Once considered the economic and political model of Asia, Thailand is now on the edge of becoming a failed state. The Philippines, once the “sick man of Asia” is now considered the top investment destination and most successful economic story in Asia by several major international think tanks and analysts.
Today, Thailand’s democratically elected Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been driven from Bangkok by anti-government protesters. The elite want Shinawatra to resign and be replaced by a “people’s council” which is actually a junta. She is insisting on a democratic election to choose the next government. Once Thailand gives up on democracy, there will be political instability which will have negative effects on its economy.
A dozen years ago, the Thais were among the world’s biggest consumers of luxury goods. It was the third largest car exporter in Asia. Its per capita income was double that of the Philippines. When Shinawatra was elected in 2011, there was hope that she would be able to address the economic downturn. For a while it appeared that democracy was finally working.
The Bangkok elite accuse Shinawatra of massive corruption and buying the support of the poor with programs like the rice subsidy. While this may be true, the question is whether the opposition’s alternative to appoint a junta instead of electing leaders is the solution or the beginning of an era of political instability, economic stagnation and military interventions.
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