The NEW 'sick man of
The Philippines for several years has been nicknamed the 'sick man of Asia' as it's
endured years of political strife and a sluggish economy, in contrast to the 'Asian tigers' of Singapore, South
Korea, Hong Kong, and Thailand.
Is Thailand, however, going to join (or even replace?) the Philippines in the 'intensive care unit'?
While I don't have a crystal ball, as I stated here , it's important when you're reading the news you possess at least a basic familiarity
of the Kingdom's politics.
While the once a year vacationer doesn't care, any future retiree/investor should.
Essentially there are two groups--The 'red shirts' and the 'yellow shirts'.
The 'red shirts' are nominally led by former Prime Minister Thaksin who was
ousted in a bloodless coup in September, 2006 after five years in office.
While the PM is a billionaire businessman, he rode to power and retains enormous support for his populist economic
policies (inexpensive health care, loans for farmers and small businesses, etc) and his 'tough' law order campaign
especially drug offenders.
Although 'on the run' from the existing Thai Government due to a conviction for 'corruption', he holds enormous
support among the poor as well as the northern and northeastern provinces.
The 'yellow shirts', currently in power, are represented by Prime
Minister Abhisit who came to power four months following the Bangkok Airport closure which saw a short lived 'red
shirt' as PM.
Geographically their core supporters are centered in Bangkok and southern Thailand. Academia, upper economic
classes, and close advisers to the Thai King is the base.
Defeated in the last general election, their protests and airport closure, precipitated the most recent
governmental change as the 'red shirt' PM was forced to step down.
So, as we now approach the third anniversary of Thaksin's ousting, Thailand has suffered through chronic street
protests from both sides, pitched battles in the streets of Bangkok, the cancellation twice of regional summits,
and a significant drop in foreign investment and tourism.
What does this mean for you, considering retirement to Pattaya?
I would think A LOT--and I have stated it many times for a reason--don't invest more than you're prepared to walk away from here .
In 1973 the Philippines GDP EXCEEDED Thailand's--today it's 1/3 less. Political instability and anti-foreigner
campaigns (see closure of Clark and Subic military bases) had devastating effects as it gradually declined.
Thailand could go the same way, unfortunately, thus plan accordingly.