TRANG – Thailand risks becoming a failed state as a result of weak state mechanisms, conflicts between the legislative and judicial branches, and the ongoing political protests, which may turn violent, former deputy prime minister Somkid Jatusripitak said on Sunday.
At the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s 31st annual conference in the southern province of Trang, he said those with authority and power will have to be tolerant and speak unselfishly for the country to survive.
“State mechanisms have now become an obstacle because they focus on solving political problems, not the people’s problems. The people begin to lose trust in the government because of its mistakes, including the populist policies and the increased corruption,” Mr Somkid said.
Conflicts between the legislative and judicial branches can damage Thailand’s image and foreign countries may not correctly understand the system that the country follows, he said.
“The political conflict in Thailand has resulted in a new slang on the social media, ‘Don’t Thai to me’, which comprises anything that’s bad in the country. With this image being widely used, the status and integrity of the country on the world stage sink lower,” Mr Somkid said.
As for the political street rallies, he said people have the right to protest, no matter which group they join. However, protest leaders must know that their supporters come with true intentions and it is their job to prevent confrontations and losses, he said.
Export, domestic consumption, investment and government spending are the four economic driving forces that had not encountered problems simultaneously in the past. However, they are now facing problems due to issues that have accumulated over many years, he said.
Thailand’s economic growth for this year should not reach 3% as initially projected, he added.
Somkiat Anurat, vice chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said all regions of Thailand faced a slowdown in both private and government investment.
“The country is experiencing low prices for agricultural goods, labour shortages in the industrial sector, rising operating costs and lower confidence in future income,” Mr Somkiat said. “However, the tourism sector will help drive the economy in each region during the high season.”
He said the government’s rice-pledging scheme remained problematic as the amount produced was higher than the quota, and that many farmers had yet to receive money from the government and had to carry more debt as a consequence.
“The government should speed up investments in infrastructure projects, bolster trade with neighbouring countries, promote its Special Economic Zone policy which has been halted due to the political situation, and strengthen political stability,” Mr Somkiat said.