For some reason, a number of media have been spinning out unsourced reports about foreign investors having concerns over the stunning electoral victory of Yingluck Shinawatra and the Pheu Thai Party, but of course the opposite is true. Not only has the stock market surged with investor confidence since the elections, but we are also talking about the party with experience of running one of the best economies in Southeast Asia (during Thaksin’s tenure, Thailand averaged 5.7% GDP growth a year). If you start talking to any seasoned political risk analysts and market experts, it’s not the Red Shirts or the “populism” or the protests that pose any threat to stability. It’s the Army, the Democrat Party, and the corrupt members of the elite that have repeatedly sought to reverse democratic outcomes and install unpopular leaders who pose the greatest risk to stability.
Here’s an interview with one financial analyst that hasn’t totally lost the plot:
The decisive election victory won by Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatwa, should be welcomed by investors.
King Fuei Lee, head of Asia equities at Schroders says: “We view the outcome of elections as a positive development for Thailand’s economy and its markets, and it should bring much-needed political stability to the country.”
According to a report on Bloomberg Thailand’s benchmark stock index could rise by 11 per cent by the end of the year as a result of Yingluck Shinawatra’s victory. (…)
Schroder’s Fuei Lee says the economic fundamentals of Thailand are strong, while Yingluck Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai party is expected to bring foreign investment back into the country.
“News of the decisiveness of the victory allayed market fears of a hung result and an ensuing political impasse. We view the outcome as a positive development for Thailand’s economy and its markets, and it should bring much-needed political stability to the country.“
“The risk, however, remains that the Democrats and/or the military might stage a revolt. The likelihood of this occurring is, at present, very low in light of the Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva conceding defeat and the army announcing that it had accepted the poll verdict and would not intervene.
“Away from the politics, we view the economic fundamentals of Thailand as strong, with growth driven by demographics and urbanisation.
Despite reports of irregularities, confrontations, and all the other drama that comes with an election process in a nation of 67 million people, tonight early results from Thailand’s general election indicate a crushing victory for the opposition Pheu Thai Party with about 264 out of 500 seats in parliament, making Yingluck Shinawatra the first female prime minister of Thailand. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva conceded the defeat on national television, and extended his congratulations to his opponents.
When I started working with the Red Shirt movement one year ago, it is hard to look back at everything that has transpired without feeling amazed about the transformation that has taken place. A year ago, our movement had been written off as finished. Our leaders were in prison, on the run, or silenced by the strict conditions attached to their bail. Our organization had been disrupted by mass arrests, military intimidation, as well as the censorship of our main publications, radio stations, and television channel. Worst of all, the government’s campaign of psychological warfare appeared to have persuaded the public that the massacre of ninety-two people was not only justified, but somehow not nearly as tragic than the loss of a few buildings.
People were so scared to talk about the killings they witnessed, and terrified to publicly show disagreement with the government (a fact demonstrated by the solitary one-man protests of Sombat Boonngamanong to hang a banner at Ratchaprasong).
Just as Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva gave himself top marks for his administration, and as the Democrat Party signaled it was in campaign mode, the news from a very large survey by the King Prajadhipok Institute must he a worry.
The survey of 30,000 found that the “Thaksin Shinawatra administration is the most popular government with Thais over the past eight years.”
The following rebuttal to an earlier article is featured on Foreign Policy:
The former Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra was recently featured in a negative light in Foreign Policy (“Bad Exes,” Oct. 1, 2010). As legal counsel to the prime minister, I would urge your readers to take a closer look at why he remains so popular among Thai voters.
I am privileged to represent the only leader in the history of Thailand since the establishment of the constitutional structure in Thailand in 1932 to complete a full four-year term of office (2001-2005). Prime Minister Thaksin and his Thai Rak Thai party were then re-elected with the first single-party parliamentary majority supported by unsurpassed numbers of the citizens he served. Having won seventy-five percent of the seats in the 2005 elections, his administration only ended after an illegal coup, led by generals and shadowy members of Thailand’s elite, in September 2006. Today, four years after the coup, we are required to defend him from a well-oiled propaganda machine that defames him on a daily basis, with the full weight of a strangled media, rubber-stamp courts and absurd parliamentary resolutions at its disposal.
The recent decision by a Thai appeals court to extradite the alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout, touted as the “Merchant of Death” in popular books and movies, raised many hopes that this important case would finally see trial before a U.S. court. This opportunity, however, may yet be squandered, as the jet meant to transport one of the world’s most wanted prisoners sits waiting on a Bangkok runway for almost a week now with the extradition process stalled.
The allegations against Bout, which are well documented by Amnesty International, the United Nations, and a number of other NGOs, may yet be outweighed by the complex political considerations, as Russia, the United States, and Thailand assemble to form a Bermuda Triangle of disappearing accountability.
The saga of the “merchant of death” Viktor Bout has taken a stunning new turn.
Last week, a Thai appeals court reversed a lower court judgment and ordered the Russian citizen extradited to the United States. This was clearly in response to heavy pressure placed by the American government on the shoulders of Abhisit’s administration, which is desperate to avoid further international condemnation. Apparently, the United States went so far as to summon the Thai Ambassador to the State Department and read him the riot act, while a group of Congressmen wrote a letter raising questions about Thailand’s “Major Non-NATO Ally” status.
In the midst of a “reset” in US-Russia relations, Bout is connected to one of the most ruthless clans that dominate the Kremlin’s political landscape (see the main blog for more on this clan). It is believed by many that Bout was part of a deal engineered by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to provide support to the FARC rebels in Colombia. The series of arms and energy deals concluded by the two nations in recent years cemented, on the one hand, Chavez’s commitment to Russia’s policy of energy market disruption and, on the other, reaffirmed Russia’s support for Chavez’s campaign to destabilize its neighbors in Latin America.
“The government should be more accommodating, should be more prepared to talk, should show some sincerity toward reconciliation,” Noppadon Pattama, a former foreign minister, said in an interview yesterday.
Noppadon is advocating for the U.S. to encourage the Thai government to be more open to opposition views and involvement in political reconciliation after deadly protests in May. He said his Facebook page, bank accounts and credit cards have been blocked by the Thai government, and he financed the three-day trip to the U.S. with loans from friends and supporters. (…)
Noppadon came to Washington with a “peace plan” that calls for a new general election “sooner rather than later.” Other criteria include lifting the state of emergency the government has imposed, releasing political detainees, lifting the ban on media outlets that support the opposition and amending the constitution.
“We think the present constitution is very undemocratic because it was put in place by the junta, the coup group,” Noppadon said.
Today the Kingdom of Thailand is in mourning. I join all Thai patriots in their immediate call for calm, order, and non-violence, and fully condemn the actions of those who acted with opportunism and impunity to cause reckless damage in Bangkok, which is completely alien to the cause of the protest movement.
It is a dark day for Thailand’s battered democracy. More than 67 Thai citizens, including some soldiers and foreign journalists, have lost their lives since April 10 as a result of state violence and human rights abuses, and this is an appalling and unacceptable reality for the government to face before international law.