Government officials deny that invitations to Thailand’s top 20 tycoons to play their part in effecting the country’s economic recovery is a ‘begging’ exercise. They said the letter being drafted to the business leaders would clarify matters next week. They also made it clear, at this point, that they were unaware of what names will be on the list.

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam and government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat have reacted to online criticism following the announcement by Thailand’s Prime Minister on Friday night that he is seeking advice and guidance from 20 of the country’s richest business leaders as the government maps out an economic comeback. The Thai Prime Minister said on Friday that he envisaged these top tycoons, who are among the richest in the world, playing a ‘key role’ in helping revive Thailand’s economic prospects.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam and government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat have clarified that the Thai prime minister is not looking for financial assistance from top tycoons following distorted online criticism and lampooning of the government leader’s overture to Thailand’s top business people on Friday night.

On Saturday, following an online campaign critical of the government’s invitation to Thailand’s top tycoons and business leaders for consultations over the country’s path to economic recovery after the coronavirus catastrophe, the Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam accused online commentators of distorting the PM’s message on Friday night during a live TV address.

The criticism online had interpreted the approach as a ‘begging’ exercise.

Mr Wissanu stressed that the invitation, which came during a 10-minute address to the nation, was not a request for financial assistance from Thailand’s wealthiest families or top business people.

He also added that he was not aware of who was on the list of the 20 people being invited. 

Government not sending letter asking for money

‘I don’t know who these 20 people are. I only check the content to be put in the letter,’ Mr Wissanu disclosed. ‘The government will not send the letters asking for money. Let’s wait to see what’s inside them. But I can assure you we’re not begging for money. Everything will be clearer next week because the prime minister will check the details himself.’

Seeking the benefit of the expertise and experience of Thailand’s top players during this economic challenge

The same message was reiterated by government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat.

She explained that the prime minister was simply seeking to consult with the business people and benefit from their expertise and experience as the government formulates a plan to take Thailand’s economy forward.

‘We want to listen to views from all sectors, to have them participate,’ she said.

Spokeswoman unaware of the names on the list

Ms Narumon was also unaware of just what names were on the PM’s list. It is thought that this will be clarified next week when the open letters are sent out.

The government spokeswoman also made it clear that she was unaware of what format the consultations between the prime minister and the business tycoons will take.

Prime Minister as quite specific last Friday

On Friday, the Prime Minister himself was more specific in what he envisaged as he made his appeal to Thailand’s top tier.

‘I ask you to share your capabilities and intelligence, as well as your visionary views, and use your high-potential organisations to help deal with the crisis we’re facing now,’ he said in Thai.

Call for cooperation from Thai business tycoons who rank among the richest in the world

The Prime Minister referred to an economic ‘Team Thailand’ to guide the country forward when he launched his initiative.

‘I’ll send an open letter to the 20 richest people in the country, asking them to tell me how they, as senior members of society, can cooperate with us and what they can do to help the country more going forward. These rich people have a lot of influence on the country’s economy and rank among the richest in the world,’ he explained.

Prayuth said he wanted to see this group play a ‘key role’ in helping the country overcome the challenge

‘I would like to ask them to play a key role in jointly helping the country and join us as members of Team Thailand. I understand and very much appreciate what some of them have already done but I want all of them to do more. I know all of them are willing, especially at a time when the country needs help the most because I know the troubles faced by Thais are your pain.’

Further reading:

PM calls in business tycoons to help the country crawl back to economic normality after virus

Government begins looking at borrowing options to fund huge ฿1.9 trillion economy rescue package

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Thailand faces a third shock after the virus if high debt and the informal economy are not prioritised

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