Re: (The Nation) Thaksin wants no bad news
- From: pluto <pluto@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 07 Sep 2005 08:12:22 +0800
"On Wed, 07 Sep 2005 09:37:48 +1000, "Cold Pen @ Hot Mail"
<coldpen@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote/and/or quoted:
>I think he should stop saying anything. Everytime he said something,
>things went worse.
yes, k cold pen
[this was reported in iht on aug 17 and the situation has been going
downhill. the two los english newspapers bkkpost and nation are of no help
and it appears the proliteriat is having second thoughts about toxin.]
Thaksin's luster is starting to dim
By Nick Cumming-Bruce International Herald Tribune
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2005
CHIANG MAI, Thailand Skillfully working the shape of an elephant and jungle
foliage into a long slab of teak in his garden lean-to, Wongtong
Prasongsub, a wood carver, exemplifies the benefits of Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra's populist economic initiatives.
His village, Rong Kong Khao, like all of Thailand's 77,000 villages,
received one million baht, or $24,390, from the government three years ago
to provide small credits for local people.
A series of loans from the village fund enabled him to hire two to three
more carvers, depending on demand. That meant more production, more
clients, more sales and more money.
"Before I didn't have time to think," Wongtong said. "Now I have more
laborers, more work and more time."
Farther south, in Pong, farmers tell a different story. About 100 families
have tapped their village fund. Its bookkeeper, Kanoknan Kongnguen, says it
has "helped to release villagers from financial pressures and
But the attitude of borrowers is different. "It's like an injection," said
Samruay Saitong, one of the farmers. "You feel a short term boost, but then
it fades and you soon find you have more problems."
Some Thais are starting to say much the same about the election victory in
February that made Thaksin the first elected prime minister in Thailand to
win a second successive term in office, with a margin that gave him
absolute control of Parliament.
Thaksin "has become just another political leader now," said Thitinan
Pongsudhirak, a political commentator and lecturer at Chulalongkorn
University in Bangkok. "Even six months ago you would have said that
Thaksin's third term was not a problem. Now I would say that he will be
lucky to complete the second."
A combination of factors is doing the damage, analysts say. Thaksin's
inability to curb a violent insurgency in the south is one, corruption
scandals in his cabinet another. And waning economic fortunes are hitting
people just where they thought hoped Thaksin would make a difference - in
The prime minister's re-election capped five years in office during which
he seemed to bring to politics the flair that had helped turn Thaksin, a
former police officer, into a telecommunications tycoon and one of the
richest men in Thailand.
"He had this mystique and everything he touched seemed to come to
something," Thitinan said.
Less than half a year later, however, popular perceptions have shifted,
Thaksin started his years as prime minister as the savior of an economy
still struggling in the aftermath of the financial crisis that struck
Thailand and the rest of Asia in 1997. He paid off IMF credits early,
rebuilt depleted foreign exchange reserves and presided over a sharp
acceleration in the economy, with GDP growth rising from 2.2 percent in
2001 to nearly 7 percent in 2003.
Moreover he gave Thailand a new political and socioeconomic agenda, aiming
to change the shape of Thai society, with its broad base of the poor, into
one with far less poverty and a much-expanded middle class.
He broke the old mold of policies focused on Bangkok and turned to building
up the rural economy. The number of Thais in poverty did drop by about two
million from 2002 to the first half of 2004, according to World Bank
estimates. And campaigning for the election in February, Thaksin promised
to eliminate poverty in four years.
Much of the decline in poverty, however, resulted from economic growth
rather than government initiatives, economists say, and this year the
economic outlook has turned bleak.
Hit by the effects of the Dec. 26 tsunami, tourism stalled, and the rise in
oil prices has dealt a heavy blow to one of Asia's most fuel-inefficient
economies, pushing trade and current account balances deep in the red.
There is little evidence the village fund program has done much to increase
production, says Wichai Turongpun, a director of the National Institute of
Development Administration, who studied the fund in 19 provinces. Over
three years, he estimates, it contributed less than one percentage point of
As with other government initiatives, Wichai says, the program has suffered
from poor management by a government struggling to keep pace with the
Thaksin's many new programs.
"The rationale was admirable, but the implementation was shoddy and
incomplete," Thitinan said. "Unless Thaksin follows through, he will be
looked on in hindsight as merely an opportunist who sold big ideas without
That is not the feeling in Rong Kong Khao, where Somchit Yuenyao, secretary
of the committee that decides who gets the loans and how much, says the
village fund "has had a big impact on the economy here."
The repayment record on loans has been 100 percent, Somchit says..
Such has been the program's success that Rong Kong Khao is one of about 100
villages that will upgrade its fund to a mini-bank, taking in local savings
as well as making loans. Visitors come from other villages across Thailand
to learn the secrets of Rong Kong Khao's success, Somchit says.
Those visitors, however, also highlight problems that plague the program in
other places where local leaders lack the business skills required to
manage the money effectively.
Some villagers have squandered their loans buying mobile phones - even in
areas where they can't get a signal, says Suriyan Thongnosiad, an executive
of a nongovernment organization working with northern farmers.
"It helps," Suriyan says, "but it doesn't solve the problem of poverty."
The farmers in Ping are equally skeptical.
"Thaksin thinks poverty means people don't have access to money," said
Montri Bualoy, a farmer, but any benefits from the fund are small compared
to problems farmers face trying to establish ownership rights to the land
they cultivate and of how to turn a profit when costs are rising and the
prices of their produce are falling.
Discussions with Thaksin's ministers and officials seem to go nowhere, the
"He was good in the beginning but he's not so good any more, he's good for
people in the cities," said Kanoknan, the fund's bookkeeper. "It'll be
difficult for them to get my vote again."
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