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Thai companies contend with govt pressure in big-ticket projects

Officials not shy about leaning on private sector to score political goals

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, center, back row, presides over the signing ceremony for a huge high-speed rail project on Oct. 24.

BANGKOK -- Thai Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul's patience was at its limit. Negotiations over a 224.5 billion baht ($7.43 billion) high-speed railway had dragged on nearly a year past schedule.

In September, he upped the pressure on the group that won the initial bid for the project, an international consortium led by Charoen Pokphand Group, Thailand's largest conglomerate.

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