Pridiyathorn Devakula

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Mom Rajawongse
Pridiyathorn Devakula
ม.ร.ว.ปรีดิยาธร เทวกุล
Pridiyathorn Fulbright talk.JPG
Governor of the Bank of Thailand
In office
31 May 2001 – 7 October 2006
Preceded by Chatumongol Sonakul
Succeeded by Tarisa Watanagase
Deputy Prime Minister
In office
8 October 2006 – 1 March 2007
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont
Minister of Finance
In office
8 October 2006 – 1 March 2007
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont
Preceded by Thanong Bidaya
Succeeded by Chalongphob Sussangkarn
Personal details
Born (1947-07-15) 15 July 1947 (age 66)
Bangkok
Spouse(s) Polin Inthasukit (div.)
Prapaphan Devakula na Ayudhya
Residence Bangkok
Religion Buddhist

Mom Rajawongse Pridiyathorn Devakula (Thai: ม.ร.ว.ปรีดิยาธร เทวกุล; RTGS: Mom Ratchawong Pridiyathon Thewakun;  [prīːdìjāːtʰɔːn tʰēwâkūn]; born 15 July 1947) is a Thai economist. He was the Governor of the Bank of Thailand from 2001 to 2006. Following the 2006 Thai coup d'état he served as Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister in the interim civilian government led by Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont.[1] He is also the Chairman of the Board of Post Publishing Plc., the publisher of the Bangkok Post, Thailand's leading English-language newspaper.

Early life and education[edit]

He is a son of Prince Priditheppong Devakula, he is therefore a grandson of Prince Devawongse Varopakarn, and a great-grandson of King Rama IV. (Mongkut). Reflecting his distant royal descent, Thai media refer to him as Mom Ui (Thai: หม่อมอุ๋ย; "Lord Ui"), following his nickname "Ui".[2]

Pridiyathorn was educated at Saint Gabriel's College from year 1 to 12. During his childhood, Pridiyathorn rarely came second in school exams, in fact he nearly was the school icon for the student who came first in class.[citation needed] He then studied Economics at the Thammasat University, graduating with a bachelor's degree, and at the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania, where he gained an MBA in 1970.[3]

Career[edit]

From 1971 to 1990 he worked for the Thai Farmers Bank, becoming Senior Executive Vice President. In 1990 he became official spokesman for Prime Minister Chatichai Choonhavan. In the governments of Anand Panyarachun and Suchinda Kraprayoon (1991–92) he was Deputy Minister of Commerce. He was appointed member of the Thai Senate from 1992 to 1993. In 1993 he became president of the Export-Import Bank of Thailand.

Bank of Thailand Governor[edit]

In May 2001 he was appointed Governor of the Bank of Thailand, the nation's central bank. He is also a Director of the Civil Service Commission and of the Thammasat University Council. Pridiyathorn repeatedly criticised Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who took office in 2001 as well. Pridiyathorn disagreed with Thaksin's spending policy, which he saw as a cause of inflation.[3]

In 2004, the state-owned Krung Thai Bank (KTB) shocked Thailand's financial world by reclassifying approximately 40 billion baht as problem loans. Pridiyathorn threatened to fire KTB chief executive officer Viroj Nualkhair if he did not resign. Viroj was a former financial advisor to media proprietor Sondhi Limthongkul, having helped him make the initial public offering one of his first companies.[4] As Krung Thai Bank head, Viroj had forgiven 1.6 billion baht of Sondhi's debts and arranged for further rounds of forgiveness. Using all his media outlets, Sondhi attacked Pridiyathorn and defended Viroj. Viroj was eventually forced to leave Krung Thai Bank. Sondhi's public criticism of Thaksin started to increase, eventually leading to the establishment of the People's Alliance for Democracy.[5]

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance[edit]

Two days after the coup which deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the Bangkok newspaper The Nation reported that business leaders had asked the junta (Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy) to appoint Pridiyathorn as an interim prime minister. He was notably endorsed by Chatri Sophonpanich, chairman of Bangkok Bank.[6] Eventually, the junta chose retired general Surayud Chulanont as interim prime minister, but he in turn named Pridiyathorn to his cabinet as Minister of Finance, a move that business leaders saw as positive.[7] He was succeeded as governor of the Bangkok of Thailand by Tarisa Watanagase, the first woman to head the BoT.[8]

Pridiyathorn's policies as Minister of Finance included,

  • Fiscal deficits. A budget deficit of 147 billion Baht for fiscal year 2007. This was the first budget deficit since 2003.[9] Fiscal deficits were also expected for 2008.[10]
  • Suvarnabhumi City. Pridiyathorn opposed the establishment of a new province, dubbed Suvarnabhumi City, around the newly constructed Suvarnabhumi Airport. The plan to establish a new province had been proposed by the deposed government of Thaksin Shinawatra. "There are a lot of retention ponds in the area and water experts said they serve as waterways, allowing floods to flow to the sea. If there are buildings, they will obstruct water from flowing out, and cause the inner city to flood. If the Department of Town and Country Planning proposes to build a community in the area, I'll oppose it," said Pridiyathorn.[11]
  • Capital controls. Pridiyathorn instituted capital controls to attempt to reverse a strengthening of the baht, but reversed the measure after the Thai stock market crashed, destroying US$20 billion of market value in one day. Pridiyathorn later noted that “This was not a mistake. Measures always have side effects. Once we knew the side effects, we quickly fixed it.... Just one day of stocks falling is not considered much damage.”[12] He came under harsh criticism. Bratin Sanyal, head of Asian equity investments at ING in Hong Kong noted, "The one thing worse than an incompetent central bank is an incompetent central bank that flip-flops." Catherine Tan, head of Asia Emerging Markets at Forecast in Singapore, noted, "They are proving themselves to be very unprofessional. Their actions are very irresponsible. They have totally lost credibility... I don't see foreigners returning to Thailand any time in the near future. Markets now have no confidence in the government."[13] The Export-Import Bank of Thailand also criticized the capital controls.[14]
  • Limiting foreign companies investing in List I and II businesses (including media, telecoms, and aviation) from holding more than 50% of shares. List III businesses (including retailers and hotels) were exempted from the new restrictions. Investors holding more than 50% would be forced to lower their stakes within a year. Investors holding more than 50% of voting rights would be forced to lower their voting stakes within a year. Finance Minister Pridiyathorn noted, "If they (foreign investors) had seen the details (of the foreign investment law), I am sure that they would be happy."[15][16] He later backtracked, and said that telecommunications firms would be exempt from the new regulations. He claimed that he had misspoken when he earlier included the telecommunications business into the categories to be affected by the law amendments.[17]
  • Corruption investigations into Thaksin Shinawatra. Pridiyathorn sparked controversity in his dealings with Jaruvan Maintaka of the junta-appointed Assets Examination Committee. Jaruvan accused Thaksin's wife of inappropriately buying a plot of land from the Financial Institutions Development Fund (FIDF) while Pridiyathorn was FIDF Chairman. Pridiyathorn guaranteed that the purchase was legal and refused to file charges, claiming that the FIDF was not a damaged party. Jaruvan then claimed that Pridiyathorn violated the law by sitting on the boards of more than three state enterprises. Pridiyathorn countered by claiming that Jaruvan was trying to destroy his reputation.[18]
  • Monetary policy. Pridiyathorn took the unusual step of urging the Bank of Thailand to cut interest rates by half a percentage point, rather than 25 basis points as expected by most analysts. Bank of Thailand is independent of the Ministry of Finance, and did not heed Pridiyathorn's call. He resigned the next day.[19][20]

Pridiyathorn resigned on 28 February 2007. As a reason for his resignation he cited Premier Surayud's decision to appoint Pridiyathorn's rival, former Thaksin-government Finance Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, as a "self-sufficiency economy" special envoy. Somkid resigned from his position after less than a week. Another given reason was the Minister to the Office of the Prime Minister Thirapat Serirangsan's alleged preference to certain private media interests.[21] Several analysts speculated that he was referring to the preferential treatment the junta gave to leading anti-Thaksin critic Sondhi Limthongkul, who was also a long-time critic of Pridiyathorn.[22][23]

His resignation shocked the political world as well as the business community. "The reasons he gave were quite strange," noted Pornsilp Patcharinpanakul, deputy secretary-general of Board of Trade.[24] In turn, Pridiyathorn was replaced by Chalongphob Sussangkarn. Junta leader General Saprang Kalayanamitr was also implicated in Pridiyathorn's resignation. The Bangkok Post reported that Pridiyathorn resigned in protest after a CNS member lobbied him to sell shares of IRPC (formerly known as Thai Petrochemical Industry) back to a former shareholder. Saprang's brother, Chienchuan, was a key financial advisor to Prachai Liaophairat, the estranged founder of TPI.[25][26]

Economic advisor to the 2014 junta[edit]

Pridiyathorn was an outspoken critic of Yingluck Shinawatra's government, especially referring to the scheme promising a fixed minimum rice price to farmers.[27] In November 2013 he estimated the costs caused by the programme at 425 billion baht.[28] In February 2014 he called Yingluck's economic policies a failure and asked her to step down.[29] Instead, he called for the appointment of a "neutral", unelected government.[30]

After the 22 May 2014 coup d'état, the junta—which calls itself National Council for Peace and Order—appointed Somkid member of its "advisory board" in charge of economic issues.[31]

Wealth[edit]

Disclosures to the National Counter Corruption Commission revealed that 30 days after leaving his Cabinet position in March 2007, Pridiyathorn had 730 million baht in assets, a slight drop from 754 million baht when he took office in October 2006. His wife Praphaphan has a net worth of 283 million baht, while his daughter Pudjeep has 7 million baht.[32]

Decorations[edit]

Pridiyathorn holds the titles Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of the Most Noble Order of the White Elephant and Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of the Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand.

Ancestry[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Nation. October 9, 2006. Surayud Cabinet appointed by royal command.
  2. ^ "“ดร.โกร่ง” พ้นเก้าอี้ ปธ.แบงก์ชาติ สะพัด “ทนง-หม่อมอุ๋ย” ตัวเต็งคนใหม่" (in Thai). Manager. 2013-07-14. Retrieved 2013-07-14. 
  3. ^ a b "A Trusted Leader for Turbulent Times, Pridiyathorn Devakula, WG’70", 125 Influential People and Ideas (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania) 
  4. ^ The Nation, "New party, old friends aid Sondhi", 11 April 2002
  5. ^ The Nation, The good old days, 30 November 2005
  6. ^ Business chiefs want Pridiyathorn as prime minister
  7. ^ Business reporters. October 10, 2006. Executives upbeat on new line-up, The Nation.
  8. ^ Srisukkasem, Anoma. October 18, 2006.Tarisa becomes BOT's first female chief, The Nation.
  9. ^ The Nation, Massive loss from Thaksin projects, 16 November 2006
  10. ^ Bangkok Post, Deficit to continue into fiscal 2008, 17 February 2007
  11. ^ Bangkok Post, Pridiyathorn opposes 'Suvarnabhumi City', 1 November 2006
  12. ^ New York Times, After Thai Stocks Plunge, a Policy Shift Is Revised, 20 December 2006
  13. ^ USA Today, Thailand's stock market bounces back, but financial analysts rip leaders, 20 December 2006
  14. ^ Bangkok Post, Exim Bank raps central bank policy, 28 March 2007
  15. ^ The Nation, Thailand to limit foreign stake in firms to 50 per cent, 9 January 2007
  16. ^ Bloomberg, Thailand Tightens Overseas Investment Rules, Caps, 9 January 2007
  17. ^ Bangkok Post, Telecom firms won't face new rules, 10 January 2007
  18. ^ The Nation, Departure not totally unexpected, given recent controversies, 1 March 2007
  19. ^ The Nation, Ministry calls for big cut by BOT, 28 February 2007
  20. ^ Bangkok Post, Central bank lowers key rate, 28 February 2007
  21. ^ Bangkok Post, Pridiyathorn resigns as deputy prime minister and finance minister, 28 February 2007
  22. ^ IHT, Thai minister resigns amid cabinet disarray, 28 February 2007
  23. ^ The Nation, Pridiyathorn resigns as deputy PM, finance minister, 28 February 2007
  24. ^ The Nation, Concern over stability of govt, 1 March 2007
  25. ^ The Nation, Ethanol rises to Bt23 per litre, 23 March 2006
  26. ^ Bangkok Post, Goings on at Channel 9, 8 March 2007
  27. ^ Surasak Tumcharoen (14 February 2014). "News Analysis: Post-election crisis could prolong political uncertainty in Thailand". Xinhua. 
  28. ^ Supunnabul Suwannakij; Suttinee Yuvejattana (13 November 2013). "Thailand Spurns IMF’s Call to Rethink Rice-Purchase Program". Bloomberg. 
  29. ^ "Pridiyathorn calls Yingluck a failed government". Thai PBS. 6 February 2014. 
  30. ^ "Pridiyathorn calls on PM to quit". Bangkok Post. 7 February 2014. 
  31. ^ "Prawit, Somkid, Pridiyathorn named advisers". Bangkok Post. 27 May 2014. 
  32. ^ The Nation, Pridiyathorn tops latest NCCC, 29 April 2007

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
M.R. Chatumongol Sonakul
Governor of the Bank of Thailand
2001-2006
Succeeded by
Tarisa Watanagase
Political offices
Preceded by
Thanong Bidaya
Minister of Finance
2006-2007
Succeeded by
Chalongphob Sussangkarn