Thailand’s Ministers send wrong message to international investors

Ministers from Thailand are resisting the law and failed to step down as required by the Constitution. Finance Minister Surapong Suebwonglee, Labor Minister Uraiwan Thienthong and Deputy Transport Minister Anurak Jureemas are fighting graft charges but refuse to step down. This has the effect of making Thailand appear unattractive to international investors by showing that the Thai government does not care about laws.

When a company from outside Thailand considers setting up shop in Thailand, one of the factors they look at is Thai laws. Laws become a security blanket for companies as a form of protection from extortion and corruption. When top government official show very publicly no respect for a very clearly spelled out law, investors think twice and perhaps thrice about moving to Thailand.

Thailand is known well for it’s double standard. Any foreigner who lives in Thailand knows to send out his Thai wife or girlfriend to shop to get things at the Thai price and not at the inflated foreigners price. Although that in itself is not against the law, it does show willingness by Thais to exploit non Thais. A foreign company does not have that luxury, they rely on laws to insure some level of fairness. When the laws mean nothing to government officials, it can make a company feel naked in a storm.

If a company is exposed to the whims of greedy and corrupt Thai politicians, the company will be forever hindered as long as it remains in Thailand. This has the effect of making other southeast Asian countries more attractive. If the lawlessness at the top looks to be ongoing without an end in sight, there will be no major investments in Thailand and foreign companies will start to move out as it is the common sense thing to do. However this is no cheap ‘load everything into a moving van and go’ action. Significant money must be spent to move a big company out of Thailand.

This will have left a bad taste in the mouth of that Company and before selecting Thailand again in the distant future, there must be some super incentives before at company would want to move back. Those super incentives may be tax breaks as well as other things that will eventually hurt Thailand’s coffers.

The Thai Ministers seem to forget that they are on a global stage and not just a Thai stage. All eyes are now focused on Thailand because of the potential flashpoint between Thailand and Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple. The dispute over the Preah Vihear temple is also international fallout from the government not caring about the Thai laws.

By not stepping down the Ministers in question simply give Thailand a bad face to the world. It is clear the Ministers in questions have a personal agenda and not an agenda for the Thai people. If their agenda was for the Thai people they would already have stepped down without delay.

All this lawlessness comes from the People Power Party (PPP). Members of other parties namely the democrats stepped down without question or delay when they were being scrutinized. Ironically enough the PPP gave the democrats a hard time simply to do what was the right thing to do.

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