Military, coup, capitalism

1 08 2022

PPT came across an academic article recently that deserves some attention.

Military Political Connection and Firm Value—Empirical Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Thailand” is by four scholars attached to Guangxi University, Jingjing Tang, Haijian Zeng, Fangying Pang, and Lanke Huanga. It is in the journal Emerging Markets Finance and Trade, Volume 58, Number 7, 2022.  The paper is behind a paywall at this quite highly-ranked journal. That said, the journal seems to have done little to improve the expression and the copy-editing seems to have been rudimentary. Even so, there are points made in the highly statistical article that deserve discussion.

In Thailand, they found 638 “military politically connected listed firms” or 24.7% of the total sample of 1,948 firms (p. 1903). “Military politically connected” means directors who had a military or police background. It was found that “the share prices of military and nonmilitary politically connected firms increase during the event window [post-2014 coup], but the performance of share prices of the former is better than that of the latter” (p. 1904).

“This empirical evidence suggests that the market has responded positively to the military coup and that the positive performance of the stock market is more concentrated in firms with military political connections than those without” (p. 1904). The paper adds that “When the civilian [government] are in power, the military political correlation effect is negative for the firms. The positive effect can be significantly reflected only when the military is in power” (p. 1906).

The authors state that “after the military coup in 2014, the intensity of military political connections and the size of the board of directors increases…. This situation shows that, when the military regains power, the firms will recruit personnel with military backgrounds in the board of directors” (p. 1908).

The military connection also “means military political connection firms add more funds to capital investment and R&D after military coup, so the firm’s value increase.”They conclude: “given that the military controls the political power, directors with military backgrounds can provide enterprises with ‘protective umbrellas’ in their operation and acquire the convenience of management and resource allocation, thereby increasing the firm value.”

Having military “protectors” on company boards during the long periods of military and military-backed governments in Thailand is not new; in fact this has been a defining characteristic of Thailand’s capitalism. The other “protection,” perfected by the Sino-Thai tycoons, is sucking up to the monarchy with donations, supplication, and free advertising.





Malls and the status quo

13 07 2022

Archinect is not in PPT’s usual reading list. But it is this week after we found “Architecture, Consumerism, and Human Rights: On ​‘Subverting the Narrative of Power Systems in Thailand’ with Shopping Malls.” The story and interview begins:

Thesis projects offer an exciting glimpse into the minds of emerging designers and their unique architectural perspectives as they navigate through their careers. This is the case for Syracuse University B.Arch graduates Pin Sangkaeo and her collaborative research partner Benson Joseph. Together they explore the practice of merit-making and how political tactics and consumerism have impacted Thailand’s social and political agendas through their thesis project, Temples of Consumerism.

According to Sangkaeo, the project “investigates the role of shopping malls as physical tools of maintaining the status quo, used by those who hold political powers in order to superimpose their ideologies on the collective citizens and perpetuate the systems.”

Reproduced from the linked article where it is placed with the permission of Pin Sangkaeo





Coup rumors

22 07 2021

PPT noticed a story in the Thai Enquirer yesterday talking about coup rumors that are said to be “within political and business circles” having “reached a crescendo this past week with many claiming that a putsch was imminent due to the worsening economic and Covid-19 situation.”

The story notes that the virus crisis and “a widely shared fake document which purported to show army orders preparing for a coup” sent rumor mills into overdrive, especially “within the business community…”.

2006 royalist coup

Move Forward MP Rangsiman Rome set an appropriate tone when he said that military denials “are not always accurate…”, adding: “We have to accept that in our political system the armed forces have never been reformed to be under a civilian government…. As long as they are not under a civilian government, they can use their authority and our tax money to stage a coup.”

He’s right.

Of course, it beggars belief that business types, many of who supported previous coups, would think that the military that produced the incompetent oafs now running the country can provide a more competent oaf. Wealthy business leaders are addicted to the military authoritarianism because it is good for profits, usually providing “order.” They want change when order and profits are threatened.

What Thailand needs is thorough political, legal and administrative reform, not more coups.





Two new articles

25 08 2019

There are two new and interesting articles by academics to add to our recent listing.

One is by James Buchanan at New Mandala. In “Is the era of ‘Red versus Yellow’ over in Thailand?” the author seeks to present an understanding of how politics has changed (or not) in recent years. We find his argument quite convincing. However, there has been some negative response on social media, suggesting that observers of Thailand’s post-coup politics are splintering. Helpfully, this article also has a Thai version: ยุคของ “แดง ปะทะ เหลือง” ในประเทศไทยจบแล้วจริงหรือ?

Another article is by Kevin Hewison at the Journal of Contemporary Asia. His abstract states:

This article provides an account of the upper echelons of Thailand’s capitalist class. Based on an analysis of the Forbes data on Thailand’s wealthiest for the period 2006–2019, it analyses the 30 families and groups that have dominated these rankings over this period. The article compares how the growth of this group’s wealth has outpaced other measures of how Thailand’s economy has grown over this period. The article also compares this Forbes-ranked group with the upper reaches of the Thai capitalist class in 1980, assessing wealth and investment between the most important capitalist groups in 1980 and those in the Forbes rankings for 2006–2019. It finds considerable consistency within this category, in both periods and over time.

The article is behind a paywall. However, as we have stated previously, authors are generally willing to help out with copies for those without access.








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