THAI PM THREATENS LEGAL ACTION ON WEBSITES SPREADING RUMOURS OF SPOIL RICE – Rumours are rife regarding contaminated rice and the Thai Prime Minister has now warned the media that legal action will be taken against anyone who continues to spread the news.
No doubt Thailand’s internal press will start to move on to other subjects for such a threat can result in large payments having to be made and it’s nothing unusual for a journalist to be imprisoned or even murdered for publishing the truth.
Thailand has what can only be described as a very fragile democracy where democracy itself is merely a smoke screen that allows the powerful and wealthy to continue running the country with a firm grip for their own financial gain.
Thailand once the largest exporter of rice has fallen behind the likes of Vietnam and India due to the populist policy of the ‘rice pledge scheme’; or scam as many have reported.
The PM is worried that continued rumours alleging that mountains of stored rice are contaminated may cause Thailand to lose its reputation and credibility for producing high quality rice that is internationally accepted and well-known.
The truth this that Thailand has little or no credibility on the international stage due to its high levels of corruption and human rights abuses. Thailand credibility couldn’t get any lower and a few grains of contaminated rice really won’t make that much of a difference to its overall persona on the world stage.
The Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is a hapless leader but it is widely acknowledged that she is not the true force behind the Phue Thai Party but rather it’s her brother, Thaskin Shinawatra, former PM and convicted criminal who fled Thailand to avoid imprisonment.
The whole of the Thai Government is seen as little more than a farce. It is alleged that Yingluck rose to power on the back of her brother and more importantly his money which was liberally used to buy sufficient votes to secure her tenure.
The poor and ignorant were happy to take the money along with a number of promises to help boost their income including a hike in the minimum wage and the rice pledging scheme to farmers.
The rice pledging scheme has taken a dramatic toll on Thailand rice export ability and in fact pushed it from the top stop to fourth place.
The initial idea was to pay farmers twice what the rice was currently worth on the open market. The Thai Government then intended to store the rice to force the international market price of rice up. It was then perceived that the Thai Government would sell its stockpiles and make a profit.
What the Thai Government didn’t bank on was that India and Vietnam would ramp up production in order to keep the market price stable; which they successfully achieved and has left Thailand with vast stockpiles of rice that is now rotting and an ever decreasing position in the world rice market.
In a country that is dripping in corruption the situation is also exasperated by corrupt officials bumping up actual amounts grown. Reports earlier this year indicated that the Thai Government would initiate an investigation in to allegations of corruption.
How did the scam work? Reports indicate that an official would report say 40 tonnes of rice being produced while in reality only 30 tonnes was produced. This allows the official to make vast sums of money as the Government payout to the farmer, through the official’s office, twice the market rate. The official then pockets the surplus cash and reports that the rice has been placed in one of the hundreds of warehouses around the country.
In an initial investigation by anti-corruption departments it was noted that some warehouses were completely empty and yet official documentation detailed thousands of tonnes of rice was being stored.
The rice situation in Thailand is not going to get any better while the Government continue with its rice pledging scheme and whilst this is creating a massive financial hole in the budget the Government appears reluctant to end the madness.
Some report this is due to not wanting to lose face over a failed program while others think this is a lucrative method to continue stealing money from the Government coffers making the rich even richer.
What’s your take on the Rice Pledging Scheme? Leave your comments below.