Abhisit Vejjajiva, economic nationalist | 20.12.05

With a twist. The Democrat Party leader favors local businesses, as long as they are not connected to people in the government:

“ให้(ต่างชาติ) เลือกทำธุรกิจได้แทบทุกอย่างไม่เว้นแม้แต่ความมั่นคง ยกเว้นเรื่องเดียวที่รัฐบาลไม่เปิดโอกาสให้เข้ามาคือโทรคมนาคม”

“[The government] lets (foreigners) choose to do business in almost everything, not excepting even national security, [but] except the only one thing [industry] that the government doesn’t allow them to come in, that is telecommunication.”

Never mind that:

  • Norway’s Telenor ASA now owns 61% of UCOM and 48% of DTAC. The latter, as Thailand’s second largest mobile phone operator, competes directly and fiercely with Shin Corp’s AIS.
  • AIS, the industry leader, is 19% owned by Singapore’s Singtel.
  • The Thaksin government raised the ceiling on foreign telecom stakes from 25% to 49% back in 2002 and it was attacked for that, too (just as it had been when the limit was first promulgated — it’s all about enriching the Shinawatra family).
  • Telecommunication has always been one of the most protected industries in Thailand, just like, I believe, in many other countries.
  • Did someone say national security? Telecommunication has no security dimension, I suppose, not like real weapons and military hardware, which we have always imported.

The gall of this man. He must think his audience really stupid. Of course he’s right, but that doesn’t make it any less disgusting.

00:26 ▪ politics, media

« Spot the economic nationalist | Main | Pasuk Phongpaichit, pretender of economics »

1
tettyan 20.12.05

Tom says:

“The gall of this man. He must think his audience really stupid. Of course he’s right…”

For once we agree on something. Yes, you are correct - that’s exactly why Thaksin was elected in the first place :)

2
Tom Vamvanij 20.12.05

Tettyan:

There are dumb people and there are dumb people. I always prefer those who make the right choice for the wrong reason to those who make the wrong choice for the wrong reason.

Indeed, I won’t even say those who voted TRT in 2001 did so for the wrong reason. They liked the TRT’s specific promises and trusted in Thaksin’s personal achievements. Those reasons are far better than brand loyalty (particularly strong among Democrats by birth in the south) and some bizarre idolization of Chuan the career politician Leekpai (prevalent among foreign correspondents and other soi-dissant Thailand hands). Anyone remember the Democrats’ platform in 2001? Thought not.

3
Naphat 20.12.05

I think you (or Matichon?) quoted Abhisit out of context. What he is saying appears to be a direct criticism of the government’s Partner for Development initiative - and the fact that the program doesn’t include a telecom mega-project.

To me it seems a fair question - if we, for example, open up bidding of licenses for third generation (3G) mobile services internationally, we can probably get better prices.

Your first three bullet points are all quite correct, but they don’t give any reason for me to be peeved at Abhisit or make his question any less relevant.

I’m not sure what the intention of the last point was. Abhisit mentioned national security as one of the mega projects listed in the Partner for Develpment program (under 8. National Defence Technology ) and did not imply any link between national security and telecommunications. So I guess you are not faulting him in raising this point.

Note that, based on the little details we have, the military side of the mega-project is a little bit beyond normal procurement of military hardware:

Restructuring the armed forces to be compact… supporting the armed forces development plan of procuring defence equipment for 101 projects

Which seems to imply that private sector multinational manufacturers or consultancies will have a more advisory position in Thailand’s strategic military planning.

4
Tom Vamvanij 21.12.05

Naphat:

Welcome to Sarasonteh! I love reasoned disagreements.

I’m not sure what the intention of the last point was. Abhisit mentioned national security as one of the mega projects listed in the Partner for Development program (under 8. National Defence Technology ) and did not imply any link between national security and telecommunications. So I guess you are not faulting him in raising this point.

My two, quite separate, disagreements with Khun Abhisit on this point:

  1. He implied that national security should be out of reach for foreigners. That has never been the case, and perhaps never will be.
  2. Of course he was not implying any links between telecommunication and national security, he was doing the opposite. And he was wrong for that. (Note that he didn’t say “defense” and that I’m not advocating a protection of the telecom industry on national security grounds.)

Which seems to imply that private sector multinational manufacturers or consultancies will have a more advisory position in Thailand’s strategic military planning.

Sounds good to me. I don’t expect the Thai armed forces to be able to sort out something like this by themselves:

Although Thailand appreciates the prestige of military hardware, she is way behind Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and even Vietnam in submarine capability. Over the years, the RTN has acquired a mix of European, US and Chinese platforms-sometimes with tragic consequences, as they are not interoperable.

5
Tom Vamvanij 21.12.05

About the block quote

If you want to quote a paragraph or more, please use the bq. or bq.. syntaxes respectively. See this demo and this thread.

6
tettyan 21.12.05

Hey Tom -

Indeed, I won’t even say those who voted TRT in 2001 did so for the wrong reason. They liked the TRT’s specific promises and trusted in Thaksin’s personal achievements.

What do you mean by “Thaksin’s personal achievements?” Getting filthy rich off monopoly business contracts won through political connections to the corrupt Chatchai government (1988-1990)? If this is the “right” reason to vote for TRT, then I think the Thai people need a collective mental health examination.

While we’re on this topic, I and others would welcome your participation in the following thread:
link

Regards,

Tettyan

7
tettyan 21.12.05

Those reasons are far better than brand loyalty (particularly strong among Democrats by birth in the south) and some bizarre idolization of Chuan the career politician Leekpai (prevalent among foreign correspondents and other soi-dissant Thailand hands).

Down with all those “career” politicians!!!

I guess if there were an election tomorrow between Abraham Lincoln and Ross Perot, you’d have to go with Perot ;)

Merry X-mas!

-Tettyan

8
JW 22.12.05

What do you mean by “Thaksin’s personal achievements?” Getting filthy rich off monopoly business contracts won through political connections to the corrupt Chatchai government (1988-1990)?

I was tempted to register on 2Bangkok and reply to the posts there, but since you link to it in your comment and I have yet to register for 2Bangkok, I will reply here.

Are there any businesspersons in Thailand who have not had to use their personal connections to get ahead? Name one for me, I would be interested if such a person exists.

It is necessary part of doing business in Thailand (and elsewhere) that the person have significant personal connections to get ahead. This does not mean that everyone who uses their personal connections does succeed though, and this is a personal achievement of Thaksin.

9
tettyan 22.12.05

JW-

I wish you would log in to 2bangkok.com. We have a critical shortage of people there who have the courage to stand up for Thaksin. I have appealed numerous times for people with other points of view to post, to no avail. Please create an account there as soon as you can.

Are there any businesspersons in Thailand who have not had to use their personal connections to get ahead? Name one for me, I would be interested if such a person exists.

You should really read the 2bangkok thread more carefully. If you have, you would have seen that someone already posted a question like yours, and others have responded. I advise you especially to re-read the first 3 posts in the thread and then express what you think.

But let me ask you - how many majors or colonels do you know in the Pentagon who have set up procurement companies in order to sell computers to the US Army, Navy and Air Force?

Successful Thai businesses that havn’t depended on large-scale corruption? You can say what you’d like about CP now, but they didn’t depend on special government treatment to get started. Same goes for the Chirathivat family, who started out with just a tiny shop in Thonburi. Refer to the 2B thread for more examples. Of course, these days, with the wholesale corruption of the Thai state, it has become very difficult for a large business to survive without political connections.

If you knew a little Thai economic history, you’d know that the first generation of post-war Sino-Thai enterpreneurs (perhaps except the tax farmers, but they’re an earlier generation) didn’t have much to do with the government. Indeed, Field Marshal Phibul didn’t want much to do with them either - he distrusted them. Only with the success of the first generation of Chinese entrepreneurs did they begin to intermarry with the generals and Thai elite. That’s when you get the military-bureaucracy-big business nexus. Thaksin himself wasn’t particularly successful until he managed to win those sweetheart deals from the Chatchai government. The family’s other ventures that were subject to MARKET competition, like that movie theater in CM, failed spectacularly. Even Shin Silk isn’t doing very well.

Now, let’s just ignore what I just said and pretend that you’re right - that government “connections” are necessary to run a successful business in Thailand. Are you willing to defend this type of system? Wouldn’t you agree that Thailand needs to reform this system if the country is to develop further - both economically and politically? If so, what is the logic in handing the levers of power to a man who has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the existing system?!

Regards,

Tettyan

10
Tom Vamvanij 22.12.05

Tettyan:

Of course, these days, with the wholesale corruption of the Thai state, it has become very difficult for a large business to survive without political connections.

One reason I stay away from the 2bangkok.com forum is that this sort of incendiary hyperbole is considered an accepted fact over there. The forum’s manly-man “moderator” sure sets the tone well.

Regarding monopoly, for as long as I remember, AIS has always competed with DTAC for in the lucrative cell phone industry. (They were known respectively for their 900MHz and 800 MHz networks in the old days.) And the two did compete hard and prices did come down. A duopoly, of course, is not ideal but the high investment involved (plus the extra sum that you had to “pay to play”) presented a natural barrier to entry. It was not AIS’s or DTAC’s government connections that prevented another outfit from raising the fund and entering the market, as Orange did.

If you knew a little Thai economic history, you’d know that the first generation of post-war Sino-Thai enterpreneurs (perhaps except the tax farmers, but they’re an earlier generation) didn’t have much to do with the government. Indeed, Field Marshal Phibul didn’t want much to do with them either - he distrusted them.

JW knows Thai history quite well, probably better than I do in many areas. So I’m betting he knows what you said is wrong. Here’s from Sterling Seagrave’s Lords of the Rims (p.217):

To be sure, Chin was not the only Overseas Chinese businessman making use of high-level connections. No matter where they find themselves, Overseas Chinese have always found it essential to buy protection and patronage from ruling elites and senior military officers, who were willing to sit on their boards or share in their profits. Chin took pains to make it seem that he was only cultivating connections like everyone else, but he was widely regarded at the time as General Phao’s main business agent and his chief spokesman in Chinese circles. While Police General Phao was a director of Asia Trust, and chairman of Thai Financial Syndicate, another son-in-law of Field Marshal Phin and an aide of General Phao served as their proxies on the board of Bangkok Bank. Chin had become Phao’s chief business agent and banker.

With the police general and the field marshal as major shareholders, and the Commerce Ministry providing large deposits, Bangkok Bank was positioned to open its first overseas branches in Hong Kong in 1954 and Tokyo in 1955. Branches in Singapore and London followed in I957.

If I wanted to rebut JW’s argument, mentioning post-war Chinese Thais would be just about the last thing I’d do.

Now, let’s just ignore what I just said and pretend that you’re right - that government “connections” are necessary to run a successful business in Thailand. Are you willing to defend this type of system? Wouldn’t you agree that Thailand needs to reform this system if the country is to develop further - both economically and politically? If so, what is the logic in handing the levers of power to a man who has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the existing system?!

First of all, he is right, so let’s not pretend. That system has existed for a very long time and will continue to do so as long as Thai politics remains the way it has been. The biggest beneficiaries of that system are not the businessmen, who after all have to actually produce and sell things, but the politicians basically leech them. Back when Thaksin was still just one of Thailand’s richest businessmen, he was extremely popular with politicians of all stripes, and would have remained that way had he not entered politics. But he did, and he’s been a force for change. You think the change is for the worse; I think for the better. Let’s wait and see. But meanwhile, reactionary forces are helping me make my case by viciously opposing this government.

I guess if there were an election tomorrow between Abraham Lincoln and Ross Perot, you’d have to go with Perot ;)

You’re comparing Chuan Leekpai to Abraham Lincoln!? Sure, I may be biased against career politicians, especially those with no achievements to speak of, but you didn’t have to drag poor old Abe to that level to make the point. A thorough debunking of Chuan’s the “reformist” saint will have to wait, but I’d just like to point this out today. When Chuan ended his second term as prime minister, his declared assets were startlingly small, in the low seven figures. This despite decades of earning respectable income as an elected official (including six years as head of government) with only a mother (and perhaps an illegitimate child) to support. Is he a liar or a loser? Take your pick.

Merry Christmas to you, too. :-)

11
JW 24.12.05

I wish you would log in to 2bangkok.com. We have a critical shortage of people there who have the courage to stand up for Thaksin. I have appealed numerous times for people with other points of view to post, to no avail. Please create an account there as soon as you can.”

Give me some time. I am writing a long article at my own site which I need to finish. The problem with posting to a forum like 2Bangkok is that when you take a position which is different from everyone else is that you are the only one who is defending your position and before just going on a rant the time it takes to defend your position.

I should also point out I am certainly not Thaksin’s biggest fan and I certainly don’t agree with everything that Thaksin says. I see Thaksin as more the lesser of two evils.

You should really read the 2bangkok thread more carefully.”

I will concede you are right. I just got annoyed after the first page.

But let me ask you - how many majors or colonels do you know in the Pentagon who have set up procurement companies in order to sell computers to the US Army, Navy and Air Force?”

You are stretching my knowledge of the US military a little too far. Both Democrats and Republicans have had their problems with, at least, allegations of corruption in relation to the Pentagon.

Also, I don’t quite get the relevance though of the comparision with the US. But there are plenty of stories of ex-officials setting up businesses dealing with the Pentagon.

Now, for a personal antecodote, I know someone in Bangkok whose father was a senior police officer - his specific rank escapes me, but before his last job he was the Superintendent of a high profile Bangkok Police Station. This police officer’s wife had a large construction business and won a police contract. They mentioned this to me and said it would be impossible for them to have won the contract without having connections. This occurred while Chuan was the Prime Minister.

This does not mean I approve of corruption, but it is not going to go away overnight. Don’t expect me to be so excited or annoyed at something which happened 20 years ago.

If you knew a little Thai economic history, you’d know that the first generation of post-war Sino-Thai enterpreneurs (perhaps except the tax farmers, but they’re an earlier generation) didn’t have much to do with the government. Indeed, Field Marshal Phibul didn’t want much to do with them either - he distrusted them.”

Read Tom’s post for this comment and the rest of your comments. Corruption didn’t start with Thaksin. It is only in the last 10 years that Thai society has really started to care about corruption.

I do wish Thaksin had made more progress on ending corruption in Thailand, but at least Thaksin is trying to implement public sector reform and for me this is an important factor in reducing corruption in Thailand to a manageable level. I do think that Thaksin is on the right track as corruption is falling.

If you don’t believe me that corruption is falling, have a look at this post of mine. I have figures from Transparency International to back me up.

12
tettyan 24.12.05

Well gentlemen, where should I begin?

The problem with posting to a forum like 2Bangkok is that when you take a position which is different from everyone else is that you are the only one who is defending your position and before just going on a rant the time it takes to defend your position.

Exactly how I feel about this board. Just as the 2B forum is in danger of degenerating into an all-out Thaksin hate-fest (despite our numerous appeals for people with different points of view to post), so I feel this board often feels like a groupthink session of like-minded anti-anti-Thaksin posters.

Regarding monopoly, for as long as I remember, AIS has always competed with DTAC for in the lucrative cell phone industry. (They were known respectively for their 900MHz and 800 MHz networks in the old days.) And the two did compete hard and prices did come down.

Yes, AIS has had competition, but it has not by any means been competing on a level playing field. As a direct concessionaire of TOT, AIS does not have to pay interconnection fees to TOT. DTAC, TA Orange and Hutch, on the other hand, as concessionaires of CAT, do have to pay interconnection fees to TOT. So no matter how bitter the price wars, AIS always can make a much higher profit while charging the same prices as its competition. It may not be monopoly in the literal sense, but having just laid out the facts, I’ll leave it to you to judge.

Unfortunately, that will have to be all for now. I am very busy around now, and look forward to answering all your points after the new year. I do encourage you both to post more at 2Bangkok.com. Tom, I really mean it when I say that we genuinely miss you over there.

13
tettyan 24.12.05

BKK Pundit -

I’d respond over at your website, but I don’t have the time to sign up for an account there now.

If you don’t believe me that corruption is falling, have a look at this post of mine. I have figures from Transparency International to back me up.

TI’s survey is just one survey. I have always had problems with TI’s methadology. They try to measure PERCEPTIONS of corruption based on surveys of international businessmen. It doesn’t measure corruption directly. Moreover, the object of the survey - corruption perceptions, is so broadly defined so broad that it comprimises the survey’s usefulness.

The World Bank’s Governance Indicators Index, on the other hand, is more specific. This survey, conducted every 2 years, measures six catagories: “Voice & Accountability”, “Political Stability”, “Government Effectiveness”, “Regulatory Quality”, “Rule of Law”, and “Control of Corruption”.

On “Voice & Accountability”, Thailand’s score fell in 2002 and 2004, relative to 2000. The “Political Stability” score improved slightly from 2000 to 2002, but then fell sharply in 2004. “Government effectiveness” showed a small improvement in 2002, but then declined slightly in 2004.

The next measures have particularly important implications for Thailand’s economy. On “regulatory quality”, the country’s score in 2000 was higher than in any other catagory. Since then, Thailand’s score has fallen sharply, both in 2002 and 2004. On the “Rule of Law”, the most glaring weak point of this administration, Thailand’s score also fell sharply in 2002 and 2004, compared to 2000.

Finally, on “Control of Corruption,” Thailand has shown slight but consitent decline in both 2002 and 2004.

Take a look at the data for yourself at: http://info.worldbank.org/governance/kkz2004/sc_chart.asp

Despite what critics of Thaksin say, corruption in Thailand is falling and is not on the rise.

I’m afraid to say that you have your work cut out in proving this.

Regards,

Tettyan

14
Tom Vamvanij 26.12.05

Tettyan:

TI’s survey is just one survey. I have always had problems with TI’s methadology. They try to measure PERCEPTIONS of corruption based on surveys of international businessmen.

If TI said Thailand is becoming more corrupt, you’d be citing it and I’d be saying it’s only based on perceptions. The difference, though, is that you have the sensationalist and biased media, in Thai and in English, fanning the flames of perceptions your way by channeling “academics” and opposition figures who in turn channel the media.

The World Bank’s Governance Indicators Index, on the other hand, is more specific.

But still based on perceptions:

Note: The governance indicators presented here reflect the statistical compilation of responses on the quality of governance given by a large number of enterprise, citizen and expert survey respondents in industrial and developing countries, as reported by a number of survey institutes, think tanks, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations. The aggregate indicators in no way reflect the official position of the World Bank, its Executive Directors, or the countries they represent. As discussed in detail in the accompanying papers, countries’ relative positions on these indicators are subject to margins of error that are clearly indicated. Consequently, precise country rankings should not be inferred from this data.

TI, at the very least, is up front about this.

Finally, on “Control of Corruption,” Thailand has shown slight but consitent decline in both 2002 and 2004.

In this most germane of indicators, you got it totally wrong:

YearPercentile Rank
200449.3
200247.4
200047.8

Higher percentile rank is better.

Not that I think these numbers mean much about anything, but if you want to quote them, at least quote them right.

15
tettyan 27.12.05

Tom,

Yes, thanks for correcting the oversight. My point still stands though - if you’re gonna cite international surveys, Thaksin’s record on corruption is mixed at the very best (in contrast to BKK Pundit’s contention).

The difference, though, is that you have the sensationalist and biased media, in Thai and in English, fanning the flames of perceptions your way by channeling “academics” and opposition figures who in turn channel the media.

Yes, and I’m sure that MCOT, ITV, Thai Rath and Daily News are impartial propogators of truth. Why do you never take these guys to task? I mean, each one of them probably carries more weight than the so-called “anti-Thaksin” media does combined.

I’m still interested in hearing what you think about what I had to say about AIS’s concession.

Regards,

Tettyan

16
KCUS KCID 27.12.05

To whom it may concern,
If your having difficulty understanding WBI, I would suggest for you to go back to grade school. Your ability to understand higher level data would be highly undependable.
Thankyou

17
Tom Vamvanij 27.12.05

Tettyan:

My point still stands though - if you’re gonna cite international surveys, Thaksin’s record on corruption is mixed at the very best (in contrast to BKK Pundit’s contention).

For your own sake, stop digging. JW specifically and, unlike you, correctly cited Transparency International. TI numbers are not mixed. To modify your phrase, Thailand has shown slight but consistent improvements in that index over the past four years.

Those numbers prove nothing, of course. Nothing other than that the VOA report that cited TI and that JW was debunking is disingenuous.

Yes, and I’m sure that MCOT, ITV, Thai Rath and Daily News are impartial propogators of truth. Why do you never take these guys to task?

The same reason I never take the Thai Post and Naew Na to task, I don’t read them. In fact, to keep myself sane, I’m not a regular consumer of any Thai news outlet, and accordingly do not regularly write about any of them. The Bangkok Post takes the most beating from me only because I sometimes glance at the front page headlines and every now and then venture beyond. Even so, there are countless biased and inaccurate Post reports and commentaries that I passed up simply because I was just too sick and tired of acting as a bathroom janitor of news and information.

That’s the feeling I’m starting to get on this thread. You implied that the Daily News is pro-Thaksin. Wrong. Check out this headline from today if your Thai, like JW’s and Post Staffer’s, is good enough.

Now I do hear that Thai Rath is supposed to be pro-Thaksin, and I have no doubt it is less anti than most other newspapers. But the only time I’ve read it in recent memory, during the Matichon takeover brouhaha, it was having a field day with the government-vs-free-press angle, just like all the other papers were (I have a long post related to this coming up). A Thai journalist’s allegiance belongs first and foremost to his professional tribe, and the tribe as a whole is now decidedly against this government.

Are MCOT and ITV different? To answer that properly, I need a separate entry. But for now, if you follow my “sick and tired” link, you’ll find a link to this Thaivisa.com thread that opens with a dutiful report of Thirayuth Boonmi’s pronouncements by the MCOT’s Thai News Agency:

Corruption set to explode, predicts academic

BANGKOK: — A renowned Thai political critic has predicted a major increase in corruption under the new government.

The Thai Rak Thai (TRT)’s landslide victory in the general election early this month will significantly change every aspect of the Thai society, the academic and political critic, Theerayuth Boonmee, has warned.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s one-party government, which will be formed soon, should be classified as a dictatorial government because of its tight grip over the parliament, he said.

[Emphasis mine.]

What did you say about the MCOT again? Your attempted irony would work for me, too.

In the same matter-of-fact fashion, ITV reported Sondhi’s talk show last Friday, as I believe it does every friday.

18
tettyan 28.12.05

Tom,

Thanks for the remarks. It’s great that you’re backing up JW’s position here, but I think he’s perfectly capapable of speaking for himself. Now, what about that post on AIS that I addressed to you? Should I expect to not hear a response from you about that?

Regards,

tettyan

19
JW 28.12.05

My point still stands though - if you’re gonna cite international surveys, Thaksin’s record on corruption is mixed at the very best (in contrast to BKK Pundit’s contention).

Ok, I think the record shows that the international surveys cited actually show since Thaksin has been in office corruption (or perceptions of it) are falling.

You can disagree with their conclusions, but you can’t disagree with what they actually say.

20
tettyan 28.12.05

Dear JW,

You can disagree with their conclusions, but you can’t disagree with what they actually say.

Thanks for the clarification. This is a bit different from what I understood when reading the post on your blog. Now we’re finally getting somewhere.

Best,

Tettyan

21
JW 28.12.05

Tettyan

I don’t think that anyone really takes Thairath to be a serious political newspaper. I take the odd look at their frontpage, but they like to specialise in sensational crime stories, with gory pictures to boot!, and entertainment gossip. If some Thai soap opera star has broken up with their girlfriend/boyfriend it will be front page news. All Thai newspapers do this to some extent, but to me Thairath often takes it to a different level. I find their political coverage to be very limited or mild in comparision with the Manager. You wan’t find them calling Abhisit crazy. If I was to ever spot a Thairath political article which I thought was just plain wrong, I would point it out.

I would say that MCOT’s political stance is not easy to categorise as they have a TV station, multiple radio stations, and website content. It is not just one political viewpoint. MOCT’s news coverage is really just limited to publishing whatever anyone says whether it is pro-Thaksin or anti-Thaksin (Tom gives an example above). Yes, this does mean that they do often though just carry the government line with no analysis. I am waiting to criticise them, but haven’t found a recent topic yet which stands out. If I see something from MCOT on the Deep South which I can turn into a post, I will do so.

However, MCOT’s political talkshow, Teung Luuk Teung Kon is almost always politically neutral - to me it is the only decent Thai language “news” program to watch.

22
tettyan 21.01.06

Happy New Year Tom and JW!

As promised, now that I finally have a little bit of free time on my hands, perhaps it’s time to answer all your comments about my posts.

Tom says-

One reason I stay away from the 2bangkok.com forum is that this sort of incendiary hyperbole is considered an accepted fact over there. The forum’s manly-man “moderator” sure sets the tone well.

Lighten up! I think the record shows that we at the 2B forum treat all posters with equal respect and refrain from personal attacks, no matter what your one’s may be. And I certainly have never attacked you personally for the way you conduct yourself on this blog. So please leave poor Mr. Morris (the 2B moderator) alone! You only risk soiling your own credibility with these kind of statements that have no relevance the real isues.

Tom also says -

First of all, he is right, so let’s not pretend. That system has existed for a very long time and will continue to do so as long as Thai politics remains the way it has been. The biggest beneficiaries of that system are not the businessmen, who after all have to actually produce and sell things, but the politicians basically leech them. Back when Thaksin was still just one of Thailand’s richest businessmen, he was extremely popular with politicians of all stripes, and would have remained that way had he not entered politics. But he did, and he’s been a force for change.

You seem to have little trouble making a simplistic distinction “businessmen” and politicians. But especially in the Thai context, it is difficult to determine where to draw the line between “politics” and “business.” So how can you definitively say that the “politicians” are the main beneficiaries of “that system”?

You say Thaksin has been a force of change to the longstanding system of Thailand’s political economy. Can you artculate how and why?

Tom says -

You’re comparing Chuan Leekpai to Abraham Lincoln!? Sure, I may be biased against career politicians, especially those with no achievements to speak of, but you didn’t have to drag poor old Abe to that level to make the point. A thorough debunking of Chuan’s the “reformist” saint will have to wait, but I’d just like to point this out today.

I look forward to reading your “thorough debunking of Chuan’s ‘reformist’ saint.” That said Tom, my intention was not to compare Chuan to Lincoln. But you’re the one who tagged Chuan with the pejorative label of “career politician” - a fact which I don’t see to be particularly relevant to the issues we’re trying to discuss. If you’ve got something against Chuan or any other public figure we’re discussing, be upfront about it - and let’s talk! Don’t just run around calling people names.

When Chuan ended his second term as prime minister, his declared assets were startlingly small, in the low seven figures. This despite decades of earning respectable income as an elected official (including six years as head of government) with only a mother (and perhaps an illegitimate child) to support. Is he a liar or a loser? Take your pick.

Your multiple choice question here gives me only two choices. But I won’t complain that this is a “distorted” poll based on a “loaded” question. Rather, I’ll leave it to the words of someone else.

ฝ่ายค้านเนี่ย หัวหน้าฝ่ายค้านเขาก็ ไม่ทราบเขาพอเพียงหรือเปล่า แต่อย่างน้อยอดีต… อดีตหัวหน้าพรรคเขาพอเพียง… พอเพียงอย่างมากๆ เขาทำอะไรที่ ทำให้ที่ประเทศชาติใช้เงินนิดเดียว ไม่พอ เขาถึงต้องออก

JW says -

You are stretching my knowledge of the US military a little too far. Both Democrats and Republicans have had their problems with, at least, allegations of corruption in relation to the Pentagon.
Also, I don’t quite get the relevance though of the comparision with the US. But there are plenty of stories of ex-officials setting up businesses dealing with the Pentagon.

Yes, I know plenty of US military officers who ended up working for contractors AFTER they left the service. But Thaksin set himself up as a contractor while still an active duty officer! In the US (or Japanese or European) context, this would be considered unheard of, outrageous and illegal.

JW says -

I do wish Thaksin had made more progress on ending corruption in Thailand, but at least Thaksin is trying to implement public sector reform and for me this is an important factor in reducing corruption in Thailand to a manageable level. I do think that Thaksin is on the right track as corruption is falling.

Please explain to me how the public service “reforms” that Thaksin is implementing will reduce corruption? You complain that the Democrats were vague on their promises of reform, but I have yet to see anything concrete out of TRT. I mean, Thaksin has had 5 straight years in power with an absolute majority (a chance the Democrats never had) and agencies like the Customs Dept is still as rotton as ever! Now, he’s embarking on his third anti-corruption “crusade” and all we hear are yawns from the public.

Personally, I feel that the key to cleaning up corruption is ensuring that a sense of the “rule of law” take root among all people at all levels of society. And Thaksin’s record on “rule of law” issues to date are, shall I say, a bit patchy? To start, how does the extrajudicial execution of 1000 alleged drug dealers improve respect for the rule of law?

More to come …

23
tettyan 21.01.06

To Tom and JW -

…a continuation of my previous post.

Tom says -

The same reason I never take the Thai Post and Naew Na to task, I don’t read them. In fact, to keep myself sane, I’m not a regular consumer of any Thai news outlet, and accordingly do not regularly write about any of them. The Bangkok Post takes the most beating from me only because I sometimes glance at the front page headlines and every now and then venture beyond. Even so, there are countless biased and inaccurate Post reports and commentaries that I passed up simply because I was just too sick and tired of acting as a bathroom janitor of news and information.

Well that’s very interesting, Tom. I thought you said you were writing a book about the Thai media. Well, as a non-consumer of “any Thai news outlet”, that should make for a pretty interesting book.

Tom says -

In the same matter-of-fact fashion, ITV reported Sondhi’s talk show last Friday, as I believe it does every friday.

The Washington Post has a habit every now and then of printing articles by Bob Woodward that flatter the Bush Administration. So does that make the Post a pro-Bush newspaper? Well, check out this interesting study on US media bias and judge for yourself - link

It would be interesting to attempt that kind of study on the Thai media. Without one, we only have anecdotes and impressions to go with. So let’s see - how much space did Thai Rath devote to the censure debate on the CTX scandal again? As much as they did to the Sor Por Kor scandal that brought Chuan down in 1995 - when they ran stories on the scandal on the front page for months nonstop? And how long did it finally take before MCOT put out its first story about Sondhi’s gatherings and his gag order back in November? And what about the protests at Government House last week? Oh yeah, there was no need for the networks to cover that - the PM brought the matter up himself on Channel 11 the next day during his weekly address. As I recall, he suggested that the protestors should be institutionalized. Very statesman-like behavior, if you ask me.

Sincerely,

Tettyan

24
Tom Vamvanij 21.01.06

Tettyan:

So please leave poor Mr. Morris (the 2B moderator) alone!

Is Ron Morris the moderator? Certainly not on the thread that you yourself linked to.

I invite everyone with high tolerance for rabid invectives in abominable English to follow the link and see for yourself who I was talking about and whether this is someone you would like in your discussion group, let alone as a moderator. (I’m not one to make fun of people’s English, knowing full well that mine isn’t perfect, either. But follow the link and you’ll see what I mean.)

You only risk soiling your own credibility with these kind of statements that have no relevance the real isues.

You encouraged me twice on this very thread to post on the 2bangkok forum, and I gave the reason I don’t. If it’s not a real issue then don’t bring it up. I don’t like getting my thread hijacked either.

Frankly, I’d start worrying seriously about my credibility if I totally misrepresented the statistics that was supposed to be my trump card, mistook the identity of the moderator of a forum that I actively participated in and invited others to join, and then wrongly accused someone else of going off-topic even as I continued to introduce new ones.

Add to that a bunch of unsupported and arguably unsupportable snide remarks, some of which I’ve already countered, it’s well beyond three strikes for you, Tettyan. No, no, you may very well stay. But I’m out of here.

25
tettyan 21.01.06

Tom,

Is Ron Morris the moderator? Certainly not on the thread that you yourself linked to. I invite everyone with high tolerance for rabid invectives in abominable English to follow the link and see for yourself who I was talking about and whether this is someone you would like in your discussion group, let alone as a moderator. (I’m not one to make fun of people’s English, knowing full well that mine isn’t perfect, either. But follow the link and you’ll see what I mean.)

Ah yes, you’re talking about Wiz (Wisarut). He’s a moderator for the transport threads. He dabbles on the politics boards, but if you’ve noticed, we usually don’t answer him unless he really does have something useful to say. While I can see how his somewhat pointless antics can rile some nerves, I don’t believe that as an excuse to attack him personally.

You can say whatever you want about me. But I’m going to stay civilized and reserve any personal comments I have about other posters.

Cordially,

Tettyan

26
Tom Vamvanij 27.03.06

Tettyan:

I look forward to reading your “thorough debunking of Chuan’s ‘reformist’ saint.”

It’s not one of my most comprehensive posts, but try this: People’s Constitution™, not Chuan’s.