Saturday, February 18, 2006

simple-minded anti-foreigner rant in today's Nation

From today's 'Opinion' section:

Economic liberalisation is good in theory. In reality, Thais will be ripped off in the end. A country where most of the 63 million people are poorly educated, live in the agriculture sector, and try to make ends meet, won’t stand a chance against the capital, the technology and superior management brought by globalisation. You must have an educated population and skilled workforce before you accelerate the pace of economic liberalisation. Otherwise, liberalisation must be done cautiously in a gradual and calculated pace. Foreigners help the Thais to prosper, but they can also take away everything. --Thanong Khanthong

Comparing Thailand to Argentina is an old standby of knee-jerk op-Ed pieces and just as dumb now as it was the first in print. By the author's own description, Argentina faced regional trade problems that were the cause of its undoing, not privatization itself.

Thailand is not a poor country, just poorly managed. The fact that Thais are still dirt poor and badly educated in 2006 is NOT a good argument for maintaining the status quo where the country's resources exist only for the benefit of the corrupt and decadent Thai ruling class. To say that changes should occur slowly is a joke. Change has been slow enough.

And how exactly could the "capital, the technology, and superior management" brought by foreigners be a bad thing for the average Thai? Maybe a bad thing for upper-middle class Thai managers who have historically gotten by on skin color and daddy's connections, because now Thai consumers won't have to accept the so-called 'Thai' way of doing things.

Hypocritical really, all this foreigner bashing, given that shopping for imported fashion items at tacky uber-malls like Siam Paragon is the number one pastime of the rich and spoiled of this country, not one of whom would actually buy a Thai made product or invest in a Thai company over a foreign one if given the chance.

Finally, it is important to remember that doing things more efficiently and with less corruption adds value to the whole economy, creating a bigger pie for everyone. More liberal foreign participation in the Thai economy would raise standards (including journalistic ones) and increase the net wealth held by Thai citizens, not the opposite.