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Survey: Thailand "Risks Rising Sharply"

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By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 13, 2007

The Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) said Tuesday in its latest survey that "risks are rising sharply in Thailand as a result of the continuing domestic political problems and the possibility of social unrest...[and that] conditions could deteriorate in 2007."

PERC a consulting firm specializing in strategic business information and analysis for companies doing business in the countries in East and Southeast Asia.

PERC's assessment is in line with other survey and consulting service reports including the information gathered by International Defense Consulting, Inc., in the United States.

PERC is based in Hong Kong.

PERC conducted surveys of leading business professionals in 14 nations to reach its conclusion.

"Thailand is the one that foreign investors should perhaps monitor most closely in the months ahead for changes that could affect business risks," said the PERC report.

Last September a bloodless military coup in Thailand deposed the democratically elected government and the generals appointed their own leadership. The U.S. condemned the action and withheld $24 million in military aid from Thailand in protest to the coup.

Then China opened a more lively discussion of military matters with Thailand. Senior officials from Thailand have visit China and China is reciprocating.China also offered Thailand $49 million worth of military aid and training.

No senior US officials have visited Thailand since the September coup and requests to have senior Thai officials visit Washington have been denied.

The largest US-Thailand military exercise, "Cobra Gold," will be the topic of high level diplomatic and political discussions this week. US and Thai defense official have told us that planning for Cobra Gold was seriously disrupted by the coup. Now a political decision must be made to proceed with the cooperative event or cancel it outright.

Also since the coup last September the ruling military and civilian coalition, which calls itself the Council for National Security (CNS) has exhibited some unusual or questionable behavior. The CNS said one reason for the coup was that the previous government had been unable to end Muslim sectarian violence in southern Thailand.

But the new government in Thailand has also been unable to stem the violence.

Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has repeatedly said that he is "fully committed" to ending the Muslim insurgency.

On Monday, Mr. Surayud and Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi reaffirmed their commitment to work closely to rebuild peace and stability in southern Thailand.

Surayud and Abdullah said in a joint press conference after a meeting in Bangkok that the two countries will take action to resolve the issue of unrest in Muslim-dominated southern Thailand, which borders northern parts of Malaysia.

Wire service reports and a filing from Wantanee in Thailand contributed to this report.

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John E. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.
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