Thai petchems shrug off Red Shirts' rally to oust PM

08 April 2009 06:39  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--Thailand’s petrochemical players should have discounted the country’s shaky politics to be overly concerned by the ongoing mass protest in Bangkok, industry sources and analysts said on Wednesday.

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) expects the red-clad supporters of ousted Prime Minister (PM) Thaksin Shinawatra, or the “Red Shirts”, to swell to 300,000 in number today to demand the dissolution of the parliament and the forced removal of incumbent PM Abhisit Vejjajiva from office.

It was the turn of the tide as the protests late last year was led by the yellow-wearing supporters of Thailand’s royalty that culminated with the resignation of former PM Somchai Wongsawat and the disbandment of his People Power Party (PPP).

But the country's main petrochemical hub is located at the Mab Ta Phut industrial estate in Rayong province, about 200km away from Bangkok.

“It’s business as usual for us and we’re just going about the normal routine work,” said a source from Thai conglomerate Siam Cement Group (SCG).

Another local polyethylene (PE) producer echoed this sentiment and said that there has been no impact on business.

“This has been going on for two, three years already. People are already used to this,” said Naphat Chantaraserekul, senior investment analyst with brokerage firm, Kim Eng Securities.

“The thing is that you have to live with it and adjust to the new political situation,” he added.

The Thai police tallied that only about 30,000 “Red Shirts”, roughly a tenth of what UDD leaders had expected, turned up at the rally that started at 10am Bangkok time (02:00 GMT) today, according to reports from news daily The Bangkok Post.

About 5,000 military personnel and 2,250 police officers have been dispatched to areas around the government house to control the crowd which turned violent yesterday.

Protestors had attacked PM Abhisit’s convoy on Tuesday as he was coming from a Cabinet meeting in Pattaya in the Gulf of Thailand.

With additional reporting by Chow Bee Lin

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By: Bohan Loh
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