Blog Note: What is the clearest sign of political risks? Obviously, it is repression against freedom and liberty.
To put it bluntly, repression does nothing but to increase the pressure on the cooker-readying it for the explosion or convulsions.
What does the Freedom and Liberty level and its subsequent political risk indicates for Thailand?
Well, the government, after the bloody crackdown and total press censorship and propaganda-along with blaming the protesters for the confrontation and thus jailing many protesters-is now making “Very Very Very Loud Noises” about how everyone should accept the next general election.
The fact, is, it is too late-for that.
All the repression, subsequent injustices-along with “Fixing” the election, has left a nasty taste.
The election will not solve anything in Thailand. Until Thailand changes fundamentally, starting with a guarantee of freedom and liberty-Thailand will continue to deteriorate into the abyss.
The Following is from the Economist:
Businesses Need to Think Harder about Political Risks
A MONTH ago Ahmed Ezz was one of the most powerful businesspeople in Egypt. He controlled about 40% of the country’s steel production, played a leading role in the ruling party and, most important of all, was a bosom buddy of Hosni Mubarak’s son and heir apparent, Gamal.
Today he is a has-been. Protesters have demonised him and torched his company headquarters. The old guard has dumped him as a liability. He is under investigation, his assets have been frozen and his right to travel has been restricted. Western companies that cultivated Mr Ezz wasted their time and money.
It was once regarded as axiomatic that globalisation would marginalise politics. Theodore Levitt, one of Harvard Business School’s leading thinkers, argued that “the Earth is round but, for most purposes, it’s sensible to treat it as flat”. Kenichi Ohmae, a Japanese business guru, published “The Borderless World” and “The End of the Nation State”. Giant companies such as IBM and Ford played down the importance of country managers in their efforts to create globally integrated behemoths.
The events in Egypt are a reminder of how foolish such “borderless” thinking can be. Dick Cheney once remarked, “The Good Lord didn’t see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratically elected regimes friendly to the United States.” It might be added that the Good Lord did not see fit to put economic growth in equally desirable places. The corporate world is rightly excited by the pell-mell growth in emerging markets, but these are rife with political risks—weak legal systems, makeshift institutions, volatile cities and fragile regimes.
A growing number of countries, most notably China but also Russia and the Gulf states, are using business as an instrument of state power. And some of the world’s biggest companies, including most of the largest oil firms, are state-run, driven by political as much as economic considerations.
China is the leading offender, using state companies to snap up a growing share of the world’s natural resources. It is also using its state-industrial complex to pursue political goals. Google was forced to re-route its servers when it refused to censor e-mails. Four Rio Tinto executives were imprisoned in dubious circumstances. China is not alone: BP’s new partnership with Rosneft, Russia’s state-controlled oil giant, to develop Russia’s Arctic region is complicated by murky political considerations.
Political risks can also bite Western companies at home, where governments are increasingly vigilant about corruption. The Obama administration is enforcing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act with an evangelical zeal—and employing techniques once reserved for fighting organised crime. The British government is introducing tough anti-bribery measures. Executives who adopt what they regard as “local” rules in Thailand or Indonesia can find themselves facing prison sentences back home.
How do companies cope? There are no simple rules. Countries that are cavalierly lumped together as emerging markets have very different political regimes. In Brazil you need to understand Congress’s multi-party alliances; in China the power dynamics of the Communist Party; in Saudi Arabia the internal relations of the ruling family. Local politics add yet more complexity.
The most important advice is to take politics seriously. Oil and mining companies have always done this. Royal Dutch Shell has run a profitable business in Nigeria for more than 50 years despite a dangerous and volatile environment. “New economy” companies have tended to be much more naive. The Egyptian crisis demonstrates that they cannot avoid being caught up in political battles which are now fought over the internet. A Google executive in the region, Wael Ghonim, also doubled as a leading political activist.
Companies can buy advice from political-risk consultancies such as Control Risks, a British outfit, or Eurasia Group, an American one, or various niche consultancies set up by political bigwigs, from Henry Kissinger on down, and ex-ambassadors. (Full disclosure: the Economist Intelligence Unit, a sister organisation of The Economist, also offers advice on political risk.) Ian Bremmer, the president of Eurasia Group and a rising guru in the area, has written some provocative books on the subject.
But companies need to go further than just buying advice. They need to put more emphasis on local knowledge: many globalisation-obsessed companies may come to regret the fashion for downgrading country managers. They also need to be less impressed by the appearance of stability. The rapid collapse of Egypt’s autocracy should be food for thought for companies that have bet big on China (with its appearance of order) rather than India (with its messy democracy).
Some techniques have proved particularly successful. One is diversifying operations. Chrysler escaped a wave of nationalisation in Peru because its local factory manufactured only half the components needed to assemble a car. Another is putting down deep local roots. Over the years Shell has trained and employed many of the people who regulate Nigeria’s oil industry. A third is sharing risks. A growing number of companies form complex alliances with other firms, NGOs and government bodies.
Yet all these techniques come with a sting in the tail. Creating global operations may spread risks rather than isolating them when a vital factory is closed. Cuddling up to the local regime may turn you into an object of hatred, as Shell has discovered in Nigeria. Weaving alliances with local people you cannot fully control may expose you to charges of corruption. It turns out that political economy is a much more complicated subject than its trendy modern offspring, economics.
- Political Intelligence: Semi-Free Thailand sees Democracy slide as kids get “Whip & Caged” (thaiintelligentnews.wordpress.com)
- Freedom & Liberty Intelligence: Expatraites say that in Thailand “One is free to do, but not to think” (thaiintelligentnews.wordpress.com)
- Freedom & Liberty Intelligence (2): Webmaster’s trial highlights Thai IT authorities’ criteria, procedure of policing Internet (thaiintelligentnews.wordpress.com)
- Politico: Amid WikiLeaks battle, Clinton to assert US support for internet freedom (blogs.journalism.co.uk)
- Clinton to Promote ‘Freedom to Connect’ in Internet Freedom Speech – KBOI (news.google.com)
- Clinton demands net freedom for all… ‘cept Wikileaks (go.theregister.com)
- IAE gives Thailand the Green-Light for Nuclear Energy…But USA War College sees risk in nuclear weapons proliferation with nuclear power plants (thaiintelligentnews.wordpress.com)
- Clinton to Promote ‘Freedom to Connect’ to the Internet (blogs.abcnews.com)
- Clinton: Nations Suppress Internet at Own Risk (foxnews.com)