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Asean Affairs   22  July  2011

Concerns grow about Thai economic plans

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     22 July 2011

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Thailand has apparently settled into a period of political stability following the July 3 elections.

There has been no post-election violence as Thais take a deep breath and are glad the election hurdle is over.

The Election Commission is still certifying winning Parliamentary candidates and must certify 475 within 30 days after the election before the House can meet and it is moving prudently toward that goal with 32 MPs certified today bringing the total to 402.

However, before the election and now after the election, economists have expressed concern over a number of the programs that the winning Pheu Thai party plans to implement.

The three top policies that are catching their attention are raising the daily minimum wage to 300 baht nationwide, providing credit cards for farmers and to giving free tablet PCs to students.

The Research Centre at Bangkok University conducted a poll on “Election campaign policies concern by economists” from July 15 to 21, seeking opinions from 62 economists from the country’s 26 leading economic research and analysis agencies.

Tangible economic problems these policies might create include increased inflation, the projects could cause the government a fiscal problem, reduction of trade competitiveness because of high production costs and some policies, such as the rice mortgage plan, could be a source of corruption.

The economists also noted that policies should be implemented in gradual steps rather than suddenly.

On the other hand, the economists supported the establishment of training centres in all vocational colleges, suppression of drug trafficking within 12 months, and making available free-of-charge Internet services at all public places.

Other than above, the most volatile issue remains the role of red shirt candidates who have been elected as MPS. Some of them are charged with terrorism and perhaps the most prominent candidate, Jatuporn Prompan, was jailed during the vote and a number of issues are swirling about his electoral status.

Six red shirt MPs have been certified by the Election Commission (EC) to take seats and the country awaits the EC’s decision on others, including Mr. Jatuporn.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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