Thailand 2007

By | December 17, 2021

HUMAN AND ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY

State of Southeast Asia. The population, with a census in 2000, was 60,606,947 residents for a density of 118 residents / km 2. Population growth rates are progressively decreasing (the birth rate was 13.8%, the death rate was 7% in 2006). The population is mainly rural (70 % in 2004), the main urban area is that of the capital Bangkok (8.5 million residents).

After the financial crisis that hit the Asian markets in 1997-98, a less brilliant economic recovery took place in Thailand than in the more dynamic countries of the area, characterized by a sometimes uncontrolled and chaotic development in the capital area and in some tourist areas. In 2005, GDP growth (+ 4.5 %) was decidedly lower than expected, also due to disasters such as the tsunami of December 2004, which hit the western coasts of the country; Prolonged drought and the avian flu epidemic also played a major role. The primary sector (which absorbs about 45% of employed) is mainly based on the production of rice, cassava, rubber and sugar cane. Manufacturing activities are also quite developed: the sectors with the highest growth rates are those relating to electronics, means of transport, construction materials, as well as the food industry; textiles and leather goods are more subject to Chinese competition.

International tourism, an important voice of the Thai economy, suffered a significant decline in 2005 (11.4 million arrivals) due not only to the damage caused by the tsunami to tourist facilities (which, moreover, have now returned to almost full operation), but also of the situation of instability linked to the revolts of Muslim separatist groups in three of the southern provinces. In September 2006, a coup d’état led to the installation of a provisional government. However, the climate of political uncertainty delays the start of the modernization plan which envisages the implementation of large public investments in the sectors of transport, water systems, health and, finally, education.

HISTORY

The fragile democratization process started in the 90s of the 20th century. from Thailand, traditionally subject to military power, failed to consolidate, and during the early 2000s the country was again subject to serious political instability, which was aggravated by the resumption of ethnic-religious clashes in all the southern areas, economically depressed and politically marginalized because they are inhabited by a predominantly Muslim population. For Thailand history, please check historyaah.com.

The government headed by Chuan Leekpai, leader of the Pak Prachatipat (Democratic Party), in office since 1997, despite having initiated important constitutional and financial reforms was unable to dent the strong ties between the elites economic, military and even, policies which polluted the normal conduct of government practices, nor to make significant improvements to the living conditions of the population, which was even further penalized by the cuts in public spending.

This situation created a profound distrust in the electorate towards traditional parties, which benefited the new nationalist-inspired Thai Rak Thai (Thais love Thais) political formation, which had been founded in July 1998 by multi-billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, the owner of the most important telecommunications company in the country.

Presenting himself in the general elections of January 2001 presenting a program with strong populist tones, Thaksin Shinawatra obtained support especially in rural areas, and managed to lead his party to victory: the Thai Rak Thai won 248 seats out of 500, compared to 128 in the Pak Prachatipat. Leading a center-right coalition – formed not only by Thai Rak Thai, but also by Chart Thai (Thai nation, 41 seats) and Pak Kwam Wang Mai (Party of the new aspiration, 36 seats, which in March 2002 would have merged into the Thai Rak Thai) – the new head of the government implemented a strongly centralizing and authoritarian policy, which seriously jeopardized the freedom of expression of political opponents and of those who criticized the new and heavy intertwining between public and private interests, of which the premier’s companies were protagonists.

The recourse to indiscriminate use of violence was also accentuated, both against the independence movement in the southern regions, which had resumed armed actions starting from April 2001, and in the fight against drug trafficking, launched by the government in February 2003 and translated into many cases in summary executions of suspects.

Despite the poor results achieved in both sectors and the repeated critical interventions of the monarchy regarding the work of the government, the popularity of Thaksin Shinawatra, also guaranteed by the total control exercised over the media, did not suffer any backlash.

In the legislative elections of February 2005, Thai Rak Thai obtained an absolute majority of seats (377, against 96 for Pak Prachatipat and 25 for Chart Thai), and Thaksin Shinawatra was reconfirmed as head of the government. In January 2006, however, the sale of his company, considered strategic for the national economy, to a Singapore holding company, coalesced opposition and public opinion against him, and in February the government was forced to resign and call new elections for the following April. Boycotted by the opposition parties, the vote inevitably sanctioned the victory of the Thai Rak Thai, but, following the protests of the population and the intervention of the king, in May the result was annulled by the Constitutional Court. Pending new consultations, set for October, Thaksin Shinawatra resumed power, but in September, while he was in New York to participate in the work of the UN General Assembly, a bloodless coup d’état carried out by military close to the monarchy dismissed. Power was assumed by a National Security Council, formed by the military, which appointed (Oct) Surayud Chulanont as interim prime minister, and announced the postponement of the elections to 2008 and the intention to draft a new Constitution.

Thailand 2007