Saturday, September 21, 2019

Rice policy is a losing war

Feb 18. 2013
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Re: "Rice gamble could be an expensive fiasco", February 17.


I would add heaping warehouses full of steaming-hot hom mali criticism to Vint Chavala’s comments.
First, that it should not be too difficult for the opposition and civic groups in the not-too-distant future to prove official malfeasance, gross negligence and total mismanagement of public funds (in the form of government-owned nearly rotten rice by the tens of thousands of tonnes) – especially at a time when the entire Asean region is facing a variety of serious financial challenges from a difficult global economic crisis, while much of greater Asia is experiencing slowing export growth and rising inflation (not to mention a rise in likely regional armed conflicts).
Second, that the warehousing, inspection, weighing, transporting and milling costs, along with other administrative and associated costs (read highly possible corruption) of clinging to an obviously misguided, politically populist strategy of forming a rice cartel will only serve to entrench and fossilise the already failed policy. This is much like a failed and unwinnable war that resembles the Vietnam syndrome: the GRF is definitely a success in that regard – bogging the government down in an effort that requires great cost and effort to ever truly resemble a victory. The government must exit immediately or face certain bitter political defeat – at not only great human and material cost, but with serious loss of face and diminished credibility.
Third, it will become impossible for the immeasurably wise Pheu Thai leader and Co to realise total defeat (or responsibility, for that matter) for the utter disaster until it is too late – and then probably only post haste by finally, rightly, being voted out of power or being otherwise kicked out.
Then, the opposition’s, or another party’s, leaders are stuck with the unenviable task of dumping (literally) billions of baht’s worth of substandard rice, or to pay even more and leave it to rot. Isn’t this where the Hopewell project ended?
What about the failed iron-fisted policies during a certain period not so long ago that fuelled the Muslim insurgency in the South? The carnage and the untenable position the government finds itself in, faced with the region’s most violent and prolonged conflict of the new millennium, should serve as a graphic, grim reminder of that famous proverb, “All that glitters isn’t gold.”
Once the course is determined and executed, who will clean up the mess? Your corporations, taxpayers, soldiers, teachers, doctors, nurses, hardworking unsung heroes, innocent victims and legions of the poor will, of course, as always.
Better Get Used To It 

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