Published on February 14, 2008
Sungsidh Piriyarangsun, former member of the National Legislative Assembly, said he was concerned about close relationships between politicians and business groups. This could lead to more corruption in the Samak Sundaravej government, he said.
Scandals surrounding corruption had led to the end of several governments, including those of Thaksin Shinawatra, Chatichai Choonhavan and General Thanom Kittikachorn. The middle classes in Bangkok took to the streets in protest when such scandals arose, he said at seminar hosted by the National Economic and Social Advisory Council, an independent advisory body.
Prasong Lertratanavisuthi, editor of Mathichon Newspapers, had similar views, saying that there are several ministers whose backgrounds are dubious. Meanwhile, government polices such as cheap housing for the poor opened the door to corruption.
Prasong also predicted that public prosecutors could bring the case against Samak, which involves allegations of corruption during his term as Bangkok governor, to the Supreme Court by the end of the year. Confidence in the government could plunge as a result. Moreover, anticipation of a short period for this government may even encourage corruption among politicians as they seek funds for the next election, he speculated.
Vorapat Tothanakasem, managing director of Thai Rating and Information Service, was disappointed that the new government is not paying adequate attention to its image. "While family-owned businesses have tried to reduce the number of family members on their management teams in order to win the confidence of investors, many members of this current Cabinet represent political families," he said.
He is also worried that short-term polices to win popularity, such as easy credit, could lead to a collapse of the credit-payment culture.
"The government should think about the next generation, not the next election," he warned.
Looking to positive signs, Vorapat believes a government economic package aiming at boosting growth may materialise.
Sombat Thamvongthanyavong, president of the National Institute Development Administration, said the public should not take the government policies which are to be announced on February 18 seriously, because the government has few resources to implement them.
Meanwhile, the wide income gap between the rich and the poor will not be addressed by this government, he added.