Thai Central Bank Chief Calls For Political Reform

Not many people know that one of the most influential people in Thailand’s banking world is a woman. Tarisa Watanagase has been educated in the USA and in Japan. She joined the Central Bank in 1975, and has helped to oversee Thailand’s economy ever since.

Now, she’s about to let former Kasikorn Bank president Prasarn Trairatvorakul take over her position as Central Bank chief and go into a not yet clearly defined form of retirement, although she will still be involved.

I found it particularly interesting what she said about the state of politics in Thailand.

“If you look at the economic front, we have been through some major reforms and that is why right now we are resilient, but in terms of politics we haven’t yet seen major reforms,” she told AFP.

Tarisa is clearly disappointed that the economic progress the country has made has not been replicated in a political system prone to accusations of corruption, scandal and military interference.

“I would like to see that we can migrate from a developing country to a developed one and that does not require only economic progress,” she said.

In the AFP article, they go on to explain a bit about the current situation in Thailand with the red and yellow divide. And then they write this interesting statement:

Tarisa said dialogue, a more socially minded attitude and moves to address inequality — a key Red Shirt demand — were crucial for the country’s progress.

Addressing inequality would in fact probably be one of the most helpful things for Thailand right now. Specially if you consider that there are a lot of people who spend more money on a handbag than or a necklace than most citizen earn in a year. Which of course in and of itself is not a bad thing – but the fact that these people most often enjoy these privileges because of the families they are born into, or power networks they bought their way into, rather than because of individual achievements is saddening. Specially if you take into account the attitudes which they often display towards people of lower social status. And that they in fact are pretty much able to get away with whatever they do.

A friend of mine recently lost her job – she is contractually entitled to three months of compensation, of which she will never see a single baht. Why? Because her employer has so much money that any attempt to sue for her rightful compensation would be futile.