June 26, 2014 00:00 By KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN
SAHA PATHANAPIBUL president Boonchai Chokwatana has expressed his personal support for the junta, giving it a score of 90 out of 100 based on its tangible results in reforming the country.
"The junta's one-month performance after seizing power on May 22
Saha Pathanapibul, a major distributor of consumer products, posted sales growth of only about 2 per cent in the first six months compared with the same period last year. However, shopping sentiment is returning and the business atmosphere looks quite good for the second half of this year, he said. “I believe our sales will catch up in the second half and reach our target of 7-per-cent growth this year to about Bt31 billion in sales.” Boonchai added that the company would speed up its marketing and promotion activities, which had slowed down in the first half.
“In my point of view, the recent curtailing of diplomatic ties with Thailand by the European Union will be a temporary measure,” he said.
The EU recently suspended official visits to and from Thailand as well as its partnership and cooperation agreement with the Kingdom, calling for the immediate restoration of the legitimate democratic process and the constitution. The suspensions will stay in effect until a democratically elected government is in place.
Boonchai said that if the junta encouraged media freedom and solved the country’s economic and social problems effectively, the downgrade of ties between Thailand and the EU would be reversed very soon.
“It is quite impossible for the EU not to have any trade relations with Thailand, as it needs to buy many necessary products from our country.”
He said some delay of free-trade talks between Thailand and EU countries was not a problem, as trading activities would continue. And in the end, the EU’s measures would have to be eased.
Boonchai said the junta had made a lot of progress towards reforming the country in various sectors, both in politics and economics, and many tangible results had been seen.
“I myself would like the junta to put more focus on the reform of the energy sector, which has been in a ‘twilight zone’ for a long time. If the reform is conducted successfully, it will win more favour from the people.
“I’m glad to see the junta’s reform of the educational system by adding the role and duty of being a good citizen and morality as well as history to be contained in the educational curriculum,” he said.
Boonchai said Saha Pathanapibul by the end of this year would finalise an acquisition deal with a local e-commerce company. The deal, in which Saha Pathanapibul will take a majority stake, has progressed as planned after the junta seized power from the elected government about a month ago and started to reform the country.
“We have changed ourselves from slow to speedy mode. Any business activity, including marketing and promotion, which used to be slow during the time of political unrest, will be sped up more actively.”
He said the company was negotiating with potential partners for joint-venture possibilities in diversifying itself into food and servicing businesses.