by Pooky, this blog economic journalist
Talk about Thailand’s business community these days, and you can not get away hearing from Dusit of the Thai Chambers of Commerce, the Thai Commercial attaché at Embassies globally, and then a leading Thai conglomerate like CP. Then the trouble at Thai Airways.
The following story, perhaps, will tell you, our readers, of why Thailand is in such a mess.
Thai Chamber of Commerce:
Lets start with Dusit, the Thai Chambers of Commerce head. When the Yellow Shirt went to occupy the Thai airport, Dusit very much said it is time the Taksin government went, because it was causing so much political problems for Thailand. Well that seems reasonable, but the problem is, when the Red Shirt went to on a rampage at the ASEAN meet, Disit, in fact said the Red Shirt must be stop by the government.
Dusit have this type of track record such as when Thailand recalled its ambassador from Cambodia, Dusit went against most Thai business who pointed to the US$5 billion trade that mostly benefited Thai businesses and so-called for caution. But Dusit instead said the Thai government did the correct thing. Then as the Thai government made its 1 year in office evaluation to the public, as Thailand’s Developmental Research Institute gave the government a “Fail Grade” but Dusit said the government did an excellent job.
Then with Thai Commercial attaché, the business newspaper, Siam Business, just ran an expose saying because the position carries with it very hefty salary and allowances, the position-to be appointed needs politician connection. Siam Business said the situation was so bad, politicians are actually appointing their close aid to the position.
“Thailand export is on the line, particularly to new markets that require a great deal of creativity and innovation to open, but instead of finding these people, the Thai government is assigning those with political connection to the job,” said Siam Business.
But the situation is worse than that, according to the paper, because those that are connected to the politicians, often have to service the business interest the politicians serves. “A great deal of efforts in their work has gone to helping a few selected Thai business interest and not the interest of Thailand as a whole.
Taksin, who came from the Thai telecom roots, recently twitted that the problem with Thailand’s 3G license is that there is a Thai conglomerate blocking the development, because it wants the best deal it could. In Thailand, the CP group is very close to the Thai government. In fact, only about a week after CP senior executive voiced their rejection of the 3G licensing as not being in the best interest of Thailand because it was price base, the Thai government came out to say the exact same thing.
Subsequently, the bidding process was changed to accommodate CP’s wishes. But the problem is, there are a great many Thai Think Tank that supported the original bidding process and are against the CP and government move. That conflict, had pretty much frozen the entire process to this point. In the last election, CP donated about 80 million baht to one party only, and that is the Democrat that leads the current government of Abhisit.
The CEO or president of Thai Airways, we can’t remember his exact position, but he comes from Thailand’s energy policy office. There is has criticized every government in the past 10 years, over Thailand’s massive subsidy to the energy industry, as hurting free-market and resulting in wasteful consumption. Every time, this issue comes up, he would dive into a fierce public position against such move. However, after he was appointed to head Thai Airways, and current government continues to issue new major policies of energy subsidy, this head of Thai Airways, have remained silent on the subject.
His run of Thai Airways, have seen politicians using their political connection massively for air travel. The latest is that Thailand’s Finance Minister, Korn, has used his connection, to up-grade the tickets of his entire family on their personal travel for vacations.
Why Sell their Soul:
Why do the people in all three cases have been that way? The answer is difficult. Dusit is from the SCC group which has strong relationship to you know what. The Thai Foreign Ministry, where the Commercial attaché comes from, is under Kasit, who is a Yellow Shirt and as most knows any Yellow Shirt do not respect law and order.
Then CP is up for debate, but the conglomerate for decades have been criticized for destroying Thailand’s family farm and family retail trade. Given that type of threat and the opportunity in new businesses, it appears that CP sees politicizing itself as the solution. Thai Airways head is a difficult situation to analyze. It could be he simply lost interest in energy issues after 10 years, overnight. Then about the tickets, it could be he is just a nice guy to Thai politicians, who are on the government side.
However, the above cases can indicate, apart from the obvious corruption involve, that Thai politics has spread its influences into units that should be independent. This blog is sure, a close look in Thailand, will also indicate more of these types of politics and business alliances.
We just want to remind our readers that Thailand is now one of the most corrupt country in the world and also the system efficiency and effectiveness has tumbled in the past 5 years-where the level of the deterioration is the second worse in the world.