Thailand’s GDP Release: Bad English or Intentional Cover-Up?

The Thai government’s PR department released a sanguine report on Thailand’s Q2 GDP data yesterday, glossing over the economic impact of the violent protests that flared up in April and May:

Thailand’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter of this year has expanded by 9.1%, setting the highest record of half-year figure in 13 years, according to the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB).

Source: “Half-year GDP hits 13-yrs highest“, National News Bureau of Thailand

A look at the data reveals however that real GDP actually contracted in Q2 2010 by 5.6%, not seasonally adjusted. The 9.1% growth reported by the National News Bureau refers to year-over-year growth. By this metric, Thailand’s expansion is really nothing surprising considering GDP rose from a very low base formed after the deepest contraction since the 1997-98 financial crisis. When the bar is set low, it’s quite easy to jump the bar. What’s more striking is, Thailand failed to even meet that bar in some respects:

Thailand’s ‘Black May’: 1992 vs. 2010

Thailand has continued its struggle to expand democracy since the absolute monarchy was ousted in a 1932 coup—when Siam became Thailand. Most coups and protests in Thailand have been relatively bloodless compared to the Philippines, where election violence is the norm. But once in a while, the death toll stacks up to heights that terrify Thais. As of May 18, 37 people had died in two months of protests, the bloodiest since the “Black May” protests in May 17-20, 1992, which killed at least 52 according to the official count.

Thailand’s Ex-PM Thaksin Traveling Too Close for Comfort?

The only Thailand Prime Minister to serve out a full term, Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted by the Thai military in 2006, and since then has been traveling the world as a man without a country.  Sentenced to two year prison term for corruption by Thai Supreme Court, Thaksin has eluded extradition deftly, but recently Thaksin’s increasing stopovers in Cambodia has brought a frown upon the “Land of Smiles.”