still four, five years away: ex-PM Anand
Oct 13, 2001
Former prime minister Anand Panyarachun predicted yesterday
it would take four or five more years for Thailand to fully recover from the economic
crisis, and advised the political leadership to "balance hope and vision with
Giving a speech on "Thailand in Anand's Opinion" at a charity
dinner organised by the alumni association of the National Defence College, the
former prime minister expressed mixed feelings about the progress of the country's
political reform and called on the nation to quickly pull itself together to cope
with a gloomy economic outlook.
The government, in particular, must "do
more homework, listen more and pay less attention to vested interests," he said.
voiced concern about over-capacity in several Thai industries, the liquidity trap
in the banking sector, and inadequate debt restructuring of financial institutions.
"Our debt restructuring is not debt restructuring as such. It's more of debt rescheduling
in most cases," he said.
The over-capacity will weaken Thailand's competitiveness
"at a time when international competition has been heating up every minute."
industrial sectors such as steel and paper require restructuring to reduce excess
capacity, Anand said, noting that while Japan has two major steel manufacturers,
Thailand has about 30.
"Without rationalisation, the survival chances of
some of our industries are slim," he said.
Reiterating that he was only
expressing his opinion and did not have complete economic data, Anand predicted
that with the global economic slowdown and fall-out from the terrorist attacks
on the United States, it would take four or five more years for Thailand to recover
from the current economic crisis.
To get Thailand out of the crisis, "it's
not wrong [for political leaders] to have hope and vision", Anand said. "But reality
must be always weighed against them, or any vision can easily turn into a daydream."
political reform, Anand hailed three major phenomena which have taken place since
the 1992 pro-democracy uprising - the drastically reduced role of the military
in politics, democratic changes of government and ever-increasing public willingness
to get involved in the political process.
"But while soldiers have left
politics, have they left vested business interests? And while politicians surrendered
to the 1997 Consti-tution, they haven't changed their thinking. The selection
process for members of key constitutional independent bodies still provides loopholes
for unscrupulous things to happen," he said.
Anand stressed the importance
of a free media and deplored the fact that the military and the state are still
controlling major media outlets.