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Scheduled remarks only

Since the Bank of Thailand's new building was completed, reporters stationed there have rarely seen top executives, particularly Tarisa Watanagase, the central bank's governor.

Published on December 19, 2007

This is something to which the foreign press has long been accustomed. The US Federal Reserve chairman goes public to comment on monetary policies only at scheduled press conferences.

But here in Thailand reporters expect Tarisa to be available when anything comes up and her comments are needed. That's not possible when she can hide in her office, walk freely between the two buildings through the skywalk where no reporters are allowed, sneak to her car in the basement and leave the premises through many exits.

This could be a permanent set-up as Tarisa dislikes giving daily comments, fearing people would not take seriously messages that are given so frequently.

Tarisa plans to show up now at only scheduled press conferences. Reporters will really miss her. They miss her already. When the central bank hosted a party last week, they showed their feelings. As soon as Tarisa emerged on the riverfront lawn, they rushed to greet her.

Tarisa must also have been pleased. She gave a broad smile to all and was ready to return greetings.

She must also have known in advance how much reporters missed her, for she showed up that night in a special costume - black trousers and dark purple silk blouse. Making her more fabulous was a pearl necklace. She looked different and cheerful, despite rumours she could face tough times in the year to come, due mainly to the controversial capital-control measures.

During a cruise party, she danced along to a song in a jovial way. To end the party, she joined all who held hands and sang a song about "holding hands and walking together".

"We will just walk together, but keep our mouths shut," joked one executive.

It must be so. After appearing last week, Tarisa did not attend a press conference on Monday to mark the first anniversary of the capital-control measures.

Reporters were not disappointed, though, for the governor did mention that she might not join the meeting. Still, they are still counting on her appearance at another press conference on Thailand's economic outlook to be hosted soon after New Year.

Now they know that the governor means it when she said she would only give comments at scheduled press conferences. She can be jovial and have fun with reporters, but she has demonstrated the tough side of a woman who does only what she promises.


The Nation


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