Commentary: A Ray Of Sunlight For Thai Reform

The situation was looking grim for the nation that triggered Asia's economic meltdown. Thaksin Shinawatra, a tycoon and leading candidate for Prime Minister, had proposed a dubious moratorium on paying Thailand's $36 billion in corporate debt. Meanwhile, the politically powerful Senator Prachai Leophairatana was blocking a painful workout of $3.5 billion in debt at his company, Thai Petrochemical Industry. Prachai and TPI had come to symbolize Thailand's inability to clean up in the aftermath of the 1997 crisis.

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