Spotlight: Thailand’s next crucible – A doomsday scenario

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Thai protestsThailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra appears to be armouring herself for battle. The country’s first female head of state, Yingluck appeared before a royal audience late last week to write another pioneering page in history by becoming the first female defense minister of the nation.

The decision to reshuffle her cabinet and absorb the country’s top role over the military wasn’t made overnight. Controversial from the moment it was planned, Yingluck’s rice purchasing scheme first came under fire for being too costly, leading to corruption and chopping away at the competitiveness of exporters, eventually forcing the incumbent Pheu Thai Pheu party to bring rice prices back to global market levels.

The move was met with expected ire. Thai rice farmers and distributors – part of Yingluck’s core constituency in the north – have become outraged, forming protest groups and galvanising what many fear will be the beginning tides of a reiteration to the deadly clashes of 2010.

(Don’t agree? — Read our sunshine scenario)

Besides the failed rice subsidy programme, Yingluck has managed to outrage the public by passing other failed policies, such as poorly planned railways that are slated to charge fares far out of the cost range of many Thais, as well as the pitiful first car-buyer scheme. Accusations have been thrown that the rice programme was cleverly disguised to funnel funds to corrupt hands. (see infographic)

Thai rice graph

Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, Yingluck has gone forward with her bold move to mirror Arab despots by commandeering control of the military, a safety valve that could come in handy if the streets of Bangkok turn violent.

If the colours of roiling Thai politics develop in this fashion, the country could quickly devolve. Mass protests would rock the economy and strip the people’s mandate given to the ruling party. Foreign powers have already begun banning rice suspected of being chemically cured to sell off due to poorly managed stockpiling, and outsiders will only loose more faith in the country if it returns to yet another bout of instability.

Tourism levels have traditionally remained strong in Thailand no matter the political upheaval that it has gone through. However, industry analysts predict that the return to protests this time around could prove to be more worrying than the last.

Thailand’s repeated regression into uncertainty erodes at its soul in more ways than one. There are already many factors weighed up against its success in the new economic order of ASEAN; having domestic issues to deal with will only complicate retaining any measure of competency further.

 

Join Inside Investor’s live discussion via Twitter on July 5, 5pm Malaysia time (GMT +8) to add your thoughts of Thailand’s political situation. Mention us and use the hashtag #askii.

 

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra appears to be armouring herself for battle. The country’s first female head of state, Yingluck appeared before a royal audience late last week to write another pioneering page in history by becoming the first female defense minister of the nation.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thai protestsThailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra appears to be armouring herself for battle. The country’s first female head of state, Yingluck appeared before a royal audience late last week to write another pioneering page in history by becoming the first female defense minister of the nation.

The decision to reshuffle her cabinet and absorb the country’s top role over the military wasn’t made overnight. Controversial from the moment it was planned, Yingluck’s rice purchasing scheme first came under fire for being too costly, leading to corruption and chopping away at the competitiveness of exporters, eventually forcing the incumbent Pheu Thai Pheu party to bring rice prices back to global market levels.

The move was met with expected ire. Thai rice farmers and distributors – part of Yingluck’s core constituency in the north – have become outraged, forming protest groups and galvanising what many fear will be the beginning tides of a reiteration to the deadly clashes of 2010.

(Don’t agree? — Read our sunshine scenario)

Besides the failed rice subsidy programme, Yingluck has managed to outrage the public by passing other failed policies, such as poorly planned railways that are slated to charge fares far out of the cost range of many Thais, as well as the pitiful first car-buyer scheme. Accusations have been thrown that the rice programme was cleverly disguised to funnel funds to corrupt hands. (see infographic)

Thai rice graph

Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, Yingluck has gone forward with her bold move to mirror Arab despots by commandeering control of the military, a safety valve that could come in handy if the streets of Bangkok turn violent.

If the colours of roiling Thai politics develop in this fashion, the country could quickly devolve. Mass protests would rock the economy and strip the people’s mandate given to the ruling party. Foreign powers have already begun banning rice suspected of being chemically cured to sell off due to poorly managed stockpiling, and outsiders will only loose more faith in the country if it returns to yet another bout of instability.

Tourism levels have traditionally remained strong in Thailand no matter the political upheaval that it has gone through. However, industry analysts predict that the return to protests this time around could prove to be more worrying than the last.

Thailand’s repeated regression into uncertainty erodes at its soul in more ways than one. There are already many factors weighed up against its success in the new economic order of ASEAN; having domestic issues to deal with will only complicate retaining any measure of competency further.

 

Join Inside Investor’s live discussion via Twitter on July 5, 5pm Malaysia time (GMT +8) to add your thoughts of Thailand’s political situation. Mention us and use the hashtag #askii.

 

 

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