“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

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wiking
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“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

Post by wiking » November 8, 2013, 9:43 am

’s time that the Republic of Thaksin became less about one man and more about the aspirations and needs of Thais.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-0 ... drama.html

Thailand’s Big Brother Drama

By William Pesek Nov 7, 2013 11:19 PM GMT+0100

“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin.” You won’t see these words displayed in the customs hall when arriving in Thailand, but the Land of Smiles has indeed morphed into the land of Thaksin Shinawatra.

That should be giving Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy plenty to frown about. Seven years after the former prime minister was ousted in a coup, Thaksin’s long shadow continues to dominate Thai politics. Since then, the country has seen six prime ministers, the most recent one being Thaksin’s baby sister, Yingluck Shinawatra.


William Pesek

Like many loving siblings, Yingluck looks out for her kin. Recently she tried to ram a get-out-of-jail-free card for Thaksin and other politicians through the parliament -- as big a political blunder as Asia has seen in years. Markets plunged and more than 32,000 people joined demonstrations in the capital and 17 other provinces. This week, Yingluck backed down and agreed to scrap the bill for now.

But anyone who thinks that’s the end of Thailand’s Thaksin nightmare is wrong. The proud and acerbic billionaire, Asia’s answer to Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, isn’t about to shelve his obsession with returning home, reclaiming the portion of his telecommunications fortune frozen by the state and succeeding his sister. Many fear Yingluck is little more than a placeholder for big bro.

Thaksin’s Ambitions

With his ambitions thwarted for now, the focus has turned to how much money this setback will cost Thaksin. Thais should be worrying instead about how much this political circus is hurting their $366 billion economy. Every day that politicians and policy makers in Bangkok spend obsessing over Thaksin’s return is one that’s not being used to modernize the economy, increase competiveness and avoid the “middle-income trap” that befalls many developing nations and may soon ensnare Thailand.

The politics of personality aren’t confined to Thailand. Asia is awash with larger-than-life populists bigger on charisma and spin than concrete reforms: leaders like Shinzo Abe in Japan, Xi Jinping in China and, in some ways, Benigno Aquino in the Philippines. The same problem afflicts several figures who have yet take the helm, including India’s Rahul Gandhi. All have neglected tough policy work in hopes that a strong personality will be enough to carry them through and bolster their approval ratings.

But Thaksin raised the strategy to an art form, essentially making an entire nation about him. His tenure from February 2001 to September 2006 saw nothing less than the wholesale bastardization of Thai democracy. He neutered its institutions and enriched his family members and cronies in ways that would have made a Russian oligarch blush.

Like former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, Thaksin was a powerful tycoon who leveraged his business success to become leader. Thaksin, like Berlusconi, was later accused of bending the government to his will and in alignment with his business interests. He got away with it by literally bribing the rural communities that formed his power base. His “Thaksinomics” program of flooding the hinterlands with cheap loans was never more than Tammany Hall-like doling out of cash for support. The money did nothing to improve the economy’s fundamentals or capacity for innovation.

It’s a strategy Yingluck copied early and often after becoming prime minister in 2011. Take her disastrous rice-subsidy plan, which by the latest estimate has cost $19 billion since October 2011 and over time has recorded losses equivalent to 59 percent of that figure.

Distorted Markets

Thailand is now sitting on two years of export production, which has distorted rice markets in the Mekong River region and cost Thailand the title of world’s biggest rice exporter. What’s depressing is that in that time Thailand could have, say, built a new state-of-the-art airport. Instead Suvarnabhumi Airport, opened the same month in 2006 in which Thaksin was ousted, continues to struggle with capacity constraints that are impeding the all-important tourism market.

Why champion such a debacle? The rice program is sure to pay huge dividends for Yingluck, and by extension Thaksin, come early 2014 when her government may call a snap poll. The hope would be for Yingluck’s party to demonstrate enough of a mandate to resurrect the amnesty bill. To do that, they will need the farmers. Hence the linear focus on boosting rice prices.

It’s frustrating to think where Thailand might be today had the nation not squandered the last seven years on all things Thaksin. By overreaching so spectacularly with the amnesty bill, Yingluck displayed a level of cluelessness that will further hobble her ability to govern.

The bill might have gotten further if it had also applied to people charged with lese-majeste, which mandates prison sentences as long as 15 years for defaming or insulting an individual, queen, heir apparent or regent. Instead the bill would have allowed Yingluck’s brother, army officers and former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who faces murder charges for authorizing soldiers to use weapons during unrest in 2010, to walk free -- not average Thais. It left the pro-Thaksin Red Shirts and opponents known as the Yellow Shirts wondering who, or what, they had been fighting for.

It’s time that the Republic of Thaksin became less about one man and more about the aspirations and needs of Thais.



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Aardvark
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“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

Post by Aardvark » November 8, 2013, 1:10 pm

An interesting article, but just one Man's Opinion ....

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“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

Post by marjamlew » November 8, 2013, 1:34 pm

After reading all of that you would think HE is the only Thai to ever indulge in corruption and cronyism. HE and the likes of Suthep Thaugsuban are just the ultimate products of a corrupt and crony based system. Thaksin dies tomorrow and nothing of substance changes. The Thai dilema goes on.
The article is basically an irrelivence.
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“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

Post by jackspratt » November 8, 2013, 1:46 pm

I particularly liked this paragraph form the article:
But Thaksin raised the strategy to an art form, essentially making an entire nation about him. His tenure from February 2001 to September 2006 saw nothing less than the wholesale bastardization of Thai democracy. He neutered its institutions and enriched his family members and cronies in ways that would have made a Russian oligarch blush.
Given that his life has seen substantial change in Thailand - some for the better - I think it is naive to believe his death would not have some impact.

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“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

Post by marjamlew » November 8, 2013, 1:53 pm

OK his death would mean something to a lot of people but I meant it wouldn't effect or change levels of corruption and cronyism which is endemic in the system.
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“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

Post by rufus » November 10, 2013, 8:51 am

Quite a stupid, poorly written article with a lot of innacuracies.

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“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

Post by Asiaphile » March 7, 2014, 10:59 am

Silly me for thinking that corruption in Thailand was a character trait peculiar to Thaksin ... :shock: :^o :-$ ;)
Corruption is 'part of Thai mindset'
Takayuki Kanaboshi
The Nation March 7, 2014 1:00 am
Corruption has become a part of people's mindset here in Thailand, where "cheating" is tolerated, Chalermchai Boonyaleepun, president of Srinakharinwirot University, told a seminar on Wednesday.

In the discussion on combating corruption, National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) member Vicha Mahakun and Sompol Kiatphaibool, chairman of the Stock Exchange of Thailand and vice chairman of the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand, placed their hopes on the media.

They were speaking at the 59th anniversary celebration of the Thai Journalists Association (TJA).

Chalermchai said that according to a survey he conducted on more than 640,000 students, 47.9 per cent said they had copied assignments and only 43 per cent found this "slightly wrong". Upon seeing another student cheating, only 7.2 per cent said they would inform the teacher, while 30.7 per cent would pretend it never happened.
more ...

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“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

Post by vlad » March 7, 2014, 5:29 pm

We all of our views on Thaksin but one thing is for sure when he was prime minister he dealt with the drug dealers, and there was not many that had heard of Ya Bah. Tourist assaults were down the scams that plague Thailand now were none existent. I wonder how he would have dealt with the Tuk Tuk protest or should I say the Mafia that runs the tuk tuks in Phuket.

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“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

Post by jackspratt » March 7, 2014, 5:46 pm

vlad wrote:We all of our views on Thaksin but one thing is for sure when he was prime minister he dealt with the drug dealers, and there was not many that had heard of Ya Bah.
He "dealt" with them by ordering ex-judicial killings ie state sanctioned murder. There were many cases of innocent bystanders also dieing, and numerous reports of the police and major dealers using the crack-down to settle scores, or reclaim territory.

There were no reports of senior figures in the industry being bought to account.

Within a few months everything was back to "normal", and so it continues to this day.
Tourist assaults were down the scams that plague Thailand now were none existent.
Nonsense - do you have a skerrick of evidence to support this?
I wonder how he would have dealt with the Tuk Tuk protest or should I say the Mafia that runs the tuk tuks in Phuket.
No need to wonder - he didn't do anything ie sweet fark all.

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“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 8, 2014, 4:29 am

There have been a number of books about Thaksin, the best is the one co-authored by Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Brown. Here they review some of the books about him:-
The Books of Thaksin
Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker

We have just written a book on prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. For us, it is the
third in a series on Thai economy and politics, all written with similar concerns,
technique, and style. But the media noise, bookshop sales, and overseas interest have
been totally different this time. We could kid ourselves this book is better or we are now
better known. But truly the difference is not us, but him.

Two books on Thaksin in Thai are now into around twenty editions. Chirmsak
Pinthong’s mischievously critical “Keeping up with Thaksin” sold an unprecedented
40,000 copies in a few weeks. Several bookshops have sections dedicated to books on
Thaksin. Some also have another for books recommended by him. While writing our
book, we had to pay regular visits because a new volume seemed to appear each week.
How extraordinary this is needs some comparison. When Chatichai, Chuan and
Banharn were prime minister, there was one book on each. On Prem, Anand, and
Chavalit, there were none at the time and only single volumes have appeared since. All
these books are much the same—reverent studies which do not delve too deep, and have
no strong message. Books their mothers would like to read.

The first serious study on Thaksin appeared in 1993 when he was just tiptoeing into
politics. It was written by a very prominent journalist, Sorakon Adulyanon. Its subtitle,
‘Knight of the Third Wave,’ announced that Thaksin was a new sort of leader and this
was a new kind of book for Thailand. In part, it was like the “how to” books which are
the biggest segment of Thai publishing. Many probably bought it with hopes of
replicating Thaksin’s success. But in part, it was also serious investigative journalism on
Thaksin’s concession deals, and his relations with controversial politicians like Montri
Phongpanich and Chalerm Yubamruang.

The 1999 biography compiled by Walaya (Laddawan Rattanadilokchai) and
subtitled “Eyes on the Stars, Feet on the Ground,” was commissioned as part of the
campaign to make Thaksin better known and more electable. Like Sorakon’s, this book
can also be read as a “how to” guide to business and political success. It is also a brilliant
piece of political myth-making. While in reality Thaksin was born with a whole set of
silver spoons in his mouth, the story presents him as a poor lad from the backwoods who
makes good by hard work and entrepreneurial daring. The theme of a Chinese migrant
who arrives with “one pillow and one mat” and makes a fortune has become the defining
legend of modern urban Thailand, retold countless times in business biographies, novels
and TV dramas. Walaya deftly cast Thaksin in the part. This tehming was so successful it
was used in Thaksin’s 2000–1 election campaign to explain why a multi-millionaire
claimed empathy with the masses.

Most Thaksin books flooding the market recently are much simpler creations.
Thaksin himself generates a lot of words—in his speeches, weekly radio addresses, and
near-monopolisation of political statement in the electronic media. Editors scavenge these
words from the Internet, cut and paste them into some themed sequence, and add a catchy
title like “Leader of Asia” or “How to Speak Like Thaksin.” Publishing houses believe Thaksin’s name can sell books and make them money.

The few critical and analytical studies (like Chirmsak’s) are collections of essays
which achieve breadth rather than depth and coherence. One exception was a kind of
“guerilla book” entitled “How Rich is Thaksin Really?” The cover and title page are so
muddled it is not clear who is the author or publisher; there is no sign the publication was
registered; and the book appeared briefly in a modest pile beside the check-out and then
vanished. But it is a serious attempt to analyse the Shinawatra family’s businesses using
stockmarket data and press reports. It does not quite answer the question of its own title,
but at least makes a stab at it.

So why this unprecedented level of literary fascination with a Thai politician? The
interest from outside the country is understandable. The politics of lesser known
countries are easier to grasp through a single figure, especially if that person is rather
authoritarian and hence a dominating influence. In the past, foreign journalists and “Asia
experts” found it much easier to write about Suharto, Mahathir, Lee, or Marcos than to
unravel Thailand’s struggles to establish democracy. The focus on such leaders also
confirms an orientalist view that Asia is run by a bunch of corrupt autocrats. With
Thaksin, Thailand has become easier for foreign analysts to “read.”
The fascination inside the country is more complex. Thaksin has cast himself as an
agent of change. Both those who are hopeful about what he will achieve, and those who
are fearful, are anxious to know what he thinks. More broadly, Thaksin is the first Thai
premier who has grasped the opportunities and techniques of the media age. His weekly
radio chats, and his often spontaneous and unguarded responses to journalists’ probing,
have given ordinary people a view into the previously dark world of Thai politics. His
relationship with the mass of the people seems cool and calculated (with both sides
asking “what’s in it for me”) rather than loving and warm. Yet it is undoubtedly a new
kind of relationship in Thai political life.

On an even broader scale, the fascination with Thaksin is simply part of the
international cult of celebrity. Nowadays, we seem overwhelmed by great powers,
massive corporations, and big finance. As we lose faith in the capacity of the individual
or community—and hence in the ideal of democracy—we put our hope in “stars” who
can transport us into the realm of fantasy, or “strong leaders” who can turn the real world
upside down. This is rather dangerous.

Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker, Thaksin: The Business of Politics in Thailand,
is published by Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai.
http://pioneer.netserv.chula.ac.th/~ppa ... haksin.pdf
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“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

Post by dazzz » March 8, 2014, 10:05 am

marjamlew wrote:After reading all of that you would think HE is the only Thai to ever indulge in corruption and cronyism. HE and the likes of Suthep Thaugsuban are just the ultimate products of a corrupt and crony based system. Thaksin dies tomorrow and nothing of substance changes. The Thai dilema goes on.
The article is basically an irrelivence.
Quite correct. For people to continuously condemn and criticise Thaksin as if he is the only corrupt Thai is a bit silly. He was a millionaire before he became prime minister and while he stole money from thailand , all thai politicians would do the same but he was just better at it than most which does not make him a worse person than the politician who steals less money.
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“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

Post by Earnest » March 8, 2014, 4:30 pm

wiking wrote:Thailand’s Big Brother Drama

By William Pesek Nov 7, 2013 11:19 PM GMT+0100
Good find, Wiking.

I think the piece is one-sided and seeks to blame Thailand's last 8 years of woes on Mr. T's dynasty alone. A surprisingly myopic article considering it came from a Bloomberg columnist.
กรรม

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“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 9, 2014, 2:03 am

vlad wrote:We all of our views on Thaksin but one thing is for sure when he was prime minister he dealt with the drug dealers, and there was not many that had heard of Ya Bah.
You can rest a bit easier today, Vlad, for at least 6 drug dealers have bit the dust.

http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/709 ... -thailand/
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“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

Post by GT93 » March 9, 2014, 2:33 am

Yep that's Vlad's Red Shirt police and soldiers up in Chiang Rai doing the business by taking out 6 drug mules. I've crossed off my must do list Chiang Rai jungle treks. Too dangerous with Thaksin policing solutions going on up there.

I gather Vlad would like these gentlemen down in Phuket sorting out the tuk tuk drivers. I doubt that's going to happen and the tuk tuk drivers can also rest easy.

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“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » March 9, 2014, 2:45 am

555+
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“Welcome to the Republic of Thaksin

Post by FrazeeDK » March 9, 2014, 8:03 am

suspected dead drug mules... The "Musers".... All the mighty capabilities of the Thai military and they can't track back these drug mules to their den in Wa Burma??? Maybe Admiral Winai should send some of his counter-narcotics SEALs up to the Burmese border (or into Burma) rather than doing counter narcotics work at PRDC rallies..
Dave

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