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Thaksin: a populist or an all powerful dictator?

Thaksin is often praised for having improved social matters in Thailand, but this is not true. He gave charity to the poorest and least educated.

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Thaksin’s election, which some consider legitimate despite the buying of votes and the “grants” skillfully distributed (1 million THB per village) the day before the second election, would never have been accepted in a genuinely democratic country.

Of course corruption existed prior to Thaksin, but is that a reason for it to continue? Quite evidently Thailand is capable of progressing towards greater democracy, and the present system is in the process of changing towards more modernity as long as the old barons make way for the young. Of course the old guard hangs on and many of them try to make a democratic name for themselves.

Thaksin is often praised for having improved social matters in Thailand, but this is not true. He gave charity to the poorest and least educated. He promoted consumer loans (and not micro-loans for economic investments). Is that called “social”? A flat rate for all of 30 baht per visit to any hospital establishment is debatable. All public hospitals were free;  it was simply to bring the private clinics to charge only 30 baht and for the state to cover the difference.

thaksin shinawatra and reds

Thaksin is often praised for having improved social matters in Thailand, but this is not true. He gave charity to the poorest and least educated.

What else has he done for the people? Nothing. What he has mostly done is take care or his own businesses and abused his position to help make them prosper. During his term the value of “Shin Corp” increased four-fold and when part of it was sold off to this Singapore company “Temasek” and the accounts were rendered public, it was discovered that during Thaksin’s term “Shin Corp” had never paid any taxes.

It took for a judge to convict Thaksin and seize part of his assets before the “reds” started to regroup. On the run abroad to avoid having to serve a 2-year sentence for financial misdeeds in another case, Thaksin declared that there were 1 million red demonstrators. At the very height of the demonstration there were at most twenty thousand and they were being paid 500 baht per marching day. At the end there were no more than 3,000.

The reds’ claims were as legally unjustifiable as they were simple: dissolve the parliament, dismiss the government, Thaksin’s pardon and return to Thailand, general elections (rigged of course) for Thaksin to return to power, and a return to the 1997 constitution (to Thaksin’s advantage).

The UDD’s failed uprising

The movement entitled UDD, “Union for Democracy and against Dictatorship”, misled the world press on the real objective for these political cowboys. Apart from a few very rare exceptions, the media was extremely naïve; had they taken a moment to look into the matter they would have rapidly realized that the UDD’s aim was to accede to power through the rural masses. The real meaning of “UDD” was “Union for Dictatorship and against Democracy”!

With Thaksin on the run, a handful of ambitious political pirates, including some of his earlier lieutenants, stepped in for him in Thailand and press-ganged the reds using entire families as human shields in the event of a military charge.

Just who are these come-what-may nutters encouraging thousands of innocent Thais from the provinces to come to be massacred with the sole goal of acceding to power? They began with brain-washing and emulation did the rest. How could one get the demonstrators on the street to understand that the red leaders’ aim was to take power and create a false republic / real dictatorship, while loud-speakers were pouring out their propaganda on the red “camps” 24 hours a day. Meanwhile, the red elite is busy working on taking over power and pursuing the good old Thai tradition filling ones own.

The latest months events went to their heads, causing them to lose common sense and good measure. To such an extent that even if they won, Thaksin, the initiator and instigator of this wasteful mess, would risk being overthrown by the new leaders of this anti-democratic uprising, now feeling legitimized because of their presence on the ground during the conflict. If victorious, in their thirst for power and money, the red leaders  would be at each others throats.

Prime Minister Abhisit did everything in his power to avoid violence and maintain law and order, but these ignorant extremists failed to take up the offer – which in turn resulted in Veera (one of the red leader’s) to resign because of his acceptance of the gentleman’s agreement. The UDD had exceeding the point-of-no-return by repeatedly upping the stakes on the terms of the national reconciliation that the Prime Minister was proposing. Abhisit then had to withdraw his early election offer…he had conceded more than enough.

Sensing looming defeat, the read leaders resigned, abandoning their flock, but not without briefing them one last time: “1 liter of petrol per person multiplied by 1 million make 1 million liters of petrol…enough to set fire to the whole of Bangkok…” That’s the “political breed” that Thailand narrowly escaped. Luckily, not all of the 3,000 remaining demonstrators followed orders and consequently “only” 37 buildings burnt down that night in Bangkok…Terrorism, nevertheless.

Only Thaksin, on the run, along with his “generals” can bear the moral responsibility for this sacrifice and resulting damage. They should also have to face the penal responsibility facing the Thai courts, but also the International Tribunal in The Hague, in addition to Thaksin’s condemnation for his cleansing (quaintly named “war-on-drugs”). The least of things would be for any future would-be dictators to think twice before launching into such an enterprise.

Denys Tellier

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