Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thailand comes to a fork in the road

The Straights Times reports:
Thailand heads into a crucial parliamentary session today to choose a new prime minister, with the prospect of failure carrying the cost of a further loss of credibility.

A failure could also lead to a possible House dissolution and snap election less than a year after the last one.

After a long meeting yesterday, however, the People's Power Party (PPP) said it was confident its candidate, Mr Somchai Wongsawat, a former judge and currently the Acting Prime Minister, would win the day in the House.

The PPP is the single-largest party in Parliament and, with its coalition partners, controls 315 out of 480 House seats.

An initial consensus on Mr Somchai was endangered on Monday by a 73-seat faction in the PPP led by north-eastern politician Newin Chidchob.
Probably the most important fact about Somchai is that he is the brother-in-law of former prime-minister Thaksin, who now lives in exile in London. Up until the time Thaksin became prime minister, Somchai spent most of his career as a judge. Throught most of Thaksin's tenure as prime minister, Somchai served the Thaksin government as the top bureaucrat within the ministry of justice. After March of 2006 Somchai began a six-month long stint directing the ministry of labour.

Obviously, the appointment of Somchai as Thai PM would be siezed upon by the notorious PAD protesters as evidence that Thailand's government remains under Thaksin's control.

Meanwhile, expectations are that Thailand will adequately weather the US financial crisis. Only Bangkok Bank appears to have had significant exposure to Lehman. It seems to me that political instability remains the major factor depressing the Thai markets and international investor enthusiasm for the Kingdom, although this article claims turmoil in the US markets will draw money out of Thailand in the medium term. Given the overall decline in the Thai stock market, so far as an investor can stomach the political turmoil, there are no doubt bargains to be had in Thailand for savvy investors.
Photo shows Somchai Wongsawat. Check out his Wikipedia biography and resume.


  1. he has already been elected !

    Somchai Wongsawat is the 26th Thai prime minister

    Somchai, deputy leader of People Power Party, won 298 to 163 over Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. Five abstained.

  2. And takes it! With a nod to Yogi Berra, who, on giving directions to his home, said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it," because either way led to the same destination.


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