Amaret Sila-on is marketing vice-president of Siam Cement, Thailand's largest company and the first to start a Japanese-style trading company.m
Mr. Amaret: ''It is surprising how much the Thais have in common with the Japanese. We are both shy people. We both dislike confrontation. We both work on the principle of consensus. And we are both very, very devious.
''We differ in one important way: Thais are extremely personal and individualistic. The Japanese are very group-oriented. This is a result of our easy climate in Thailand - only the family is needed for survival. The Japanese have a harsher climate and needed larger group support. Also, Thais do not work as hard as the Japanese, and we don't have the full backing of our government. Without that, there is no hope.
''The Japanese work very hard to develop a consensus outside of meetings. The Thais are not very good at that. Many Thai leaders are Western-educated and have not learned consensus-making. But Thais are very skillful at avoiding confrontation and making things difficult to implement. Perhaps we have been fortunate in the past that our leaders have sat on a dilemma until it went away. But we may not be so fortunate today.''