I’ve been enjoying Dr. Thitinan’s op-ed’s in the Bangkok Post and his latest one provides a succinct summary of what happened in the past and how politics in Thailand today should evolve in order for the country to continue developing. Here’s some snippets and a link to the rest of the op-ed

  • In the pre-crisis months, Thailand ran a current account deficit of 8%, but now the equivalent is 11.5% in surplus. On the other hand, external debt in the run-up to the crisis was US$110 billion, and its short-term portion was 140% of foreign reserves. Today, external debt exceeds $131 billion but only 32% for short-term repayments in proportion to foreign reserves. Having sank from 25 to over 40 per dollar in the eight years since its float, the baht’s real effective exchange rate depreciated by more than 25% during the decade from the mid-1990s. Today, the Thai currency has been calculated as 12% cheaper than it was as a pegged currency, rendering Thailand an attractive investment destination. 
  • In 1997, Thai politics was looking up. The Thai people managed to come up with a reform-driven constitution that promised to take their country to greater democratisation, away from the “money politics” of patronage and graft and its attendant cycle of corruption, coups and constitutions. The 1997 charter was equipped with checks-and-balance mechanisms and independent watchdog institutions to promote transparency and accountability.
  • Gen Prem also empowered technocrats to run the economy and insulated them from vested interests. These are the two prerequisites for Thailand’s next leader if any sort of civil-military power-sharing is to emerge.

Source: Bangkok Post

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