Dec 23

Supporters of PPP cheer early election results in Bangkok, Thailand - Photo by AP - David LongstreathAs the election booths were closed earlier today following the first election after the Coup of the Thai Military – the smoke is slowly starting to clear up. It looks now like the Allies of then deposed former PM Thaksin Shinawatra are headed for a victory.

This would come as a double blow to the Military who executed the ‘bloodless Coup’ accusing Thaksin of Corruption and robbing money from the people. They basically took over the country, when the PM was on a business trip in Europe to meet with other leaders.

Seems that the people have a different opinion:

Most small people in rural and lower income urban areas had in fact benefited a lot from ‘Thaksinomics’ during Thailand’s most prosperous year before the Coup. The Political Elite in Bangkok was always against Thaksin, as he came in as an outsider to their establish crony system and didn’t want to follow their cat and mouse games.

Of course he didn’t rule the country without mistakes, after all the companies he had stakes in soared heavily in value and some dubious business transactions took place as well.

But he introduced also cheap/free healthcare for poorer families and decentralized some of the Bangkok money to the villages in the rural areas. Suddenly everyone was able to get a bank loan or invest to bolster personal and family businesses. A boom for the small people began, brought suddenly to a halt by the Military Coup on 20/09/2006.

What happened so far?

Nothing much useful – the economy is stagnating and is far from its pace of the previous days. The people of Thailand are frustrated and de-motivated by the Juntas approach of running things in the country. It started already in October last year, when people realized that having Martial Law in their country surely can’t be good for business. First thing in November – the new (military-chosen) Parliament raised their salary level substantially and reallocated some of the lucrative Top Business Posts among themselves. Thailand’s stock markets stumbled down sharply in December 2006, when the Central Bank under new Policies announced to introduce new taxes on stock purchases, which was shortly pulled back.

Coup Leader Sonthi - clueless7 months after the Coup the Military ran out of disastrous ideas on how to punish the economy.

Actually they ran out of ideas at all, as there obviously wasn’t a master plan on how to lead the country back on track. So they visited a fortune teller to help them with the overall guidance and planning.

Isn’t that great?

During that whole time Thaksin was still not allowed to come back to his home country, he was staying in London and Manchester, Hong Kong and Bali. It will be interesting to see what will happen next:

If how it turns out now, the new pro-Thaksin People’s Power Party (PPP) will be a serious contender in the new parliament, things can change dramatically in the next few months.

Will things get back on track?

Will the Military lose its influence?

Had Thailand just lost a year to this Military Coup?

We can just sit back and watch. Despite its political troubles, Thailand is still a nice country for short or long-term travelers, with cheap tasty food, amazing landscapes and friendly people. So if you are planning to visit South East Asia there is no reason, why you shouldn’t stopover in Phuket, Chiang Mai, Bangkok or ones of the many famous beaches in the country.

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written by Chris

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