Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, October 30, 2008; Page A19
BANGKOK, Oct. 29 — Thai Beverages, the brewer of Thailand’s best-selling Chang Beer, has found itself straddling the uncomfortable point where markets and morals collide.
ThaiBev is trying to get a listing on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) — its second attempt in three years — but as happened the first time around, it is running into heavy opposition from campaigners who argue that such a listing would encourage alcohol consumption.
Opponents of the listing handed a letter of protest to the Finance Ministry on Wednesday, and about 100 demonstrators held a rally outside the stock exchange Monday, some of them carrying signs of opposition.
Demonstrators say that if the company is listed, it would be in the interest of shareholders to encourage alcohol consumption, something that goes against the Buddhist principles of many Thai people.
But the volume of protest against the listing is substantially quieter than in 2005, when ThaiBev last attempted to get into the exchange. Mass protests forced it to withdraw its application, although subsequently it listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange.