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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

THE ASIAWEEK FINANCIAL 500

Heaven for Everyone?
Thai finance chief looks for the good


THANONG BIDAYA WAS A little-known banker when he was tapped in June to become Thailandís finance minister. Anonymity is no longer an option for the man charged with restoring the countryís gravely ill economy. On Sept. 2 in Bangkok in one of his first speeches to a foreign audience, Tha-nong spun an upbeat story. Some excerpts:

On the need for greater financial accountability and transparency:

The media and bankers would like to see transparency. So why not? In the long run we have to do it anyway, so do it now. I am willing to walk in Bangkok nude to be-come transparent.

On the regional crisis:

It is hard to believe that the countries that used to be thought of as tigers have become cats. It is hard to believe that foreign creditors have suddenly turned sour just because of the [current] problems. I still believe in the fundamentals of these economies.

On investor confidence:

The bankers and foreign investors want to stay in Thailand. It is relaxing work here. And they have made so much profit. This is a heaven for everyone.

On economic recovery:

Once confidence is back it could recover within six months or a year. But it is a three-year program, as I plan it.

On his management style:

I look at forests before I look at the trees, and that is my tactic now . . . I am not very good with figures.


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