The Story of Thaksin Shinawatra

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Milord
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The Story of Thaksin Shinawatra

Post by Milord » Fri Jun 13, 2014 6:35 pm

I thought this an interesting read.

The Story of Thaksin Shinawatra
Richard Lloyd Parry

The man who came closest to persuading me of the virtue of toppling a democratically elected government was a former investment banker and English public schoolboy called Korn Chatikavanij. All the foreign journalists in Bangkok know Korn, and a conversation with him is one of the pleasures of any reporting trip to Thailand. You meet him in the lobby of one of the big hotels, or in his office above a coffee bar – a tall, self-deprecatingly dashing figure with high cheekbones and exquisite shirts. He is brilliant, charming and droll, and his presence works like air-conditioning on the perspiration and stench of Thai politics. Over the course of an hour with Korn, it resolves into the clarity of a well-turned op-ed, a tutorial with a bright young don, a conversation at a metropolitan dinner party. Then you step outside, and it is all blood-heat and anguish again.

Korn went to Winchester, then to St John’s College, Oxford, then to S.G. Warburg and J.P. Morgan. His great friend and confrère Abhisit Vejjajiva, the leader of Thailand’s Democrat Party, was at Eton (where he was known to contemporaries such as Boris Johnson as Mark Vejj), then at St John’s with Korn. A former Democrat MP from a younger generation, Akanat Promphan, now spokesman for the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee, was educated at Charterhouse and Oxford. The first time I met Akanat was at a vast government office complex in central Bangkok which had recently been taken over and occupied by protesters intent on driving the elected prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, from office. I had just come from a very different scene on the other side of Bangkok, a sweaty open-air stadium filled with Yingluck’s supporters in the pro-government Red Shirt movement, many of them country people from the north of Thailand. But Akanat and I drank cappuccinos among a visibly more affluent crowd. Some of them stood outside in the sun, listening to speeches of ear-dunning volume from a battery of amplifiers. Many of them curled up in the air-conditioned atrium beneath the immigration department, passing the time on tablets and smartphones.

Thailand’s political crisis is a sorry tale of bad losers and a broken political system. But it is also an old-fashioned, 20th-century-style class war. Above all, it concerns one of the great dilemmas of democracies: what to do about unacceptable politicians who, for all their obvious iniquities, are elected fair and square. Which is to say that it is the story of Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin became prime minister in 2001, after making a billion in telecoms, and early on distinguished himself with the kind of policies that could have been designed to alienate Western governments and liberal public opinion. In southern Thailand, he launched a brutal campaign against Islamic insurgents which left scores of innocent people dead. In his version of the war on drugs, the police were permitted to shoot anyone whom they suspected of being a dealer. He bullied his critics in the media, and deployed his wealth to political and personal advantage. (In 2008, in a verdict that may or may not have been political in nature, he and his wife were convicted in absentia of a multi-million-pound property cheat.) He was cheerfully unabashed about diverting government largess towards regions that voted for him, and depriving those that didn’t. ‘Democracy is a good and beautiful thing,’ he once said, ‘but it’s not the ultimate goal as far as administering the country is concerned. Democracy is just a tool … The goal is to give people a good lifestyle, happiness and national progress.’

‘Democracy, but …’ has been the unvoiced slogan of postwar authoritarians across South-East Asia, and it has generally been tolerated so long as happiness and progress are indeed delivered. Like earlier leaders in Singapore and Malaysia, although in double quick time, Thaksin changed the lives of millions of Thais for the better. Unlike them, he was not merely feared and respected for his efforts, but adored.
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StroppyChops
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Re: The Story of Thaksin Shinawatra

Post by StroppyChops » Fri Jun 13, 2014 7:03 pm

"...what to do about unacceptable politicians who, for all their obvious iniquities, are elected fair and square.' Indeed. And then any rhetoric of democracy suddenly becomes an awkward burden to be reshaped and redirected into, "Oh, this is not what we meant by democracy, we're reverting to the state in which We know best for the peons".
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Milord
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Re: The Story of Thaksin Shinawatra

Post by Milord » Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:41 pm

Some would argue that democracy was never implemented beyond a "sound bite".

People should know their place in the social order and not get all uppity.

Absolutely shocking that "those" people in the Majority would expect to be represented. :shock:
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Re: The Story of Thaksin Shinawatra

Post by sigmoid » Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:33 pm

Richard Milhous Nixon was elected, twice even.

Maybe we should bring HIM back?
Milord
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Re: The Story of Thaksin Shinawatra

Post by Milord » Sat Jun 14, 2014 12:23 am

I think Nixon was the last time we made them accountable. Shame really.
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Re: The Story of Thaksin Shinawatra

Post by Cowshed Cowboy » Sat Jun 14, 2014 1:56 am

Who is Richard Lloyd Parry and does he get paid for that . I'm pretty sure he deserves a front page article on another forum.
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Re: The Story of Thaksin Shinawatra

Post by FreeSocrates! » Mon Jun 16, 2014 5:03 pm

Judging by the quality of the writing, they probably couldn't afford him.
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Re: The Story of Thaksin Shinawatra

Post by ali baba » Mon Jun 16, 2014 11:02 pm

Great article. And thankyou StroppyChops for directing me to it.
StroppyChops wrote:"...what to do about unacceptable politicians who, for all their obvious iniquities, are elected fair and square.' Indeed. And then any rhetoric of democracy suddenly becomes an awkward burden to be reshaped and redirected into, "Oh, this is not what we meant by democracy, we're reverting to the state in which We know best for the peons".
Write a constitution so ridiculous that you can arrest the prime minister for appearing on a cookery programme, obviously.
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StroppyChops
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Re: The Story of Thaksin Shinawatra

Post by StroppyChops » Mon Jun 16, 2014 11:23 pm

ali baba wrote:Write a constitution so ridiculous that you can arrest the prime minister for appearing on a cookery programme, obviously.
Well, clearly! Duh! :D
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