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Southeast Asia

Thailand finance: Korn dares the old guard

Korn Chatikavanij, JPMorgan’s former Thailand boss, has been a finance minister, a fintech pioneer and a philanthropist; he is now trying to disrupt politics with a new party.

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Banker, bureaucrat, author, businessman and then some, Korn Chatikavanij has crammed a lot of careers into his 55 years.

Now, just after launching a new political party that he has provocatively called ‘Dare’ (or Kra in Thai), he is hoping to add disruptor to that job list – and, many Thais believe, perhaps even prime minister.

Not that Korn will openly say so. Speaking to Asiamoney a day before his party was formally legalized in Bangkok, Korn struck a banker’s tone of cautious confidence.

“It’s hard work, and very few startup parties or newly integrated parties ever succeed historically in Thai politics,” he says: “But we are in an age of disruption here. It’s a new age. People expect and are used to change and creativity. So I think the Thai public is more ready for this kind of political disruption.”

That Korn should regard his re-entry into Thai politics as disruptive says much about how broken the coup-prone country has become, and how Korn is positioning himself as both national champion and agent of renewal.