Thursday, August 21, 2008

King is Worth $35 Billion: Source of Pride or National Embarassment?

Courtesy of Forbes:

At the top of our list is Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whose $35 billion estimated net worth is up sevenfold as a result of increased transparency of his Crown Property Holdings. He takes the top spot from the only other Asian monarch on the list, the Sultan of Brunei, worth $20 billion, one of only two rulers worth less than they were last year.

Of course, the Thai media won't touch this with a ten-foot pole, because they love to propagate that the king is poor.

Should the Thai people care? Should they be concerned if the king pays taxes?

Unfortunately, it is illegal for Thais to have an opinion on the subject.

There is no doubt that the king has hundreds of little projects across the country that he funds out of his own pocket, which is good, but Thailand has so many pressing needs from AIDS to an education crisis that more money can be spent from his largesse.

With that money, he could create a world-class university on par with some of the best in the world. He could create high-tech parks. He could pore hundreds of millions into environmental preservation or buy land and redistribute it to landless farmers.

Look at what Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, the Emirs in the UAE are doing with their billions.

The king doesn't even come close to their generosity. It is quite an embarrassment, really.

Bangkok Pundit has comments on the story here.


fall said...

I will have to goes agains you on this one. And for the love of the almighty Thai law, some thing are better left unsaid.

Should they be concerned if the king pays taxes?
Why? The money got his face on it. Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s...

...more money can be spent from his largesse.
So does Mr. T and all other rich guys who earn their money from selling booze and other deadly-sin. Or normal people can stop eating at restaurant and save up money to those in need or child-fund. Free will.

Rikker said...

Here's something to put that into perspective... a minimum wage earner making 200 baht per day would have to work for 17 million years to earn that much money.

Last I heard, the average life expectancy was still somewhat shy of that, medical advancements notwithstanding.

Unknown said...

you are not Thai so stop pretending you know everything about Thailand. I do hate wannabes. If you were that great, you wouldn't have left Thailand, would you? It looks like you have a lot of time on your hands, why don't you get a job so you won't be a loser anymore?

Unknown said...

Please see more detailed Article by Forbes on King's wealth here:

The $35 billion is misleading, since, as stated clearly in the new Forbes Article, the real estate holdings are worth $31 billion.

Research for 2005, shows the total income of Crown Property Bureau (CPB) at $280 million (adjusted for current exchange rate). In that total, $200 million was from company dividends, and $80 million from the real estate. This is consistent with the recent Bangkokpost citation that most of CPB's land is leased at low-priced, below market rate to state agencies, NGOs, and low-income tenants. It was also stated that only 7% of the land is leased at commercial rates. Paul Handley makes the same comment in the new Forbes Article that the CPB is not charging market rates, and that "raising them would cause serious repercussions, especially for its thousands of low-income tenants."

How much of the annual income generated by the CPB goes to charity is unknown, but I am sure a good share of it does go to charity.

So, don't treat the $35 billion figure as if it was the King's disposable income. It is not. The greater bulk, ie. $31 billion, is real estate, and most of the rest is in share holdings which are invested in the long-term.

The new Forbes Article makes the point that the CPB's goal is: "to aid the country's development by investing in key industries and providing below-market-rate housing for low-income citizens."
I think that arguably makes the $35 billion assets managed by CPB a "source of national pride."

Bryan said...

Answer:Source of pride.

Reason: v basically sums it up.

And tipfy, if you can do better, make your own blog.