THAI ECONOMY COULD COLLAPSE UNDER STRAIN OF POPULIST POLICIES – The Bank of Thailand Governor, Prasarn Trairatvorakul, didn’t mince his words in a recent ASEAN meeting with foreign ambassadors and high-ranking Thai officials.
His views are that Thailand is like a ship that is being lead into treacherous seas due to the lack of competence of the Prime Minister and other cabinet members.
Thai politics is currently run on the agenda of ‘populist policies’; the view is that if you give the people what they want, regardless to the cost, then the people will continue to vote you in. But is it really that simple?
You might be led to believe that this would be the case, but so deeply entrenched is public ignorance and corruption that it goes beyond simply promising the people to increase their personal wealth; which is a defining factor in a country where obtaining wealth is places high above sustainability, welfare or even human life.
Asia is about to create a similar ‘community’ structure as the Europeans. The ASEAN community will, as with Europe, open up the borders to trade and free movement of workers. This in itself is a good thing but only if the countries involved have a near or equal footing, in terms of economic stability and a skilled work force.
Europe has already experienced deepening and dividing issues due to many EU member states running their economies into the ground and therefore placing the burden of bailing them out on other EU member states. It is unlikely ASEAN will be operated in the same way; however for some countries, such as Thailand, such integration could well place the country in a precarious situation; and this could be said of the same if they didn’t join.
Heads you win, tails you lose… that appears to be the issue as Thailand has already pushed back from joining ASEAN until 2016; the original time-frame was for 2015.
So how could Thailand lose regardless to which way the coin lands? The problem lies primarily in two failings; firstly the rampant corruption and secondly the lack of education.
Whilst the populist policies undoubtedly have short-term benefits for the poor it is also a known fact that their votes are often bought. This level of greed and total lack of understanding through an almost non-existent education system is driving up average household debt; now standing at 77% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and while the economy grew 7.2% Government spending exceeded 9.2%.
The level of debt, compared with a slowing economy and increased government spending is simply not sustainable in the medium or long-term.
These issue leave Thailand exposed if they join ASEAN as rampant inflation will result, making their exports both noncompetitive and unprofitable.
Left: Ex-Prime Minister and Convicted Criminal Thaskin Shinawatra | Right: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra
The Thai Government over the last two years has repeatedly announced radical improvements to their education system; notably employing more foreign teachers and removing the ‘no-fail’ populist policy. However the Thai Government last year announced a push-back from joining ASEAN simply because it was aware that Thais simply cannot complete on the open job market due to the abysmal state of education in the country which leave student ill equipped to compete with their foreign counterparts.
The real issue here is that once signed into ASEAN other member states citizens will be able to flood the Thai job market. With tourism alone it is likely that the tourism industry will turn its back on Thai workers and employ Filipino workers with greater language skills at the same cost.
As the job markets shrink no populist policy will enable the Thai Government to subdue the people and the people, due to their ignorance through the lack of education, simply will not be able to understand why their jobs are being stripped away by foreigners.
Thailand is a highly nationalistic and racist country, that can be testified with the high number of human rights abuses Thailand is continuously accused of and yet refuses to tackle – mainly because such abuses, such as child trafficking, slavery and forced prostitution are so lucrative.
Thailand is standing on the precipice looking into the abyss and yet there really is no way out. With each passing populist policy and with each dirty deal being done under the table Thailand is heading towards economic meltdown.
There are a few academics that are able to see through the agenda of the Thai Government, which is simply to allow those who have ultimate control to garner vast wealth; at the expense of the people.
The education system has been manipulated over the years in order to deliberately provide a sub-standard level of education in order to keep the population ignorant and therefore easy to control.
The issue here is what will happen to Thailand and its people when the bubble finally bursts? Some say this will result in an all out bloody civil war that could see Thailand being closed off from the rest of the world. Others believe that this scenario is being orchestrated by Thaskin Shinawatra who will then be able to return to Thailand, remove the monarchy and finally rule Thailand as its supreme ruler and be depicted as the countries saviour.
There are lots of conspiracy theories and while some have more merit than other there is little denying the stark truth that those in power will never experience a loss for they have all accumulated vast wealth at the expense of their peoples ignorance and even the populist policies the Thai Government have implemented.
Do you think the Thai economy will collapse if populist polices and corruption is not reined in? Leave your comments below.