BANGKOK — A key economist at the country’s largest think tank died Thursday at 54.
Deunden Nikomborirak, a research director for economic governance at the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), was killed by a falling tree Thursday morning while jogging in front of her house in Ekkamai.
She was severely injured before declared dead at a hospital. The police said no signs of foul play were found, and said that the palm tree was brittle before falling on Deunden.
“Her passing is a tremendous loss for the institute, but her works and spirit will be forever preserved as a foundation for future research on national development,” reads the TDRI statement announced Friday.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand also called off a panel discussion scheduled for Nov. 6 which Deunden is invited to talk about the economics of uncertainty.
Deunden published numerous academic papers on economic regulatory policies, corruption, and trade in Thailand. Her research is well-respected among the economist community and many are commissioned by international organizations such as the World Bank, the European Union, and the Asian Development Bank.
One of her most prominent works is a study on the political manipulation of Thai media, where she concluded that the Thai state can interfere with the press with legal means, using media concessions, and buying ads.
She expressed concerns in her research that the state was using too much money – more than seven billion baht a year – for advertorials and suggested there should be a law to regulate government’s spending on public relations.
Deunden held a PhD in economics from McGill University and a master’s degree from Queen’s University in Canada.
She took up the position since 2008 after working at the TDRI for 30 years. Her funeral is scheduled for Nov. 2 at Wat That Thong.