Thailand Intelligence Report – 1 August 2012

From August 2012, SIU will provide a free summary report of Thailand latest situation on politics and economics.

From August 2012, SIU will provide a free summary report of Thailand latest situation. The Thailand Intelligence Report (TIR) will be released ‘at least’ every month for normal circumstance and might be released in more frequent cycle in special occasion.

The report will be short and straightforward. The initial topics of coverage are politics and economics.

Those who are interested in TIR report can subscribe via the form below. We will send you a copy of TIR future issues in advance of web site publication.

Politics

Pheu Thai Retreat

Official signals from Pheu Thai Party on constitutional amendment are obvious. Yingluck spoke about this explicitly at PTP annual conference in Pattaya at the last weekend of July. She said while the grand standpoint is ‘no-retreat’, the party must ‘retreat to avoid conflict’. (Full transcription in Thai at PTP site) Thaksin also called in and told his party to ‘keep-it-cool’ on constitution amendment. He said the most important issue is the administration must last as long as possible and “don’t worry about my comeback plan”.

We expect PTP will postpone, not withdraw, the constitutional amendment and the ‘consolidation bill’ for entering the parliament. PTP might try to reintroduce both draft bills again within this year, but that depends on future political situation.

Still No Good Sign from Democrats

Democrat Party have still not shown any positive improvement from its recent political activities. The latest development came from 29 July rally which Abhisit appeared in red shirt. The shirt was screen ‘Stop the Fake Consolidation’ and he told the crowd ‘Red is color for everyone in the country’. Democrat supporters welcome his bold standpoint and Reds are obviously furious at him.

We forecast the silent majority do not feel good with Abhisit’s more radical activities in recent months. They prefer a more polite version of Abhisit during his tenure than the current aggressive Abhisit. The more radical Democrat Party can increase the party’s short-term appearance in media but cause negative effect in longer term party’s turnaround plan.

Senate Speaker Dismissed

Gen Teeradej Meepian, the Senate Speaker, was dismissed by criminal court decision on his past case. The case is about awarding himself meeting allowance since his 2004 chief ombudsman day. While he still keeps his senator status, the Senate rule prevents any senator with jail sentence to be a Speaker. (see more details in this Bangkok Post article)

Nikom Wairatpanich, Deputy Senate Speaker, has a good chance for a new Senate Speaker election in the next few weeks. This incident should not affect the overall Thai political situation.

Economics

Lower-Northeastern Infrastructure Plan Approved

There was no big issue in July normal cabinet meetings. Though the special cabinet meeting in Surin province (29 July), the cabinet approved the ฿10-billion infrastructure plan of lower-Northeastern region (see map). The projects include a strategic eastern highway from Saraburi to Nakhon Ratchasima, few upgrades for roads in Surin/Chaiphum/Buriram/Sisaket, a new railway linking Nakhon Ratchasima and Ubon Ratchathani, an upgrade plan for Ubon Ratchathani Airport as a transportation hub for Indochina.

Entrepreneurship Fund Approved

29 July cabinet meeting also approved the Entrepreneurship Fund (กองทุนตั้งตัวได้ = Kong-Tun-Tung-Tua-Dai). The fund will aim for university and vocational students and recent graduates, give them loans and incubator programs to develop many SME entrepreneur in the next few years. The fund initial phase will last 4 years and has total 20 billion Baht budget (5 billion for FY2013). The fund will be a division of Minister of Education (MoE).

This fund is one of many PTP proposed funds. It can be considered as an extension of Thai Rak Thai’s SME development programs in the past.

Water Management Master Plan

The flood prevention program is now started.  Plodprasop Suraswadi, Minister of Science who is also a director of government flood committee, invites local and foreign constructors and consultants for a brief on ‘water management master plan’. Attendances were given the draft TOR and Plodprasop invited everyone to submit their proposal. Plodprasob was criticized for his process of invitation which benefits only big three local constructors.

We expect the process of water management master plan will delay for few more months but at least we can see some ‘attempts’ from government side.