RESTORING INVESTOR CONFIDENCE: Premier seeks to clear the air
May 3, 2001
PRIME Minister Thaksin Shinawatra next week goes on his first overseas
roadshow to meet Chinese President Jiang Zemin and former US president
Bill Clinton, among other political and business leaders, at the Fortune
Global Forum in Hong Kong.
Thaksin is meeting today with top officials from the Foreign Ministry
and the PM's Office as well as his key advisers to go over the main thrust
of his speech at the forum. The goal: To restore investor confidence in
his administration's policies.
Jiang's opening remarks at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre
will kick off the session called Next Generation Asia on Tuesday. Thaksin,
who will leave for Hong Kong on Tuesday night, will give the keynote address
on the following evening to some 500 political and business leaders. Clinton's
talk will conclude the events on Thursday.
Thai officials said Thaksin will have to deliver a momentous speech that
captures the soul of his government.
"The Foreign Ministry is going to work on the speech.
Pansak Winyaratn [the prime minister's chief adviser] will also look at
it," one official said.
Finance Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai
will accompany the prime minister as he seeks to clarify his government's
Thaksin's speech at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission
for Asia and the Pacific last week provoked a mixed reaction from the
international community. He is expected to use this opportunity to reinforce
Thailand's firm commitment to international rules and an open-door policy
towards foreign investment. So far Thaksin has been subjected to criticism
by the foreign media, which mostly view the economic programme of his
government as an attempt to turn back the clock.
At one point, Thaksin blamed himself for not making his meaning clear
to foreign investors. His personal view is that Thailand needs to rely
more on its inner strengths as it moves to embrace globalisation. But
the message that emerged gave the impression that the Thaksin administration
is becoming more inward looking or is trying to turn away from foreign
direct investment. Thaksin is assembling his team to rectify this misconception.
In Hong Kong, Thaksin will host a breakfast for Jiang. The topics will
likely centre on cooperation in the suppression of illicit drugs and the
rice trade. Thaksin will also meet with Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong's chief
By Thanong Khanthong