Thai former finance minister resigns from new appointed post

UPDATED: 15:41, February 21, 2007

former finance minister Somkid Jatusripitak, who was appointed as an
economic envoy for the government late last week, announced resignation
from the new post during a press conference Wednesday morning amid
growing political pressure.

Somkid was one of the key members under the previous
government of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He resigned
from the former ruling Thai Rak Thai party after the military coup on
Sept. 19, which ousted the Thaksin administration, and has kept a low
profile since then.

Just last week, the prime minister Surayud Chulanont appointed
Somkid as the chief of a newly-formed international economic affairs
committee, known as the Committee on Coordination and Strengthening of
International Economic Relations. Somkid said last week after his
appointment that he could use connections he still had with foreign
countries to supplement the works of government agencies to get foreign
countries understand the principle of sufficiency economy. Surayud also
emphasized that Somkid’s appointment had nothing to do with politics.

However, several groups called for Somkid’s resignation. The
People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) warned of rising tensions if the
new government continued to welcome individuals associated with ousted
premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Somkid said during his Wednesday conference that due to the
conflicts among the people upon his appointment, he is willing to step
down for the peace since “the harmonious politics is more important
than his status”.

Somkid, a former economic tsar, said he had consulted Surayud
about his decision to quit the post. He said there was still a lot of
misunderstanding about his appointment and didn’t want him to be the
cause of further misunderstanding and division in the Thai society.

Somkid stressed that he had good intention and sincerity to
serve the country, but his good intention was misinterpreted because of
miscommunication. He said he was deeply disappointed with the
misunderstanding against him but he did not hold grudges against those
who disagreed with him.

Source: Xinhua

Wednesday February 21, 12:27 PM

Thaksin aide quits as Thai economic advisor


Click to enlarge

BANGKOK (AFP) – A one-time key aide to deposed Thai premier Thaksin
Shinawatra on Wednesday quit his post at the head of the military
government’s new economics team, less than a week after he was

Somkid Jatusripitak was deputy prime minister when Thaksin fell
from power, but the army-installed government had tapped him six days
ago to head a new team charged with boosting sagging confidence in
Thailand’s economy.

The appointment of Somkid, also a former finance minister, sparked
an uproar among supporters of the coup and had drawn threats of street

“I want to stop this conflict early,” Somkid told reporters.

“After consulting with the prime minister, I told him that I want to resign in order to defuse the conflict,” he said.

His resignation was the latest in a series of abrupt shifts in
Thailand’s economic policy since the coup in September that forced
Thaksin from office.

Somkid, 53, had been appointed to help explain the government’s new
policies, especially to foreign investors whose confidence has been
badly shaken in the wake of the coup.

He warned that army-installed Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont’s
government needed to do a better job of communicating with investors to
avoid causing even more damage to the economy.

“If we leave the new policies unexplained, it will cause considerable damage to the country,” he said.

“That’s why I volunteered, because I can help our country.”

Somkid had been one of the most prominent members of Thaksin’s
government, variously holding the top jobs at the finance and commerce

He was credited with formulating many of Thaksin’s economic
policies, which revived Thailand’s economy following the 1997 financial

But his appointment created tension within Surayud’s government, especially with Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula.

Pridiyathorn, a former Bank of Thailand governor, has given
confusing and sometimes contradictory explanations of Thai economic
policy, blamed in part for weakening confidence in the country.

Somkid resigned just one day after the so-called People’s Alliance
for Democracy (PAD), which had spearheaded months of protests against
Thaksin before the coup, threatened to return to the streets unless he
was sacked.

Thaksin adviser quits

Thaksin Shinawatra

Feb 21, 2007

Thailand’s post-coup government suffered another setback on
Wednesday as ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s economic
tsar resigned as an adviser, just six days after taking the

Somkid Jatusripitak, a former finance minister who was to help
explain the army-appointed government’s “sufficiency economy”
policy to nervous foreign investors, said he quit in the interest
of national unity after a storm of protests by Thaksin critics.

“It is very regrettable and a pity that my good intentions have
been variously misinterpreted. But what I know is that I intended
to work for the King,” he said, referring to Thailand’s revered
King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Critics said Somkid, chief architect of Thaksin’s big spending,
pro-business, free trade agenda known as “Thaksinomics”, was the
wrong man to champion the policy of moderation and sustainable
growth espoused by King Bhumibol.

The former marketing executive had no policy-making powers in
his new job leading a nine-member committee, comprising mainly
bureaucrats, to promote Thai policies.

But Somkid’s political resurrection also sent the wrong message
to Thaksin’s allies, many of whom are being investigated for
corruption following last September’s coup, critics said. Somkid
himself has been implicated in a rubber saplings scandal.

On Monday, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont vowed to keep Somkid
on the payroll to help restore investor confidence shaken by the
imposition of capital controls and tightening of foreign ownership

But the next day, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) –
which led public protests against Thaksin last year – threatened to
hit the streets again if Somkid stayed in the job.

“It clearly does not do a lot for the prime minister’s
reputation. They have flip-flopped on policy so many times,” said a
financial analyst who declined to be named.

“The significance of Somkid’s appointment was more that they
were holding out an olive branch to sensible members of Thai Rak
Thai,” he said, referring to Thaksin’s former party.

Other analysts saw little damage to the public standing of
Surayud’s government.

“Whether Somkid gets the job or not is no big deal. Any impact
on the government is very limited,” said political science lecturer
Sukhum Nualsakul of Bangkok’s Ramkamhaeng University.

“This one involves a personality, not government policy.”

Somkid said his relationship with Thaksin had begun to fray long
before the September 19 coup, but said his duty to oversee the
economy prevented him from quitting the Thaksin government.

“He had his own opinions, principles and ways of doing things,
and so did I.

“They were clearly different and separate. In fact, they went in
different directions,” he said.

Source: Reuters

Guardian Unlimited

  Breaking news International


From the Associated Press


  Fallen Thai Government’s Economist Quits

Wednesday February 21, 2007 3:01 PM

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) – A top economic aide to ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra resigned Wednesday from his position in the current military-appointed government following sharp criticism from pro-democracy groups.

Somkid Jatusripitak, a former finance minister, stepped down a day after the People’s Alliance for Democracy accused him of being a crony of the former prime minister and said he would bring back Thaksin’s brand of economics.

“I am disappointed that my good intention to serve the country has been misinterpreted by some, but I do not want this to become a political issue that will deepen the divide in the country,” Somkid told reporters.

He said he had not been in touch with Thaksin since a bloodless coup drove Thaksin from power in September.

“He has his own path … and I have mine. I have my own thoughts and ideals, which are independent,” Somkid said. “I am not attached to an individual or a position.”

The People’s Alliance for Democracy, which had spearheaded protests against Thaksin, said Tuesday that Somkid had engineered policies of extreme capitalism and consumerism – which many dubbed “Thaksinomics” – in
the former government.

The military coup that ousted Thaksin followed months of mass street protests, with the alliance and other groups accusing him of corruption and abuse of power.

An alliance spokesman, Suriyasai Takasila, said Somkid’s appointment would increase disunity among Thais.

Somkid, who also served as Thaksin’s chief economic adviser, was appointed last week by Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont to head a committee to clarify the government’s economic policy, especially to foreign investors.

Surayud’s government has had trouble explaining to the international community its vision for a so-called sufficiency economy. The idea focuses on improving the quality of life and crafting development policies in conjunction with Thailand’s resources to bring about sustainable growth.

The policy shuns the high-charged investment and overly rapid development of particular parts of the economy – such as the lending and property sectors – which contributed to Thailand’s 1997 financial crisis.

A key protest leader and media tycoon, Sondhi Limthongkul, had warned that if Somkid did not resign, the alliance would take action against him.

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