Asia in 2016: Thailand

Asia in 2016: ThailandThailand, under military rule since 2014, made little progress towards democracy during 2016. In August, a clear majority of voters – more than 60 percent supported a military-backed draft constitution in a national referendum. Turnout was estimated at no more than 55 percent, although authorities did not issue an official figure. An army-appointed committee wrote…

Scandal at Thai Wind Concern Threatens US$2 billion IPO

Scandal at Thai Wind Concern Threatens US$2 billion IPOAsama Thanyaphan, the 40-year-old corporate accounts manager at Thai renewable energy firm Wind Energy Holdings, posted her resignation letter to bosses on a quiet Friday afternoon in Bangkok, on the eve of this year's long Labor Day weekend. By the time offices reopened and the company’s human relations department received her note, Asama was on the run in Laos, fearing for her…

Something Fishy with Thailand’s Fishing Industry

Something Fishy with Thailand’s Fishing IndustryThailand’s military rulers are making another effort to sidetrack European Union threats to hand out a “red card” to the Thai fishing industry for illegal fishing – and the trafficking and labor abuse which are also widespread. In a curious reflection on the competence of Thai armed forces, the junta has sacked the navy chief…

Leicester City Cinderella Story Authored by Thai Oligarch

Leicester City Cinderella Story Authored by Thai OligarchThe discourse of “The Little Club That Could” – Leicester City, which went from near relegation to the top of world football – is beguiling. When an emotional fan broke down on the BBC last year after a Leicester City Foxes victory, it became a news story. The manager recently cried on the field; and the…

State Capitalism and the Threat to Democracy

State Capitalism and the Threat to DemocracyOver the past two decades, a renewed economic phenomenon has taken the global stage - state capitalism, in which sovereign countries pour huge resources into companies that come to dominate the fields they enter. It is particularly prevalent in Asia. Joshua Kurlantzick, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has written State Capitalism:…

NGOs Urge EU to Keep Thai Feet to Fire on Fishery Slavery

NGOs Urge EU to Keep Thai Feet to Fire on Fishery SlaveryA wide coalition of human rights, labor and environmental organizations is asking the European Commission to continue pressure on Thailand to end notorious abuses including outright slavery in the country’s fishing industry. The coalition, of 29 different organizations ranging from the AFL-CIO to Greenpeace to Human Rights Watch to international legal and other entities are…

Thailand Looks Vainly for a Magic Finance Minister

Thailand Looks Vainly for a Magic Finance MinisterThere was much irony to be savored on Dec. 20 as the Thai junta’s former deputy prime minister and finance minister MR Pridyathorn Devakula officiated at an event to mark the birth 100 years ago of the nation’s most noted economist, Dr Puey Ungpakorn. Puey was one of the first graduates of Bangkok’s prestigious Thammasat…

Thai Junta Shuts Public’s Ears to Bad News

Thai Junta Shuts Public’s Ears to Bad NewsWhen the international edition of the New York Times was delivered in Thailand on Nov. 30, the front page of the paper featured a large white blank space.  In other editions, the paper featured a detailed story by staff correspondent Thomas Fuller on the growing paralysis in the Thai economy. That white space is emblematic…

Greenpeace Outraged Over Thai Tuna Fleet

Greenpeace Outraged Over Thai Tuna FleetIn a new report released earlier this month, the environmentalist NGO Greenpeace has accused the global tuna industry of being “out of control” and emptying the oceans of fish, devastating other marine life and keeping workers in slavery. The primary target for Greenpeace’s wrath is Thai Union Group, the world’s largest tuna fishery company, which…

Thailand’s Generals Can’t Restart the Economy

Thailand’s Generals Can’t Restart the EconomyMost of Thailand’s economic news is continuing to dampen any remaining hope that the military junta, now in power for 15 months, would usher in an era of economic revival. The kingdom is at best static while long-laggard neighbors Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines appear to be on the rise. Indeed the perception at home…
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