Thai junta-backed PM appoints key Thaksin aide to economic team

Thai junta-backed PM appoints key Thaksin aide to economic team

Thu, 15 Feb 2007 05:33

BANGKOK (XFN-ASIA) – Thailand’s army-installed government has appointed
a former deputy to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to lead a
new economics team to boost sagging business confidence in the country.

Minister Surayud Chulanont named Somkid Jatusripitak to head a new nine-member
commission tasked with explaining Thailand’s new economic policies,
especially to international investors whose confidence has been badly
shaken since the coup.

‘The duty of this commission is to create a better understanding and provide
correct information on Thai economic policy to state and private
agencies, the media, as well as academic institutions overseas,’
Veerachai Veerametheekul, deputy secretary to Surayud, told Agence

‘He will report directly to prime minister Surayud but he has no authority to
map out economic policy, only to clarify and improve the understanding
of the government’s economic policy — particularly the ‘sufficiency
economy,” he said.
was a deputy prime minister under Thaksin charged with heading up
economic policy. He resigned from Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai party after
the coup and has kept a low profile since then.


TaiwanNews Online

Thailand’s military-installed government takes on Thaksin ally as economic advisor

Associated Press

2007-02-15 01:58 PM

A former top aide to ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been appointed an economic adviser to the military-installed government that ousted him, officials said Thursday.Somkid Jatusripitak, who served as Thaksin’s chief economic adviser and a
former finance minister, volunteered to help the military-installed
government explain its floundering economic policies to foreign
investors _ and the military-installed government accepted, said
interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont.

Somkid will head a committee that will be responsible for communicating with foreign governments, the private sector and the media, said Virachai
Virameteekul, deputy secretary general in the prime minister’s office.

Surayud’s government has had trouble explaining its proposed economic policy _
which it calls “sufficiency economy” _ to the international community.
The idea focuses on improving quality of life and crafting development
policies in pace with the country’s resources to bring about
sustainable growth. It shuns the high-charged investment and overly
rapid development of particular parts of the economy, such as the
lending or property sectors, that contributed to the 1997 financial

“Having someone from the previous government who also has
contacts in the economic world, especially in Japan and China, will
help create confidence that sufficiency economy doesn’t conflict with
capitalism,” Surayud told reporters.

Thaksin, and the government in which Somkid served, were ousted in a bloodless coup Sept. 19.

Coup leaders accused Thaksin of massive corruption and abuse of power and
have launched several corruption investigations into the dealings of
Thaksin’s administration.

Somkid was seen at one point as a possible successor to Thaksin, but he quit politics a month before the coup amid a protracted political crisis in Thailand. He said at the time he was considering returning to the role of a university lecturer.

The current military-installed government is expected to remain in power until elections scheduled for later this year.

Thursday February 15, 6:41 PM

Thaksin’s ex-economic tsar named Thai PM adviser


Click to enlarge

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s economic tsar will head a panel to explain Thailand’s “sufficiency economy” policy to foreign investors, the military-appointed government said on Thursday.

Somkid Jatusripitak, a former finance minister, will lead a nine-member committee to give a “correct understanding” of the policy of moderation and sustainable growth espoused by King Bhumibol
Adulyadej, a government statement said.

Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said Somkid had volunteered for the job.

“He is the best candidate because he worked in the past government and he can help explain the differences (in policy). There is no contradiction,” Surayud told reporters.

Foreign investor confidence has dived after a series of controversial measures imposed since a September coup, including capital controls, tighter foreign ownership laws and moves to override patents on foreign-made drugs.

Somkid, a U.S.-educated former marketing executive who also
served as commerce minister under Thaksin, was a key proponent of the
populist, big spending, pro-free trade economic policies known as

Aside from winning back foreign investors, analysts said Somkid’s
appointment may be part of a campaign by the interim government to
weaken Thaksin’s political base while the ousted leader is living in

Somkid’s reputation as a capable economic administrator could
also provide a boost for a government which has seen its popularity
drop in recent opinion polls.

“Although it is ironic, it is a tactic to kill three birds with one stone,” Somjai Phagapasvivat, a political commentator at Bangkok’s Thammasat University, told Reuters.

Somkid, 53, who has been tipped by Thai media to lead a new party in polls promised late this year, broke his public silence since the Sept. 19 coup on Thursday with a lecture on the sufficiency economy at a Bangkok university.

“Several political groups have extended their good wishes, but
it’s not the right time to commit to anything. Everything remains
unclear and the constitution is still in an embryonic stage,” he told
reporters when asked about his political future.

In his new role, Somkid said he would use his connections in the foreign business community to help ease the workload of the current administration.

Thaksin ally picked to placate investors

By Amy Kazmin in Bangkok

Published: February 16 2007 00:40 | Last updated: February 16 2007 00:40

A senior ally of Thaksin Shinawatra was appointed by Thailand’s military-installed government on Thursday to lead a panel to explain its economic policies to jittery foreign investors.

The move appears to signal a rapprochement between the coup-makers and key members of the government of the ousted Mr Thaksin, despite the military’s past insistence that corruption in the former administration justified the overthrow.

Somkid Jatusripitak, a former finance minister, deputy prime minister and a key driver of many of Mr Thaksin’s populist, big-spending policies, will be assigned to promote a “correct understanding” of the new government’s “sufficiency economy” ideas.

The appointment outraged opponents of Mr Thaksin’s regime and could damage further an administration already accused of moving too slowly to punish the previous administration for what many believe was its pervasive malfeasance.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political economist at Chulalongkorn University, said: “I am just appalled. What you are saying is that Thaksin was immoral and corrupt but then you have appointed Thaksin’s right-hand guy, his intellectual policy chief.”

Mr Somkid, a US-educated marketing expert, was one of the primary authors of Mr Thaksin’s original vote-winning programme, which included promises of debt relief, easy loans from micro-credit funds and cheap healthcare for the rural poor. He also had a clean, market-friendly image and was touted as a potential successor to Mr Thaksin when the former premier announced a “break” from politics last April.

But Mr Somkid faces a daunting task to win back the confidence of foreign investors, who have been unnerved by the imposition of capital controls, revisions to long-standing investment laws and Bangkok’s escalating battle with the global pharmaceutical industry. Many foreign investors feel that the measures reflect resentment of foreign influence over the economy.

While Mr Somkid will try to counter these perceptions, his appointment may be more significant for the direction of Thailand’s domestic political crisis. The military has promised to hold a national referendum on a new constitution soon. Thai and international analysts have predicted that Mr Thaksin, still in exile, will seek to mobilise voters against the draft constitution to undermine the legitimacy of the coup and create chaos for his political enemies.

Ian Gisbourne, head of research at Phatra Securities, said the appointment suggested many of the former stalwarts of Mr Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai party, such as Mr Somkid, might have been persuaded to abandon the cause of the ousted premier.

“Thai Rak Thai – love ’em or hate ’em – had a fantastic network throughout Thailand,” said Mr Gisbourne. “If that network now moves over and joins the new government, the probability that the new constitution will pass goes up immeasurably.”


Anger at Thai plans to redefine companies – Feb-09

Thailand seeks to reassure foreign investors – Jan-24

Thailand braced for business clampdown – Jan-10

Demagogues, not juntas, are Asia’s real risk – Jan-10

Thailand imposes limits on ‘vital sectors’ – Jan-10

Foreigners seek Thai investment rethink – Jan-09

International Herald Tribune

Top Thai general talks of taking satellite back from Singaporeans

Published: February 17, 2007

BANGKOK: Thailand’s military-appointed government scrambled Saturday
to play down comments by the top general that he wanted to take back
satellite concessions sold last year to a Singapore government agency.

A strident speech on Friday by the general, Sonthi Boonyaratglin,
who led the coup last September that ousted Thaksin Shinawatra as prime
minister, further strained relations between the two countries, with
the Singapore Foreign Ministry publicly asking for an explanation.

“Singapore is surprised at what Council for National Security Chief
Sonthi Boonyaratglin was reported to have said about getting back Thai
national assets which have been sold to foreigners,” a ministry
spokesman said in a statement. “We should wait for the Thai government
to clarify what those remarks meant.”

In his speech to students undergoing military training, Sonthi vowed
to recapture the satellite concessions, which Thaksin’s family sold to
the investment arm of the Singapore government as part of a
multibillion-dollar private deal that also involved stakes in the
country’s largest cellular phone operator, a low-cost airline and a
television channel.

Sonthi did not say how he would take the assets back but compared it to a military campaign.

“For soldiers, we will not tolerate a loss of territory, not even a
square inch,” Sonthi was quoted as saying by Thai media. “It is the
same with natural resources. I want to get back the national assets.”

The deal between Shin Corp and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings has been at the center of Thailand’s yearlong political crisis.

On Saturday, a spokesman for the government, Yongyuth Maiyalarp, said Sonthi had “just expressed his opinion.”

A Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman, Kitti Wasinondh, also sought to
play down Sonthi’s comments in a newspaper interview. “What General
Sonthi said has to be taken in context,” Kitti told The Nation. “The
remarks were made for that particular audience. The whole issue should
just fade away.”

Several weeks ago Sonthi said he feared that the sale of the
satellites would allow Singapore to eavesdrop on Thailand’s military
communications system.

“National assets, no matter where they are located, always belong to
Thailand and the Thai people,” Sonthi said in his speech Friday, adding
to reporters afterward; “Do you want me to sit idly by? My duty is to
salvage the country and its assets.”

Last month, Thailand canceled a scheduled visit by Singapore’s
foreign minister, George Yeo, after a senior member of the Singapore
government met with Thaksin. Singapore said the visit was private, but
Thailand said it showed a lack of sensitivity to Thailand’s current
political situation.

Sonthi spoke in a nationalist and strident tone unusual for top Thai
officials. “Singapore is a small country that lacks any farmland but it
has rich capitalists and brokers who can buy our assets,” Sonthi said
in the Friday speech.

Thaksin has repeatedly said he does not want to seek office again, a
claim that many view skeptically here. Thaksin recently hired both a
prominent Washington lobbying firm and a public relations company, a
move that analysts say may be an effort to stage an eventual political

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