New finance minister resigns . . .
Thailand’s Finance Minister, Mr. Predee Daochai, has resigned citing health reasons, after serving less than a month in office. Many analysts see this as a setback for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s government after the country’s economic team was shaken up in mid-July when Prime Minister Prayut relieved the Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak of his duties. Somkid, a civilian with decades of political involvement at the highest level, including as both Minister of Finance and Minister of Commerce, represented continuity and experience, while Predee, a former business executive, had no previous political experience. Predee’s appointment was seen as an attempt by Prime Minister Prayut to dampen concerns of increasing domination of members of the government with military ties after the exit of Mr. Somkid and his faction.
Growing public discontent . . .
Mr. Predee’s resignation has come amid growing youth-led protests seeking political reforms and greater protection for civil liberties. Simultaneously the Thai government has received strong public backlash against a deal to purchase two submarines at a cost of nearly C$1 billion with protestors arguing money should rather be directed to supporting the economy. Although Prime Minister Prayut has postponed the expenditure, the widespread protests have demonstrated swelling discontent against the Prime Minister and the desire for reforms among many sections of the public.
Battling the economic crisis . . .
Thailand is suffering its deepest economic contraction since the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998. In the second quarter of 2020, the country reported a 12 per cent decline in GDP and the government is struggling to revive its tourism industry – the backbone of its economy. Political instability during the COVID-induced economic crisis has been causing foreign investors great concern and they are reportedly shunning Thailand as an investment destination as the short-term outlook for Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy is decidedly weak.
- Bangkok Post: Finance Minister Predee resigns after 26 days
- Bangkok Post: Investors shun Thailand as growth weakens, protests heat up
- Nikkei Asian Review: Thailand shelves Chinese submarine deal after public backlash