A must-read piece published by Asia Times Online, that covers the probable outcome of the elections, the CNS’s actions toward foreign investors and the problem of the King’s succession.
This article was written by one of their editors, Shawn W Crispin , and part of a presentation made tuesday to a group of foreign investors in Bangkok.
Nothing to add. It’s just brillant.
Here are 3 excerpts. Click here to read the whole article.
“I predict that the Democrat and Motherland parties will form the core of a new coalition government, also consisting of the smaller Chat Thai, Rak Chat and Mahachon parties, convened under a national-unity banner. That will put the PPP and a smattering of other smaller parties in the opposition.
I also predict that the marriage won’t last longer than two years. As was the case throughout the 1990s, the coalition government will likely dissolve because of factional infighting, conflicts over government resources and allegations of the PPP-led opposition playing money politics to lure enough members of Parliament (MPs) into its camp to break the coalition government.
That would arguably set the stage for a new military intervention, completing the age-old cycle of Thai politics: coup, constitution, political parties, election, legislature, honeymoon period, crisis, new coup, and the installation of another – though not necessarily interim – military-appointed government that with the perceived failure of elected politicians would likely be less committed to returning the country to democracy.
The CNS and its military-appointed government and National Assembly have over the past year taken foreign investors on a roller-coaster ride, with capital controls, nationalistic revisions to the Foreign Business Act, and widespread rhetoric of implementing an inward-looking “sufficiency economy” that concentrates more on “gross national happiness” than gross national product.
If the conservative Democrat party forms the core of the next government, it can be expected to implement classic neo-liberal, foreign-investor-friendly policies. The party has already indicated that it would move to repeal the capital controls and ramp up fiscal spending if elected. At the same time, it’s still unclear how much influence the military and its political proxies will have over the Lower House of the next Parliament. It’s a relatively safe bet that they will guard against a complete reversal of the nationalistic policies they have made, particularly in relation to the Foreign Business Act.
The PPP would likely try to resurrect Thaksin’s economic policies, which after lurching toward more protectionism in the early phases were decidedly laissez-faire for most of his tenure. The Motherland Party could potentially represent a more nationalistic posture, judging provisionally by its party slogan “Building the nation, maintaining religion, and safeguarding the monarchy.”
It’s important to note that there is a palpable feeling among certain elite circles that in recent years Thailand has opened too much, too fast to foreign investment in domestic-oriented industries and that new opportunities opening in the tourism and property sectors should prioritize Thai over foreign entrepreneurs.
Many believe that for all the military’s original stated motivations for launching the coup, including the allegations leveled against Thaksin of corruption, abuse of power and dangerously dividing the nation, it was royalist concerns that if he remained in power when the highly revered Bhumibol finally passes from the scene that the ambitious premier could have complicated the already delicate royal succession.
As Thailand prepares to celebrate King Bhumibol’s 80th birthday in December, as always, speculation is rife among the chattering classes about his health. He had a major surgery last year and has a long history of heart ailments. Many Thais will tell you openly that they dread the uncertainty that the generational transition could cause, and many believe that with the eventual handover, the current centrality of the institution of the monarchy in Thai society could be at stake.
If that day were to arrive in the months ahead, it is highly likely that the military’s concerns for national security would trump its stated commitment to uphold democracy and that royalist soldiers would move to dissolve government and resume their hold on power to manage the transition. And, as with last September’s coup that ousted Thaksin, it would likely be a popular decision among Bangkok’s upper and middle classes, who, as ever, despite all the talk of democracy, still dictate Thailand’s political course.