citywide check on drainage systems. We will finish the construction of 6,200 kilometers of drainage pipes, seven large underground drainage channels and 1,682 canals this year. We will also build a flood control center, sending real-time rain data and flood information to residents and companies. Our long-term goal is to invest about 13.6 billion yuan (US$2.14 billion) on the construction of a flood prevention system. A strong sewage system will make for a safer city,” Suwandee said.

Other measures include street lamp repairs, construction projects and cable promotion activities.

 

SZ a bridge for cooperation

Chen Bing, Zheng Xiangpeng, Yu Hairong, Wang Yuanyuan

cheekywang@hotmail.com

SHENZHEN is fully capable of leading the way in cooperation between China and Southeast Asia, said Vallop Suwandee, vice mayor of Bangkok.

He has been to Shenzhen several times and is deeply impressed with the city’s development in the past 30 years. “I look forward to more cooperation between Shenzhen and Bangkok,” he said.

In Suwandee’s opinion, cooperation between cities can ease or even solve international disagreements such as land disputes in East Asia.

“I think that many national disputes between Southeast Asian countries are caused by a lack of mutual understanding,” he said.

Suwandee suggests cities can promote more seminars and forums to discuss politics, academia and business, giving advice and suggestions to both central governments and local governments.

Last but not least is education exchange and cooperation. “I think that education cooperation is one of the most important and effective ways of solving regional disputes and strengthening cooperation. We have more than 600 Chinese students at Kasem Bundit University, including some from Shenzhen. They learn our language and our culture and will surely become bridges between Thailand and China in the future,” Suwandee said.

 

City of Bangkok

BANGKOK, capital of Thailand, is the second largest city and a major harbor in Southeast Asia.

Covering a total area of 1,568 square kilometers, it is also “the city of Buddhism” and has the title of “the Venice of the East.”

With a history of barely more than 200 years, Bangkok is now the largest city in Thailand with a population of 9.1 million and is the country’s political, economic, cultural, educational and transportation center.

More than 300 international conferences are held in the city every year and more than 20 international organizations have their regional headquarters in Bangkok. Vallop Suwandee

VALLOP SUWANDEE became vice mayor of Bangkok in 2005. He is also chairman of Advisors to Governor of Bangkok and founder and president of Kasem Bundit University in Thailand. He has been recognized as a hugely inspirational education expert.

 

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