Building on Apec pluses
The Apec summit gave Thailand and other Apec members an opportunity to strengthen their partnerships, with a number of cooperation deals clinched.
It was also an opportunity for Thailand as host country to flaunt its plus side, better known as soft power, wowing foreign leaders, delegates and media members alike.
As the Apec leaders shared clips and pictures of Thai food, Muay Thai boxing, tourist attractions, and hospitality through social media outlets, they helped promote the country's soft power.
If pursued, this could enable the country to reap the benefits of much-needed tourism-related income without having to spend a fortune on expensive campaigns as it did before.
For instance, French president Emmanuel Macron's tour of Chinatown, taking a bite at a famous Chinese restaurant, dropping in to see a Muay Thai demonstration by celebrated boxer Buakaw Banchamek, and a visit to Wat Pho, were the talk of the town.
So was a tour to Or Tor Kor farm market in Chatuchak district by US vice president Kamala Harris, who purchased several kinds of chilli paste as well as a bunch of lemon grass to take back to the US.
Inarguably, the rise of Thailand's soft power can complement its tourism.
Tourism has been dormant for the past few years due to the pandemic but is slowly coming back to life.
The number of international arrivals is on the rise, which could make the tourism authorities' target of 10 million tourists visiting Thailand this year close to coming true.
In fact, authorities must adjust the way they handle soft power, promoting it as a long-term mission, with a steady campaign, not just a one-time event.
The same goes for security in the capital, which will never go unnoticed by the visting tourist.
Ahead of the Nov 18-19 summit, Bangkok looked particularly tidy and safe, as the authorities heightened security to the maximum, with crime busters enthusiastically performing their duty to secure confidence among Apec leaders and participants.
The Royal Thai police (RTP) held a series of press conferences from Oct 10-Nov 8, hailing their "success'' in conducting various anti-crime operations, such as suppressing narcotic drug rings, and a blitz on illegal weapons.
For example, police rounded up some 4,000 criminals who had managed to escape the law for a long time.
The numbers elsewhere in the police campaign were also stunning, with another 10,450 arrested on illegal weapon charges, and 43,803 on drug-related offences.
More than 43 million methamphetamine pills were confiscated. Police pledged not to stop at that but to extend the anti-drug operation to cover production sites as well.
At the same time, the immigration police toughened action against Chinese mafia and those sneaking from neighbouring countries onto Thai soil.
The Chiang Rai immigration office, in particular, launched a "Fah Sang" or Dawning crime suppression operation to prevent transborder crime.
Such efforts are impressive and the authorities should carry on the good work as they strive to keep social order.
What they accomplished ahead of Apec, and during the summit itself, shows they can do better on a routine basis to maintain social order. This should be an everyday routine; there is no need to wait for a special event.
Bangkok Post editorial column
These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.
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- soft power