Unjacketed Cabinet

Thaksin Turns Up the Heat

Bangkok Post, September 23, 2001

Cabinet told to go jacket-free
Air-con in offices will be turned down to save on power use

Fearing an energy crisis in the wake of the terror attacks on US, cabinet members have agreed to kickstart the government's energy-saving campaign by leaving their jackets at home.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday the ministers would leave their ties on to maintain an air of officialdom, but by doing away with the jackets the ministers would be able to lower the temperature of their office air-conditioners and save energy.

Jackets would be worn only on certain occasions, the premier said. Ministers have already been told not to wear jackets to cabinet next week, he said.

The Thai Rak Thai-led government was mulling conservation measures in light of concerns that the Sept 11 terrorist attack on the US might lead to an energy crisis.

Among the measures discussed by the National Energy Policy Committee yesterday were closure of entertainment places, petrol stations and radio and television broadcasts after midnight. Mr Thaksin said the government was working on measures to curb energy use on its side but he preferred other measures to come in on a voluntary basis.

The government would only request co-operation from the private sector if there was a critical shortage of energy, Mr Thaksin said. Chaturon Chaisaeng, PM's Office minister, said the measures would go to cabinet on Tuesday.

The government hoped to be able to save as much as 12.3 billion baht in energy costs if all the measures were adopted and enforced. By setting the government office air-conditioning temperature at 26 degrees Celsius, the government would be able to save four billion baht a year, he said.

Only government organisations would be required to follow energy conservation plans. The private sector would be asked to voluntarily turn off advertising lights after midnight and close department stores from 10pm-10am. "We will not impose compulsory measures on private firms as they could affect the economic atmosphere," he said.

The committee made no decision on proposals to close petrol stations between midnight and 5am. "The idea may not also help save much fuel," said Mr Chaturon. Service station owners were aware of the situation. Some may already close their stations during the period without being encouraged by the government, he said.

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