Baht/economic crisis
Banking crisis
General issues
My profile
Barns and Noble
Thanong's Poll
Message Board
Chat Room



Send FREE Greetings!



ROXY.com Is The Fastest Way To Shop!









Try AOL Now!  up to 700 Hours FREE



Kiss.com branding

Nationalism: Yes Xenophobia: No

December 15, 2000

A wave of nationalist sentiment is becoming increasingly evident as the general election nears. This can be traced to a state of confusion and fear among the once open-minded Thai people. Many are expressing concern over job security and the difficulty of making a living. The residue from the economic crisis has not yet been cleaned up three years after the 1997 collapse of the baht.

These tough times have sparked the emergence of a combination of xenophobia and nationalism in various symbolic forms. The Thai psyche is embedded with a running fear of foreign domination, fear of the country losing its independence, fear of owners losing their businesses to foreigners, and fear of selling off local banking institutions. The political atmosphere has as a result become inward-looking.

Thaksin Shinawatra went for the name Thai Rak Thai (Thai Loves Thai) when he formed his party two years ago, billing it as a new force in politics to reclaim Thai dignity. Bhichit Rattakul, the former governor of Bangkok, has set up the Thai Motherland Party as a green party which cares for the local environment. Banharn Silapa-archa, meanwhile, has taken his Chat Thai Party - formed by the ruling elite of Soi Rachakrue - back to its roots in rural areas. Moreover, some senators have promised to amend the bankruptcy and foreclosure laws to provide more protection to Thai debtors, and to prevent foreign creditors from taking over the country.

Along the highway which links Bangkok with the heartland of the Northeast, several huge billboards proudly present Prachuab Chaiyasarn, the leader of the Seritham Party, as the next Isaan prime minister. His message is unambiguous: If Isaan hopes to achieve lasting prosperity, it can only pin its hopes on Prachuab, "the genuine son of Isaan".

Korn Dabaransi, the leader of the Chat Pattana, has always been a darling of big business. This time around he cannot afford to miss the nationalist bandwagon. In a big campaign poster on the Rama III Road, his expensively-suited figure towers over motorists on the expressway. His message: "The government must help out Thai business."

This leaves the Democrats in defensive mode, for the party has been accused of selling off Thailand to foreign interests - first to the IMF, and then to foreign banks and big multinational corporations.

Most politicians are shamelessly capitalising on nationalism, asking to what extent Thailand should liberalise its economy and protect its industries, without losing its integrity - and how the country can strike a balance between globalisation, IT revolution and financial-market turbulence.

Here we may look to His Majesty the King for guidance. In a 1997 speech, the King indicated that if only Thailand could practise the economics of self-sufficiency with a balance of trade, goods, consumption, production and sale, it can survive. On self-sufficiency, Thailand "does not have to be a hundred per cent, or even fifty per cent, but perhaps only twenty-five per cent - it will be bearable", His Majesty said.

With this guidance, nationalist sentiment in the present political atmosphere only has to come down to earth in a more rational and practical way.

BY Thanong khanthong




Ask Jeeves!



dot com mail,  dot com biz card and Web Registration













PC Hardware



Home ] Baht/economic crisis ] Banking crisis ] Overdrive ] General issues ] My profile ] Barns and Noble ] Thanong's Poll ] Message Board ] Chat Room ]