More “populist” spending

13 10 2018

The junta has spent a king’s ransom on its “populist” programs as The Dictator campaigns for his supporters to “win” the rigged election. PPT has posted again and again on the schemes it has implemented in an effort to defeat the Puea Thai Party and to hoover up its former MPs and its supporters. One of the principal authors of these schemes is a former Thaksin Shinawatra minister, Somkid Jatusripitak.

The latest scheme is one targeted at a particular group: motorcycle taxis.

As is well known, motorcycle taxis were strong Thaksin supporters and were also important for the red shirt movement, so dragging them to the junta’s side is a critical mission for the vote strategists around The Dictator.

We also know, thanks to Claudio Sopranzetti and his book Owners of the Map, that military intelligence moved quickly following the 2014 coup to co-opt leaders of motorcycle taxi riders.

All of this means that there’s no surprise in the latest shoveling out of taxpayer funds for electoral gain is directed to each and every rider:

Motorcycle taxis nationwide will receive a discount on gasohol 95 of three baht per litre by December in a bid to manage the effects of higher global oil prices, says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

The discount price will be administered through the state-owned oil and gas conglomerate, PTT Plc, whose petrol stations will take part in the programme.

Funding sources could include PTT, the State Oil Fund and the welfare smartcard scheme.

Registered motorcycle taxis nationwide number 200,000, with half of those in Bangkok.

One surprise in this is that PTT is supposed to be a public company. While the state continues to hold 51% of the company, investors probably didn’t put their money into PTT thinking that it would simply respond to the diktats of the military dictatorship.

This adds to other subsidies and schemes that are meant to bolster support for the junta and, in this case, is a lubricant for undoing links between Puea Thai and particular groups of political groups.


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