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Thailand at the crossroads. The anti-government protesters vs Thai establishment – VIDEO

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Thailand at the crossroads. The anti-government protesters vs Thai establishment – VIDEO | The Thaiger
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This video provides some background of the protests and their challenge ahead. They are battling a deeply entrenched “establishment”, including the Army, the government, the Bangkok ‘elite’ and years of conservative traditions protecting the revered Thai monarchy. The protesters are young, educated and motivated. The government controls the levers of power. What will happen?

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Whilst the daily media coverage of the current protests in Thailand might give you the impression that Thailand is in some sort of chaotic mess, it’s really nothing like that.

Yes, there are some protests going on in isolated parts of the city. Yes, they’re disruptive to local traffic and they are getting plenty of media attention. But the vast majority of Thais, whilst many will be keeping abreast of the developments, are just getting on with their life and much of what you’d call Thai life is bubbling along like usual.

On the other hand Thailand is coming to terms with an economy mostly devoid of tourism. People are rearranging their lives and finding new jobs, but again, it’s not as if there are long lines of unemployed, beggars or starving people. In most locations around Thailand, leaving out some of the tourist hot spots, like Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui, life is just plugging on. Even in those locations, once out of the touristy parts, the local economies are adapting and managing.

The people losing their work from tourism have, mostly, headed home to their families and are getting absorbed into family businesses or community life. It’s a cultural resilience that is helping Thailand adapt and survive, even thrive in some sectors, during the worldwide pandemic.
There isn’t even any tangible link between the two issues – the Covid-19 pandemic and the current protest movement. The push for change of the political status quo has been brewing ever since the current government seized power in 2014, firstly as an Army-led coup against the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, and then after the March 2019 election, when the coup leaders were able to cobble together a workable, and at least on paper, legitimate government.

But be assured, Covid-19 pandemic or not, this protest movement would have surfaced anyway and is driven by idealism and political evolution, not the pandemic or economy. The protesters are mostly educated students from middle class families and they’ve never once made mention of the lack of tourists or even the broader Thai economy. They’re not disaffected opposition politicians, or even identify with the old red shirt/yellow shirt protests. They are mostly fresh, younger voices.

The protesters’ demands have been unfalteringly consistent. Based on a 10 point manifesto, first read out at Thammasat University’s Rangsit Campus on August 10 this year.

The demands are that the Thai PM resign, that the parliament is dissolved for a fresh election, that a new constitution is written to replace the 2017 Charter and that officials stop harassing protesters and people speaking out against the government. Most of those would be the sorts of things you may expect from opposition MPs or anti-government protesters. But this time they spiced up their wish list with a controversial demand for changes in the role of the country’s revered monarchy. They have strenuously denied that they want to get rid of the Thai monarchy, instead, they want a new constitution to codify the role of the Thai monarch and limit the powers which they claim, are currently unfettered.

The hurdle for change, however, is that the current system is stacked against just about everything the protesters are demanding, especially the changes to the role of the Thai monarchy.

For any of these changes to take place there will have to be a national consensus, a new constitution and some sort of response, even involvement from the Palace.

The students are demanding change, now, but the reality is that, for a peaceful transition, there will certainly need to be constructive discussions, a desire to change and a passage of time. None of that, given the history of Thai coups and the role of the Army, appears likely at the moment.

Whilst the government is trying to diffuse the situation by calling emergency sessions of parliament, even offers to drops the State of Emergency or release some of the arrested protesters, there is still an enormous political gulf between the demands of the protesters and the government’s preparedness to change.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Joe

    October 22, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    Funny today in the Bangkok Post there was an article from one of the country’s leading economists saying how much the country was suffering economically with many businesses all over the country either already closed or on the edge of bankruptcy and that this was a major reason for the protests. The Thaiger on the other hand is saying everything is just dandy economy wise. Maybe the Thaiger should do more research before uttering this nonsense, anyone who has been following the news lately will know that Thailand’s economy is in huge trouble. Somehow the Thaiger has missed this fact.

    • The Thaiger & The Nation

      The Thaiger & The Nation

      October 22, 2020 at 4:44 pm

      Remember Roger we’re business people too and speak to hundreds of our peers each week.

      • Avatar

        Michael

        October 22, 2020 at 5:14 pm

        I have my own way to judge the economy. It is the homeless index.
        When I walk from my condo to the market (just a couple of hundred meters) I count the homeless.
        One year ago there were 0.
        Yesterday I counted 11.
        And every month the number goes up.

      • Avatar

        Joe

        October 22, 2020 at 7:46 pm

        So the other English media in Thailand is exaggerating what’s going on?You have put a positive spin on things that I have not heard from anyone else.

      • Avatar

        Dawson

        October 23, 2020 at 12:26 pm

        Perhaps you are business people, but you sure don’t understand economy. The current GDP is minus 10 percent. If things don’t change, this number will be closer to minus 20 percent by January. In comparison, the financial crisis of 1998 resulted in a GDP minus of 3 percent. With these numbers, Thailand’s economy is back to the levels of 1980. This is 40 years of growth destroyed in one year. This kind of economic collapse will make the Thai economy look a lot more like Central Africa than an Asian Tiger.

  2. Avatar

    preesy chepuce

    October 22, 2020 at 11:07 pm

    Even if superficially there is no link between economics and protests, the observable reality is that all over the world, where there is a sudden economic impact, there is a sudden uprising of protests. Even if they don’t say it or don’t know it, economics is the engine behind everything.

  3. Avatar

    Issan John

    October 23, 2020 at 1:32 am

    No, the Bangkok Post’s not “exaggerating” it, but the article (Economy, not rallies, should worry govt) does NOT say what you claim.

    What it actually says, very clearly, is that there “might” or “could” be a link to the timing.

    What it does NOT say is that “this was a major reason for the protests”.

    That’s pure fantasy on your part.

    Leaving the article aside since it didn’t say what you claim, would it not be reasonable to suppose that if the economy was the “major reason” for the protests that the protesters would have said so?

    … so isn’t it a little odd that none of the protesters have said anything like that?

    … and that the only people saying it must be are a handful of farangs commenting here?

    • The Thaiger & The Nation

      The Thaiger & The Nation

      October 23, 2020 at 10:13 am

      Did we even mention the BKK Post? Im struggling to find the reference.

    • Avatar

      Joe

      October 23, 2020 at 11:13 am

      The protesters are not going to talk about macroeconomics but you can be sure the economic situation plays an important role just like it did in the 70’s when there were other big student protests and the economy had been mismanaged by the army too.Most protests throughout the world are started by when people are suffering economically. So basically that article implies that it is a major reason for the student’s actions, it’s logical, if everybody is employed and doing financially well then they will put up with a lot of things,just like the Thai people have done for many years, if not then they won’t.

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Tourism

4 years until tourism industry gets back to pre-pandemic levels – Finance Ministry

Caitlin Ashworth

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4 years until tourism industry gets back to pre-pandemic levels – Finance Ministry | The Thaiger

It could take 4 years for Thailand’s tourism industry to recover after being battered by the lack of travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, the government’s reaction and the economic fallout, according to the Finance Ministry.

While local and international experts project Thailand’s economy will continue to recover over the next 2 years, the tourism industry, which directly contributes 12-15% of the country’s GDP, is forecasted to take at least 4 years to get back to the pre-pandemic level, if ever. Last year, Thailand had nearly 40 million foreign tourist arrivals, generating 2 trillion baht.

Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith says he expects 8 million foreign tourists to arrive in 2021, followed by 16 million in 2022, 32 million in 2023 and 40 million in 2024. But the projections are just broad speculation.

No foreign tourists entered the country between April and September this year. In October, 1,201 foreign tourists were issued Special Tourist Visas for 90 day stays that can be renewed twice, adding up to about 9 months in total. Under the current arrangements there will only be a trickle of tourists coming under the current regime including 14 day quarantine, at the tourist’s expense, and lots of paperwork and red tape.

IF Thailand does end up. with 8 million foreign tourist arrivals next year, and the cash subsidy scheme is extended, the country’s GDP is expected to expand by 4% to 4.5%, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Economy

Economists say new local Covid-19 cases could slow tourism recovery

Caitlin Ashworth

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Economists say new local Covid-19 cases could slow tourism recovery | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Some are concerned about a potential second coronavirus outbreak after 10 Thai women tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from Myanmar’s Tachileik district. Some travelled to Bangkok and Chiang Mai after returning.

A second wave of infections will stall the recovery of domestic tourism and Thailand’s overall economy that has been battered by the pandemic, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council, or NESDC.

Since some cases were reported in the tourism dependent provinces Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, the council is concerned that the recent infections could slow down domestic tourism, according to the council’s secretary general, Danucha Pichayanan. After the first cases were reported in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai earlier this week, many people who planned to visit the provinces cancelled their accommodation bookings, Danucha says.

“Containing the spread is a priority for the government… Effective controls for the second wave are crucial for the country’s overall economic recovery.”

When the pandemic started to affect the global economy in the first quarter of the year, GDP dropped by 2% year-on-year. GDP then plunged by 12.1% in the second quarter of the year, the biggest drop since the Asian financial crisis from 1997 to 1999. The economy improved in the third quarter with GDP contracting by 6.4% year-on-year.

With hopes that a Covid-19 vaccine will be widely available by mid-2021, NESDC predicts the economy will expand by 3.5% to 4.5%.

“That is not a certainty. Everything is uncertain. The government and the NESDC need to monitor all variables.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Economy

Cabinet approves extension, upgrade of stimulus measures, welfare payments

Maya Taylor

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Cabinet approves extension, upgrade of stimulus measures, welfare payments | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

The government has given the green light to the extension and refinement of a number of economic stimulus schemes and welfare payments. 43.5 billion baht has been set aside to fund an extension of the current co-payment scheme and the welfare card program. It’s understood 22.5 billion baht will go to phase 2 of the co-payment scheme, with 21 billion earmarked for the welfare card program.

Danucha Pichayanan from the National Economic and Social Development Council says an additional 5 million people are expected to benefit from phase 2 of the co-payment scheme, which will run from January to March next year. There are currently over 890,000 small businesses registered with the scheme, in which the government subsidises 50% of the cost of food, drink, and other products, up to a maximum of 150 baht per person per day, capped at 3,000 baht per person for the duration of the campaign. From January, that maximum will be increased from 3,000 to 3,500 baht per person, meaning the 10 million people currently registered for the campaign will receive an additional 500 baht.

Additionally, the Centre for Economic Situation Administration has agreed to extend the 500 baht monthly payment to welfare cardholders on low incomes for a further 3 months from January.

Meanwhile, the domestic tourism stimulus scheme is set to be extended until April 30 next year and is getting a bit of an upgrade too. Yuthasak Supasorn from the Tourism Authority of Thailand says the maximum number of hotel nights subsidised under the scheme is being increased from 10 to 15. Air fare subsides are being increased from 2,000 to 3,000 baht, for passengers flying to Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, Songkhla, and Surat Thani. The scheme also provides subsidies for spa visits, and car and boat hire, as well as food.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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