“A Year After Thai Coup, Stability Trumps Growth for Business”
Reuters, May 21, 2015
“When Thailand’s army seized power in a bloodless coup, much of the business establishment quietly cheered them on. A year on, the captains of Thai industry remain firmly behind the junta, despite a lackluster economy and a delayed return to democracy. For businesses, calm on the streets of a city that was engulfed in chaos for months leading up to a putsch is more important than finding a cure for the malaise in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy. … Ronnachit Mahattanapreut, senior vice president for finance at hotel and food group Central Plaza Hotel PCL said what the private sector wanted most was security. ‘We want political stability so that businessmen can project long-term investment plans,’ he said. ‘Countries like China, Vietnam and Myanmar, their governments can implement key economic policies to keep investments going.’ … Despite hopes that the generals would unleash a splurge of infrastructure spending, state investment has failed to keep pace even with the levels the paralyzed government of a year ago managed, partly because bureaucrats fear an anti-graft drive by the junta. Domestic consumption is hobbled as Thai households are saddled with record-high debt and the export-driven economy is suffering as its biggest trade partner, China, grows at its slowest pace in 25 years. Thailand downgraded its growth forecasts on Monday by 0.5 percentage points to 3.0 to 4.0 percent for the year, but the country’s central bank governor said last week that even 3 percent expansion in 2015 would be ‘a challenge’.”
Quickie analysis: For Thais, democracy still just isn’t worth it.