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Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

July 20, 2001

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has decided to hire Michael E Porter for US$1 million to deliver a lecture on how Thailand may improve its competitiveness. The lecture, which will cover about a day and a half, will take place sometime in September. Porter is Harvard University's renowned management guru and the author of "On Competition", a best seller.

But is Porter really the man he claims to be? We'll know his identity for sure by his mode of travel. If he flies to Thailand in a Boeing 747, then he really is Professor Michael Porter. If he arrives here by broomstick, then he is certainly the father of Harry Potter, the wizard kid who has taken the world by storm.

You don't have to be a philologist to discern a relationship between Porter and Potter. Both names apparently share the same root.
According to JK Rowling, Harry's parents Lily and James were killed by a bad wizard called Voldemort because they did not act wizard-like. Harry was spared, but Voldemort made a mark over his forehead, which was no ordinary cut.

Is it possible that James is still alive? If so, could he have changed his name to Michael Porter to camouflage his actual identity from Voldemort, the wizard who will never die? We'll know soon enough.
If it were James Potter coming to the City of Angels to lecture on competition, that would make quite an interesting scene. Nobody knows for sure how a farang wizard would mingle with the Thai angels.

Still, it is not difficult to predict how he would talk to his audience. The clue lies in his background. For James, like Harry, graduated from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.?

Thaksin has been quite concerned about the competitiveness of Thailand following a report by the International Institute for Management and Development, which has ranked the country at the bottom in IT infrastructure and in science and technology among the 49 countries it surveys. The prime minister has promised to turn the Thai economy around in six months. The only way he can do it is to rely on witchcraft and magic.

It is likely that any lecture on Thailand's competitiveness will have to incorporate the Thai Rak Thai's policy platform. But this would be easy for James the wizard, who has all the flexibility he needs because he practices witchcraft and he has the magic.

James is the author of "On Wizardry Competition", which was written circa 1772 and published by Hogwarts. The book provides all the ready-made answers on how to build and keep the business of an empire.

As part of his visit, James will give Thailand a crystal ball so that we can look into the future without having to rely on the faulty economic forecasts of the Bank of Thailand or the National Economic and Social Development Board.

With the export slowdown, James is likely to recommend Thailand to diversify from the export of chickens and shrimps to owls and bats.
To earn more foreign exchange from the tourist sector, the Thaksin government may be encouraged to attract more wizards, who mostly have very high purchasing power.

If the Khaosan area is a haven for farang backpackers, Hua Lamphong the sleeping stage for unemployed Isaan people and Soi Nana a community of Middle-Eastern types, then Lumpini Park can become a home for the wizards. The only problem is that the wizards will only pay in ancient coins from the Middle Ages.

They will give all Thai villages a magic wand each so they can turn out their own products. Herbal medicines obtained from distant caves protected by seven-headed dragons will cure every imaginary ailment, freeing the government from the expense of having to provide the Bt30 universal healthcare.

Imagine how happy the Thai people will be after the visit of James Potter, because all their ills and sufferings will disappear overnight. The problem is that if Michael Porter is real, we will have to follow the real-world academic's advice and work our butts off again.

This is not something the Thai people are really prepared for. They already expect magic from the prime minister, without any compromise. But it seems Thaksin does need a James Potter to muddle through.

Thanong Khanthong



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