Daily Management Review

How Thailand Turned into Outsider


Once Thailand has been a beacon of freedom and prosperity in Southeast Asia, a bastion of democracy, the center of commerce in the region and shelter for refugees from other countries, backward and war-stricken. The kingdom was called "Teflon" for ability of its economy to experience years of political unrest without appreciable loss: even during the bloody protests in 2010, flow of foreign direct investment in the country has doubled, the stock market rose more than 40%, and the economy - at 7, 8%.

Today the situation has changed, writes the correspondent NYT Bangkok Thomas Fuller: economy braked sharply, the private debt level is among the highest in Asia, and the old king, respect for who is the little that still unites the nation, has not appear in public from September because of illness.

The media do not add Thais faith in a brighter future: recently, a popular radio host said on the air that the only way to better perceive what is happening in the country - to leave it. On vacation or for a long time. People do not want to buy anything, business cannot pay on loans, loan sharks give money at 20% per month, but even they complain about life: borrowers cannot repay debts, they simply close their shops and go away. "The bad economy" is a topic of everyday people’s conversations. In addition, the military power coincided with a jump in the level of crime: the number of crimes against property for the year increased by 63%, violent crimes - 17%. Problems in the economy spoil the mood, people easily get into fights, Buddhist teaching is no longer holds them.

After the military coup in Thailand in May 2014, many citizens felt relieved that months of political unrest and protests ended. Now, Thai state: the new government is wrestling with its critics rather than with the economy. At least three of those charged of "insulting the monarchy" died in prison. Public investigation into their deaths was not conducted.

Meanwhile, Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha in October shocked the public and foreign business with a statement that he will close the country, if there is no peace and political stability. Later, Deputy Prime Minister had to make a message that the leader put it "not literally." On top, Thai media reported that the government will create the country's "single Internet gateway" that would monitor the Internet traffic on the territory of the kingdom; After a barrage of criticism from the society, the authorities announced that the plan will be finalized, yet its abolition is out of the question.

All this discourages Thais, says Fuller.

"People seem swarming to grab tiny pieces remaining on the fish bones, - says an owner of a shop in the central market. - Previously, we had a big fish, and now there is only leftovers."

source: nytimes.com