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Thailand’s doctor of finance prescribes a dose of reform

When a medical doctor with close ties to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was appointed as minister of finance many were surprised. Surapong Suebwonglee has worked hard to woo Thai people and foreign investors with tax cuts, capital markets reforms and a focus on growth. Lawrence White met him on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank meeting.

Thailand's minister of finance, Surapong Suebwonglee

Surapong Suebwonglee: democracy and progress for Thailand

It’s fair to say that a lot of people were sceptical about your appointment as finance minister, given your professional background as a doctor and lack of a track record in economic management. What would you say to people who think you’re not qualified?
It’s nice to let people underestimate you. I would remind people that my background is not only medical: I graduated from business school at the oldest university in Thailand, I’ve studied at top schools overseas and I sat in the cabinet of the Thaksin administration for five years and discussed policies. It’s not all as new to me as some people think.

From talking to people at the ADB meeting and listening to the presentations, it seems that inflation is the chief worry across large swathes of Asia at the moment.

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