Thailand out of Expo race
BANGKOK, 14 June 2013: The Bureau of International Expositions has dropped Thailand from the short list of destinations vying to host the World Expo in 2020 after the Thai government apparently failed to provide written clarification on financial aspects.
It leaves just four destinations vying for the event; Ekaterinburg, Russia; Dubai, the United Arab Emirates; Izmir, Turkey; and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The BIE on Tuesday reportedly disqualified Thailand, over concerns the bid did not have sufficient support from the Thai government, although BIE remained silent, officially offering no explanation for Thailand’s absence on the shortlist.
However, the omission of Thailand on the bureau’s official website confirms that the race is well and truly over. The BIE website presents images of just four destinations across the top of its home page with a blank space where Thailand would have been featured as the fifth candidate.
The bureau’s website is brand new with limited content. Of the four candidates only the bid summary of Izmir in Turkey is presented on the site. There was no news update on the World Expo 2020 other than basic information that confirms the event will be hosted between 30 April and 31 October, 2020.
A BIE team visited Ayutthaya, 28 January to 1 February, this year and gave the government until 5 April to answer specific questions on the project’s financial, legislative, organisational and diplomatic aspects.
Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau former president, Akapol Sorasuchart, said Thailand’s bid to host the world event was not on the agenda of the BIE’s two-day meeting in earlier this week. The meeting considered the bids of the four remaining candidates.
“Although the BIE inspection teams that visited Ayutthaya, earlier this year, found the province met its criteria, the bid to host the expo hit a snag when the Pheu Thai Party-led government failed to confirm important support details for the bid.”
He claimed the government did not respond to the BIE letter in April. He added: “It would have been better if the BIE had disqualified us or other countries outdid us. But we lost because of our own negligence.”
The Prime Minister cannot deny responsibility for the consequences, he said.
“The loss has damaged the country’s image and the money spent campaigning for the country has all been wasted,” he said.
Dubai is now the favourite destination to host the event, the former TCEB president claimed.
Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut asked Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to explain why the BIE excluded Thailand from the bidding.
Mr Chavanond claimed the government had spent more than Bt400 million of state funds on a feasibility study and public relations for the project.
“Thailand had the potential to be selected as the winning candidate. Therefore it is unacceptable for the country to have been disqualified from the bidding process and PM Yingluck should clarify the issue to the public.”
Meanwhile, former Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij posted on his Facebook that it was a pity that Thailand was disqualified, attributing it to a lack of governing professionalism.
“The Yingluck government did not take the subject seriously. This may be because it was initiated by the Democrat government. Or the government may not see any benefits from this. Or this government may want to give way to Dubai.”
However, the PM said earlier that Thailand had not withdrawn its bid to support Dubai’s bid.
Mr Korn added: “While Thais have observed this development with interest, the BIE did not know about this. What they knew was our PM’s insistence that Thailand would bid. Yet, when we have to submit an official confirmation of government support, we just quietly pulled out.”
Former Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, signed off on the government’s official bid on 24 April 2010 selecting Ayutthaya as the country official bid venue.
The expo bidding process is now reaching the final stages when governments prepare their bids to be presented at the general assembly, which, by a secret vote (each member-state has one vote) chooses the winning bid to host the expo.