Thailand’s 50 Richest Less Rich Due to Pandemic, But Still Pretty Rich

Dhanin Chearavanont

BANGKOK — Thailand’s 50’s richest see their wealth dented due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but still maintain much of their money even as millions of Thais are at the risk of unemployment. 

Although some of the wealthiest billionaires saw bits of their coffers dip in Forbes’ list of Thailand’s 50 Richest 2020 released Friday, the vast majority of Thais are in immediate danger of losing both formal and informal jobs. At least 520,000 fresh graduates would be hard-pressed to find a job this year, reports say. 

Topping the Forbes list, yet again, were the Chearavanont brothers of CP Group continue to take the top spot, although their combined net worth dipped $2.2 billion to $27.3 billion. 

Some moguls actually saw their wealth increase: in the number two spot is Chalerm Yoovidhya, the co-owner of Red Bull’s net worth climbed up $300 million to $20.2 billion. (His son, Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, stands accused of killing a policeman in 2012. He has never been brought to trial, and is assumed to be out of Thailand.) 

ThaiBev’s Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi is third with $10.5 billion, a dip from 2019’s $16.2 billion.

Fourth is the Chirathivat clan who owns Central Retail malls and retail, who saw their net worth take a dive from $21 billion in 2019 to $9.5 billion. 

Kumpol Plussind, the founder of the Chularat Hospital chain, also saw his wealth increase to $610 million. He last appeared on Thailand’s Richest List in 2016, with a listed net worth of $565 million. 

Harald Link of B. Grimm is the richest farang on the list at number 12, with a net worth of $2.3 billion, jumping 12 percent. Over the past year B. Grimm Power’s profit jumped 34 percent, Forbes reported. Other energy magnates also climbed up the list, which can be viewed in full here

But even as the ultra-wealthy remain ultra-wealthy, Tanit Sorat, vice-chairman of the Employers’ Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry (EconThai), wrote in a March 27 memo that the coronavirus’ effects on the Thai economy could result in a “historic” level of unemployment.

Tanit said that he expected 6.5 million Thais to be out of a job, including 2.75 million formal workers and 3.2 million informal workers. 

More than 19 million people applied for government cash handouts of 5,000 baht a month on Monday. The program is only eligible for informal workers or self-employed people whose livelihoods are affected by the coronavirus. 

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