Updated: Kowtowing to the tycoons

18 04 2020

When the virus began to look threatening for Thailand, the Sino-Thai tycoons panicked, worrying about “disunity.” They seemed satisfied with the junta’s post-junta regime’s emergency decree.

Now, as the Bangkok Post reports, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has said he will “ask the kingdom’s top 20 wealthiest businessmen and key leaders to join his … ‘Team Thailand’, a group that will shape the fight against Covid-19 in the future as the government considers relaxing anti-virus measures.”

The logic seems to be that the filthy rich must know something. And, having them appear to do something seems to be part of a plan to deflect criticism from these obscenely wealthy supporters of monarchy and military coups.

We don’t imagine that there’s a need to have Thailand’s absentee landlord and richest businessman, King Vajiralongkorn, involved. He’s busy enough hiding out in Europe with his harem.

It is not surprising that Gen Prayuth would mimic the tycoons when, in an address to the nation, he “stressed the need for unity and cooperation from all parties during the current hardships derived from the coronavirus pandemic.”

He doesn’t mean political parties.

His Team Thailand hasn’t got anything to do with parliament – what need has he of that? – but is “government officials, academics, members of the health and private sectors, and billionaires who have influence on the economy.”

Prayuth explained that his “government alone cannot give answers to all questions,” which is sad understatement, and he called for help from everyone except the people’s representatives.

Another report states that Gen Prayuth “[c]ommend[ed]them [the tycoons] for the contributions they have already made, [and] … said more was needed in terms of ideas and resources.”

Most of their contributions are “donations” to the monarchy drawn from the huge profits they squeeze from Thai workers, the environment and taxpayers.

Update: Speaking of workers, in an op-ed at the Bangkok Post, Paritta Wangkiat asks:

How can the prime minister not know about the situation on the ground when we hear daily the stories of businesses being shut down, worker lay-offs, hunger and suicide resulting from the government’s lockdown measures?

While Gen Prayuth sucks up to the billionaires, Paritta says: “There are grounds to be concerned that no one will pay heed to the voices of the poor and informal workers, the vulnerable, the hard-hit.” She adds: “Gen Prayut needs to keep his eyes and ears open, reaching out to civil society organisations and the representatives of the vulnerable as well.” That includes workers.



5 responses

20 04 2020
Giving and receiving | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] makes the storm over Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s dealings with the richest – the Sino-Thai tycoons – interesting. As the first linked story observes: […]

22 04 2020
Patronage and ideas sclerosis | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] will be over the moon to learn that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s request for help from Thailand’s filthy rich billionaires has received a positive […]

2 05 2020
Sufficiency manure | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] readers will recall that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has been pleading for the support of Thailand’s tycoons in the regime’s virus […]

14 05 2020
Wealth haven | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] a member of Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s billionaire advisory group known as Team Thailand, and previously a shadowy figure of influence behind several royalist regimes (and, once, of […]

7 01 2021
Protecting CP | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s regime and the biggest, richest Sino-Thai tycoons (here, here, here, here, and […]

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