The economic bosses matter

18 10 2015

When the Thai ruling elite is defined, most analysts will include the monarchy and its hangers-on – what we tend to identify as “the palace” – the military as the repressive muscle required to maintain the elite, and the mainly Sino-Thai tycoons who have cemented their position since the late 1950s, rising to economic power with the monarchy and under the protection of the military.

It is widely believed that a coterie of palace-supporting capitalists funded several of the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra street movements, from the People’s Alliance for Democracy to the People’s Alliance for Democracy.

Since the coup, the lumbering junta has not seemed to pay much attention to the private sector. It was more interested in royalist ideology and political repression.

The junta made the mistake of appointing failed and lazy Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula as its economic czar and the economy saw a downward spiral. It was only when it got around to appointing former Thaksin minister Somkid Jatusripitak that the business class felt that it mattered to the military.

This makes it interesting, as reported in The Nation, that the “Constitution Drafting Committee will seek opinions from the private sector before deciding whether to give an independent agency the power to check government policies…”.

Clearly, the junta wants some support for its plan to have some kind of unelected panel with the power to  veto policies disliked by the elite that might be introduced by any elected government in the future.