Feb 25, 2014

Inequality & Thailand political saga

Straits Times has an interesting piece discussing about the inequality issue and current Thailand political situation:

Can protests fix inequality in Thailand?
Tan Hui Yee

The Straits Times
Publication Date : 25-02-2014



The intriguing part of this divisive landscape is that everyone agrees Thailand seriously needs reform. Asean's second largest economy is one of the most unequal societies in Asia. In 2011, the most recent year for which official figures are available, its Gini coefficient, a widely used measure of inequality, stood at 0.484. This was lower than Hong Kong's 0.537 that year, but higher than the United States' 0.475. The Gini yardstick ranges from zero to one, with higher values meaning more inequality. Singapore's Gini coefficient last year was 0.463.

Chulalongkorn University economist Pasuk Phongpaichit laid bare more figures in a forum last month: About 100,000 bank accounts, each with more than US$300,000, account for nearly half the value of all bank deposits in the country. Yet these accounted for 0.5 per cent of the total number of bank accounts. The top 10 per cent of land owners own 61 per cent of total title land, she noted.

Land that is not put to commercial use is subject to negligible taxes but there have been no serious attempts to raise them because most politicians are among the top land owners, said Pasuk.


Sick of politicians, they had joined the whistle-blowing crowds in the hope of overhauling the entire system. While they did not entirely trust protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban - a former senior Democrat tainted by graft allegations - they had warmed to his vow to give up politics after forcing Yingluck out. To them, Suthep was somewhat less repugnant than Thaksin, the ousted premier who lives in Dubai to evade a jail sentence for corruption.


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