Tight at the Top

It is still quite tight at the top of the Thai Premier League with four teams divided by just three points – leading the way are Bangkok Glass, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Thai-Port FC. Second are the Chonburi Sharkheads, who beat the Nakhon Pathom Paddyfields 3-0. Glass are unbeaten after 11 games and have 25 points, with the Sharkoes on 23 points, followed by the Osotspa Barely Legal Stimulants with 23 also and then the Muang Thong Exhibition Centres fourth on 22 points.

At the bottom, the Chulalongkorn Hippocratic Oath Breakers have just 6 points, the same as the Sri Racha Devotees and, above them with 9 points, the Nay-Rayong Blue Shirts.

Keeping up the tradition of football managers, players and supporters around the world, the referees are coming up for a good level of abuse: “Han Hamser of Bangkok Glass FC ” To be honest, I’ve never seen such a terrible referee since Thai league starts. It messed up our game.”

Meanwhile, the Samut Songkhran Rice-Based Distilled Beverges have had to contend with the plague: “Somchai Chuaybunchom of Samut Songkram ” It was one of the good game we have eventhough the players were not 100%. There were some of our main players has got Chicken pox. Also Kanueng had got the exam so he came later. We couldn’t do much at first. We had a chance from penalty too but we couldn’t do it. I hope next match will be better as we will have all players back.”

The big match in the forthcoming round of games will be the Sharkoes at home to the Exhibition Centres. Meanwhile, in Division 2, Chiang Rai have seven wins out of seven and play Petchabun, who have six wins out of seven. Division One is being dominated by Police United, which name stands for itself. The other promotion spots are currently held by the Army Neutrals and the Thai Honda Reliables.

The 3Ls Strategy

At a conference between representatives of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Thai trades unions in February:

“Professor Dr Voravidh Charoenloet, Faculty of Economics, Chiang Mai University stated that it would take longer to recover from this crisis in comparison to the 1997 crisis when the economy recovered in only 2-3 years. This crisis, he observed, had a direct impact on the real economy and was causing an economic recession the world over. Moreover, the economic growth rates of Thailand relied mainly on the 3L Strategies of low wages, low productivity and long working hours. Thai workers are among those working the longest hours in the world, in order to secure sufficient income for feeding the family.”

This 3L strategy is, in my opinion, now no longer tenable, given the impact of the economic crisis on the continuing drain in competitiveness represented by the rise of China and Vietnam. Decreased demand around the world will lead to manufacturing workers in the export sectors losing their jobs (which we are already seeing – unemployment is now being estimated at reaching two million by the end of this year). Thailand is especially vulnerable to external shocks (i.e. unexpected events anywhere in the world) because of its reliance on exports and tourism and the need to import so much oil and gas from overseas. The current government is taking some steps to provide support to redundant workers but the measures appear to be both temporary and short-term in nature. There is not much point in retraining workers for jobs which do not exist, for example.

Back in 2001, the incoming Thai Rak Thai government had a vision for the economy that emphasized promotion of domestic capitalists and regional development as a means of countering the vulnerability to external shocks while still remaining open to the world (the processes of globalization are such that it would be impossible to become a closed society and ruinous to try it). Unfortunately, that vision has been lost owing to the military coup and its supporters on the right such that, now, the current government has no discernible policy for the future of the economy beyond continuing as before. However, the means by which a poor country becomes a middle income country (as Thailand now is), are not the same means by which a middle income country can become a high income country. This is the so-called Middle Income Trap. An example of what to do from here is South Korea – it is not too late to begin to emulate Korean success and increasingly important to do so.

Illegal Airport Occupation Continues – Bloodshed Seems Increasingly Unavoidable

There has been no improvement overnight – the PAD remains in illegal occupation of Suvarnabhumi airport and have also forced the closure of Don Mueang. A few diplomats and officials are getting in and out via U Tapao military airport but thousands of passengers, mostly tourists, are stranded not just in Bangkok but across the country. Economically it is a disaster. Thousands of jobs will be lost and the poor and working class will of course suffer the most.

The likelihood of force being used to end the occupation increases by the hour – PAD ringleaders are refusing to obey court orders to leave the premises and refuse requests by the army chief to vacate the airport (although it is not clear exactly how much help PAD continues to receive from at least some factions in the military).

The government is obliged to do something to restore the rule of law – numerous foreign governments, including the EU, have called for non-violent means to resolve the situation but nevertheless said that the situation must be resolved. Many of the PAD’s useful idiot class seem quite happy to die as ‘martyrs.’ Bloodshed seems unavoidable (of course there are still gunfire and low level explosions going off – possibly by PAD elements to keep the temperature high).

No meeting between PM Somchai and HM the King has taken place, despite reports yesterday – perhaps no such meeting was ever scheduled or communication took place by telephone? Who knows how these things are managed? Well, someone presumably but not me.

PAD ringleaders continue to spout diatribes against the elected government and its supporters , including the most offensive insults. Whatever happens now and in the future, there are going to be thousands of people remaining who believe that this stuff is true and that the politicians really are the terrible people falsely portrayed by the demagogues. That is going to represent a serious threat to public order and security for years to come.