Updated: Rooting out the “Thaksin regime”

14 07 2014

One of the tasks that the anti-democratic elite has set for the military dictatorship is rooting out the “Thaksin regime.” The notion driving this task is that Thaksin Shinawatra and his associates have managed a revolution in politics that can only be undone by breaking the Thaksin clan’s economic power and their capacity for political organization.

The royalist elite considers that one of the main elements of the Thaksin revolution is the “populist policies” that made Thaksin and his parties hugely popular. Central to the very first policy innovations in 2001 and arguably the most popular of these was the 30 baht universal health scheme. This scheme has been independently shown to have major health impacts for the people.

When the military last took over in 2006, it dared not touch this scheme, and even made it a totally free health program.

This is no longer the case.  The Bangkok Post reports that the rabidly royalist and anti-Thaksin permanent secretary at the Ministry of Public Health Narong Sahametapat wants to introduce  “co-payment” of up to “30-50% of the cost of healthcare services, saying the programme is unsustainable.”

Narong gave “strong support for the People’s Democratic Reform Committee,” otherwise known as the anti-democrats.

Support for the scheme comes from the “National Health Security Office (NHSO), the scheme’s architect, argued the state budget spent on the project was a mere 7% while its benefits were overwhelming.”

Royalist ideology runs deep at the Ministry, and attacking the scheme is considered an important attack on the “Thaksin regime.” When the scheme was first introduced, it “drew strong resistance from the medical profession, partly because it took away most of the budget normally going to the ministry and state hospitals to the NHSO which in turn paid them by the number of patients they actually treated.” Some doctors referred to “socialized medicine.”

Narong seems to agree, and is ignoring the NHSO. Worse, he has reportedly “prohibited hospitals and officials from cooperating with the NHSO…”.

Ji Ungpakorn has a perspective on this too:

We are now seeing the anti-democratic neo-liberals crawling out of the woodwork to help the junta in its road map to “Guided Democracy Neo-liberal Style”.

First, the Permanent Secretary for Health is now suggesting that the 30 baht universal health scheme be scrapped and patients be made to pay up to half of their own health care costs. Dr Narong Sahametapat, the Permanent Secretary for Health, joined Sutep’s mob and called for the resignation of the elected government earlier this year. He is also delaying measures to provide essential drugs to people with hepatitis and cancer.

In my 2006 book “A Coup for the Rich” I warned that the first military junta back then was thinking of introducing “co-payments” for the health service to replace the 30 baht health care scheme.

Secondly, the Counter Corruption Commission is talking to the Election Commission about a plan to force all political parties to submit their manifestos to the Electoral Commission before an election campaign can start. This is so that these unelected anti-democratic neo-liberals can “weed out” any pro-poor policies which use state funds. The neo-liberals hate the use of state funds for the benefit of the majority of people. But they just love the military for vastly increasing its own budget!

Finally, the Thai Development Research Institute (TDRI) has proposed that the minimum wage should not be raised like it was during the Yingluk government because it resulted in raised prices and workers are still poor! Well, given that most workers are too poor, the minimum wage ought to be doubled to 600 baht per day! Most middle class Thais, including the academics at the TDRI enjoy salaries much higher than most workers. What is more, the wage costs in Thailand are very low and could not have resulted in raised prices, but if they did, a pro-poor government could bring in price controls.

The TDRI has a history of opposing the rice price protection scheme which benefitted small farmers. It also opposes the idea of a welfare state.

This only goes to show that neo-liberalism and dictatorship go hand in hand.

Update: The Bangkok Post reports that the Ministry of Public Health has denied that any changes are planned. PPT suggests reading the original report above and decide if this denial is believeable.


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17 07 2014
Health malpractice | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] may remember that PPT posted on plans for the end to the 30 baht health scheme as part of an uprooting of the Thaksin regime. Back then, the Public health permanent secretary […]

17 07 2014
Health malpractice | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] of thailand · in Uncategorized · Leave a comment Readers may remember that PPT posted on plans for the end to the 30 baht health scheme as part of an uprooting of the Thaksin regime. Back then, the Public health permanent secretary […]

1 05 2015
Junta and health “populism” | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] and the Royal Household has obscured and fabricated. At times we have posted on royalist-inspired efforts to roll back the Thaksin Shinawatra universal health care program. We have mentioned independent assessments of […]

1 05 2015
Junta and health “populism” | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] and the Royal Household has obscured and fabricated. At times we have posted on royalist-inspired efforts to roll back the Thaksin Shinawatra universal health care program. We have mentioned independent assessments of […]

3 07 2015
Killing people | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] time the royalists have attacked the scheme since the military coup. Within weeks of that coup, the first thrust was made. The MOPH leadership, dominated by anti-Thaksin royalists, is wanting to raise […]

3 07 2015
Killing people | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] time the royalists have attacked the scheme since the military coup. Within weeks of that coup, the first thrust was made. The MOPH leadership, dominated by anti-Thaksin royalists, is wanting to raise […]

27 07 2015
Rubbing out universal health care | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] has had several posts over a number of years on royalist-inspired efforts to roll back the Thaksin Shinawatra universal health care program. We have mentioned independent assessments of […]

27 07 2015
Rubbing out universal health care | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] has had several posts over a number of years on royalist-inspired efforts to roll back the Thaksin Shinawatra universal health care program. We have mentioned independent assessments of […]

6 06 2017
Health care still a junta “problem” | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] may remember that PPT posted on plans for the end to the 30 baht health scheme as part of an uprooting of the Thaksin regime. Back then, the Public health permanent secretary […]

6 06 2017
Health care still a junta “problem” | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] may remember that PPT posted on plans for the end to the 30 baht health scheme as part of an uprooting of the Thaksin regime. Back then, the Public health permanent secretary […]

19 06 2017
Still working against universal health care | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] program should be ditched or modified. We have we have posted on some of these royalist-inspired efforts to roll back the universal health care program. We have also mentioned independent assessments of the success of […]

19 06 2017
Still working against universal health care | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] program should be ditched or modified. We have we have posted on some of these royalist-inspired efforts to roll back the universal health care program. We have also mentioned independent assessments of the success of […]




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