Protests escalate, stock market up

5 04 2010

BusinessWeek (5 April 2010) reports on the red shirt rejection of demands for them to leave the Rajaprasong area and on the brief and peaceful occupation of a large public area of the government complex at Chang Wattana. Protest leaders claimed that 300,000 red shirts came out for their rally, while the government said 30,000 to 60,000.

Being BusinessWeek, the story notes that the “escalation by protest leaders after three weeks of mostly peaceful demonstrations risks undermining Thailand’s recovery from the first recession in a decade. More disruptions could lead to a downgrade of the country’s credit rating, said Kobsidthi Silpachai, head of capital markets research at Kasikornbank Pcl in Bangkok.” Kobsidthi claims that investors will be heading for Vietnam, but that is a claim that has been made by various analysts long before this series of protests and also relates to Map Ta Phut issues.

“Mostly peaceful” is an interesting term. As far as PPT can ascertain, the demonstrations have been entirely peaceful. There has been the odd scuffle, but nothing major. At the same time, there have been a series of bombs going off, most causing little damage, but no one has claimed responsibility for these.

Then the reports states: “So far the peaceful demonstrations haven’t deterred investment in Thailand, whose benchmark SET index has risen 11 percent since the protests began, the best performance by an Asian benchmark in that period.” That’s worth emphasizing, so PPT added the italics. Minori Uchida, senior analyst in Tokyo at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., a unit of Japan’s biggest bank, is reported to have stated: “Thailand’s political situation has been quite unstable for years now and people seem to get used to it…. Should the protest spread to the airport or affect flows of goods, then it will have a much bigger impact.”

Our earlier post on this topic may be of interest.

Thai protesters ignored police demands to leave a central Bangkok business district for a third day and stormed a government building in a bid to force Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to call an election.

The demonstrators, who have held round-the-clock rallies since March 12, briefly broke into the Election Commission office this afternoon after moving their main base to Bangkok’s commercial heart over the weekend. Abhisit has declared the protest illegal and is seeking a court order to arrest the group’s leaders.

“We will continue to rally at this area,” Nattawut Saikuar, a protest leader, told reporters near the group’s stage at an intersection beneath one of the city’s two mass transit rail lines. They plan to stay even if the court approves arrest warrants, he said.

The escalation by protest leaders after three weeks of mostly peaceful demonstrations risks undermining Thailand’s recovery from the first recession in a decade. More disruptions could lead to a downgrade of the country’s credit rating, said Kobsidthi Silpachai, head of capital markets research at Kasikornbank Pcl in Bangkok.

“Foreign direct investment is shifting toward other competitor nations like Vietnam,” he said in an interview in Bangkok today. “These guys are in it for the long haul.”

Rejected Offer

Abhisit’s opponents have rejected his offer to call an election within nine months, demanding he step down within the next two weeks. The demonstrators may be open to a third round of televised negotiations if the government reduces the timeframe for dissolving parliament, TNN television reported, citing Jatuporn Prompan, another protest leader.

Protesters who had split off from the main group broke into the Election Commission, and images broadcast on the Nation television channel showed dozens walking through the building.

The group rallied at the commission to pressure officers into explaining delays in deciding whether to recommend the dissolution of Abhisit’s ruling Democrat party for receiving an illegal campaign contribution. The party did nothing wrong, spokesman Buranaj Smutharaks said by phone.

“We have cooperated with the Election Commission throughout and now it’s up to them to proceed,” he said. “No such donation was ever made.”

The Election Commission will release details of the case on April 20, 10 days sooner than scheduled, Vichai Sangprapai, head of metropolitan police, division 1, told protesters at the scene.

Asia’s Best

So far the peaceful demonstrations haven’t deterred investment in Thailand, whose benchmark SET index has risen 11 percent since the protests began, the best performance by an Asian benchmark in that period.

The index rose 0.9 percent today to close at its highest level since June 2008. The baht dropped 0.1 percent, the most in a week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Thailand’s political situation has been quite unstable for years now and people seem to get used to it,” said Minori Uchida, senior analyst in Tokyo at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., a unit of Japan’s biggest bank. “Should the protest spread to the airport or affect flows of goods, then it will have a much bigger impact.”

Central Pattana Pcl, the largest operator of shopping malls in Thailand, fell 1.5 percent to its lowest in three weeks after closing its CentralWorld complex for a third day. Others in the area also shut their doors, including Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery, Gaysorn Plaza and Siam Center.

Millions vs. Billions

The protests are costing businesses as much as 300 million baht ($9.2 million) per day, Sumida Buranasiri, acting senior vice chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, told reporters. In 2008, an eight-day airport blockade by the group’s rivals who supported Abhisit cost about 300 billion baht in tourist revenue, according to central bank estimates.

Protest leaders said 300,000 protesters joined them over the weekend, ten times the police estimate. Temperatures in the afternoon heat climbed to as high as 36 degrees Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit) today.

Thailand’s Cabinet last week extended usage of the Internal Security Act until April 7. The law, in place since the rallies began last month, gives the military power to clear streets and make arrests. A year ago, the military quashed similar protests by Abhisit’s opponents that started peacefully and descended into viol

Thai protesters ignored police demands to leave a central Bangkok business district for a third day and stormed a government building in a bid to force Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to call an election.

The demonstrators, who have held round-the-clock rallies since March 12, briefly broke into the Election Commission office this afternoon after moving their main base to Bangkok’s commercial heart over the weekend. Abhisit has declared the protest illegal and is seeking a court order to arrest the group’s leaders.

“We will continue to rally at this area,” Nattawut Saikuar, a protest leader, told reporters near the group’s stage at an intersection beneath one of the city’s two mass transit rail lines. They plan to stay even if the court approves arrest warrants, he said.

The escalation by protest leaders after three weeks of mostly peaceful demonstrations risks undermining Thailand’s recovery from the first recession in a decade. More disruptions could lead to a downgrade of the country’s credit rating, said Kobsidthi Silpachai, head of capital markets research at Kasikornbank Pcl in Bangkok.

“Foreign direct investment is shifting toward other competitor nations like Vietnam,” he said in an interview in Bangkok today. “These guys are in it for the long haul.”

Rejected Offer

Abhisit’s opponents have rejected his offer to call an election within nine months, demanding he step down within the next two weeks. The demonstrators may be open to a third round of televised negotiations if the government reduces the timeframe for dissolving parliament, TNN television reported, citing Jatuporn Prompan, another protest leader.

Protesters who had split off from the main group broke into the Election Commission, and images broadcast on the Nation television channel showed dozens walking through the building.

The group rallied at the commission to pressure officers into explaining delays in deciding whether to recommend the dissolution of Abhisit’s ruling Democrat party for receiving an illegal campaign contribution. The party did nothing wrong, spokesman Buranaj Smutharaks said by phone.

“We have cooperated with the Election Commission throughout and now it’s up to them to proceed,” he said. “No such donation was ever made.”

The Election Commission will release details of the case on April 20, 10 days sooner than scheduled, Vichai Sangprapai, head of metropolitan police, division 1, told protesters at the scene.

Asia’s Best

So far the peaceful demonstrations haven’t deterred investment in Thailand, whose benchmark SET index has risen 11 percent since the protests began, the best performance by an Asian benchmark in that period.

The index rose 0.9 percent today to close at its highest level since June 2008. The baht dropped 0.1 percent, the most in a week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Thailand’s political situation has been quite unstable for years now and people seem to get used to it,” said Minori Uchida, senior analyst in Tokyo at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., a unit of Japan’s biggest bank. “Should the protest spread to the airport or affect flows of goods, then it will have a much bigger impact.”

Central Pattana Pcl, the largest operator of shopping malls in Thailand, fell 1.5 percent to its lowest in three weeks after closing its CentralWorld complex for a third day. Others in the area also shut their doors, including Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery, Gaysorn Plaza and Siam Center.

Millions vs. Billions

The protests are costing businesses as much as 300 million baht ($9.2 million) per day, Sumida Buranasiri, acting senior vice chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, told reporters. In 2008, an eight-day airport blockade by the group’s rivals who supported Abhisit cost about 300 billion baht in tourist revenue, according to central bank estimates.

Protest leaders said 300,000 protesters joined them over the weekend, ten times the police estimate. Temperatures in the afternoon heat climbed to as high as 36 degrees Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit) today.

Thailand’s Cabinet last week extended usage of the Internal Security Act until April 7. The law, in place since the rallies began last month, gives the military power to clear streets and make arrests. A year ago, the military quashed similar protests by Abhisit’s opponents that started peacefully and descended into violence.

Thai protesters ignored police demands to leave a central Bangkok business district for a third day and stormed a government building in a bid to force Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to call an election.

The demonstrators, who have held round-the-clock rallies since March 12, briefly broke into the Election Commission office this afternoon after moving their main base to Bangkok’s commercial heart over the weekend. Abhisit has declared the protest illegal and is seeking a court order to arrest the group’s leaders.

“We will continue to rally at this area,” Nattawut Saikuar, a protest leader, told reporters near the group’s stage at an intersection beneath one of the city’s two mass transit rail lines. They plan to stay even if the court approves arrest warrants, he said.

The escalation by protest leaders after three weeks of mostly peaceful demonstrations risks undermining Thailand’s recovery from the first recession in a decade. More disruptions could lead to a downgrade of the country’s credit rating, said Kobsidthi Silpachai, head of capital markets research at Kasikornbank Pcl in Bangkok.

“Foreign direct investment is shifting toward other competitor nations like Vietnam,” he said in an interview in Bangkok today. “These guys are in it for the long haul.”

Rejected Offer

Abhisit’s opponents have rejected his offer to call an election within nine months, demanding he step down within the next two weeks. The demonstrators may be open to a third round of televised negotiations if the government reduces the timeframe for dissolving parliament, TNN television reported, citing Jatuporn Prompan, another protest leader.

Protesters who had split off from the main group broke into the Election Commission, and images broadcast on the Nation television channel showed dozens walking through the building.

The group rallied at the commission to pressure officers into explaining delays in deciding whether to recommend the dissolution of Abhisit’s ruling Democrat party for receiving an illegal campaign contribution. The party did nothing wrong, spokesman Buranaj Smutharaks said by phone.

“We have cooperated with the Election Commission throughout and now it’s up to them to proceed,” he said. “No such donation was ever made.”

The Election Commission will release details of the case on April 20, 10 days sooner than scheduled, Vichai Sangprapai, head of metropolitan police, division 1, told protesters at the scene.

Asia’s Best

So far the peaceful demonstrations haven’t deterred investment in Thailand, whose benchmark SET index has risen 11 percent since the protests began, the best performance by an Asian benchmark in that period.

The index rose 0.9 percent today to close at its highest level since June 2008. The baht dropped 0.1 percent, the most in a week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Thailand’s political situation has been quite unstable for years now and people seem to get used to it,” said Minori Uchida, senior analyst in Tokyo at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., a unit of Japan’s biggest bank. “Should the protest spread to the airport or affect flows of goods, then it will have a much bigger impact.”

Central Pattana Pcl, the largest operator of shopping malls in Thailand, fell 1.5 percent to its lowest in three weeks after closing its CentralWorld complex for a third day. Others in the area also shut their doors, including Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery, Gaysorn Plaza and Siam Center.

Millions vs. Billions

The protests are costing businesses as much as 300 million baht ($9.2 million) per day, Sumida Buranasiri, acting senior vice chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, told reporters. In 2008, an eight-day airport blockade by the group’s rivals who supported Abhisit cost about 300 billion baht in tourist revenue, according to central bank estimates.

Protest leaders said 300,000 protesters joined them over the weekend, ten times the police estimate. Temperatures in the afternoon heat climbed to as high as 36 degrees Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit) today.

Thailand’s Cabinet last week extended usage of the Internal Security Act until April 7. The law, in place since the rallies began last month, gives the military power to clear streets and make arrests. A year ago, the military quashed similar protests by Abhisit’s opponents that started peacefully and descended into violence.

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18 04 2010
Tourism and the economy « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] There have been earlier comments on the economic damage done by red shirt rallying, and PPT posted earlier on this and pointed out that there had been little impact on the economy. This might have changed […]

13 01 2011
Divisive politics, dumb perspective | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] . Long-time readers of PPT will know that, at the time, PPT questioned the dire economic warnings (here, here and here). Yesterday, we also commented on some of the reasons why foreign investors like […]