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"A penny for your thoughts"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thaksin returns to face charges today

Updated 05-Mar-08
Click here for Thaksin Shinawatra education background

Ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra told The Financial Times in its Tuesday, March 4, 2008 edition that he would not accept the role of economic advisor as proposed to him by Dr Surapong Suebwonglee, the finance minister.

He said he is optimistic that Thailand would be able to ride out of the US slowdown, and that the strong baht should provide opportunities for Thai industries to import machinery equipment and capital goods to upgrade their manufacturing operations.

Thailand's military coup and the ensuing political uncertainty have done serious damage to the country's image, Thaksin Shinawatra, its former prime minister, claimed on Monday in his first interview since his emotional homecoming last week.

Financial Times interview transcript: Thaksin Shinawatra Published: March 3 2008 21:35 | Last updated: March 3 2008 21:35

Thaksin Shinawatra being offered as an economic counsel for the present government. However, according to Mr. Thaksin's legal adviser earlier, his colleagues will look into the law to determine if the deposed prime minister could legally assume the post of economic adviser to help a PPP administration work out quick solutions to the country's economic woes.Mr. Thaksin was among 111 executives of the former ruling Thai Rak Thai party banned from politics for five years, after the party was disbanded earlier 2007 for being found guilty of electoral fraud charges. This contradicts his declaration to reporters he was returning as an ordinary citizen and did not plan to go back into politics. Although Thaksin has publicly vowed "never, ever" to return to politics, he has already played a critical role in ensuring Samak's victory in elections held in December 2007. It is widely believed that he will be the shadow Prime Minister!!

Ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was granted bail bail of $267,000. on corruption charges on Thursday, February 28, 2008, but ordered not to leave Thailand without court permission, the Supreme Court said in a statement.

Shortly after landing, Thaksin, 59-year-old surrendered to police before being swept through the airport terminal and kissing the ground in front of thousands of supporters and the media. During his journey home from Hong Kong, Thaksin protested his innocence but also struck a conciliatory note, suggesting he might not embark immediately on a campaign of vengeance against the generals who booted him from office.

"When the game is over, we must come together and settle our differences, forgive everything and help each other push the country forward," he told reporters on the plane, a celebratory glass of champagne in his hands.

"I can prove my innocence. The allegations are empty."

It was the support for Thaksin in the countryside and among urban workers that carried the People Power Party led by Samak Sundaravej to near an overall majority in December. Voters expect and want Thaksin to be the man making decisions.

Even though his return appears to have been negotiated carefully, it represents a defeat, possibly temporary, for the military and royalist establishment who sought to erase Thaksin from the political map.

The first hearing in the trial was set for March 12. After leaving the court, police escorted him to the Attorney General's Office to hear separate charges of making fraudulent filings to securities regulators in the listing of a property company in 2003.

Thaksin was also set to seek bail in that case.

Chamlong Srimuang, a former Bangkok governor, said Thaksin's pledge to stay out of politics was a "political game", and that he had continued playing an important role in Thai politics while in exile.

"Thaksin will plunge the country into a greater crisis that people will not be able to tolerate any longer," the one-time Thaksin ally said.

Thaksin's opponents have also threatened to mobilise protesters and stage demonstrations if the new government tries to intervene in the legal process against him.

On Wednesday, the country's newly-elected prime minister, Samak Sundaravej, who heads the PPP which is regarded as Thaksin's proxy, said he was happy to welcome the former premier back and gave assurances that he would be given a fair trial.

28-Feb-2008 08:35 hrs GMT + 8 hours
Former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra nicknamed Na Liam or Square Face in Thailand ending his self-imposed exile since he was ousted in a military coup 17 months ago, returns later in the morning to Bangkok for the first time since he was toppled in a coup 17 months ago.He boards a plane at Hong Kong airport this morning to the Thai capital.
As soon as he clears immigration, police have said they will escort him to the Supreme Court to hear charges from a corruption case accusing him of using his influence to win a property deal for his wife in 2003. He would then be escorted to the justice ministry's special investigations unit to hear charges over alleged fraudulent filings to securities regulators in 2003.He told reporters he was returning as an ordinary citizen and did not plan to go back into politics.

Mr Thaksin's party, Thai Rak Thai, was outlawed following the coup and he was personally banned from politics for five years.But many of his followers went on the form the People Power Party (PPP), which won elections in December last year. Current Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said he welcomed his former ally's return & has returned his diplomatic passport.

The legal cases were brought by the military regime who toppled him.The coup was welcomed by Bangkok's middle classes, who led months of street protests against Thaksin in early 2006 accusing him of corruption and abuse of power.But the military government left many coup supporters disillusioned as the generals mishandled the economy and failed to win convictions on the charges against Thaksin.Even with Samak as prime minister and close Thaksin allies at the highest levels of government, analysts say the court cases still pose a threat."The legal challenges are serious," said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political analyst at Chulalongkorn University."He's taking a gamble here," he said, although "it's much less (of a) risky gamble than before the election."The People's Alliance for Democracy, which spearheaded earlier anti-Thaksin protests, has vowed to take to the streets against any perceived interference with the courts.But its links with the unpopular military regime have weakened its support, and Thitinan said they may struggle to gather a large following so soon after an election seen as reaffirming Thaksin's popularity."This is a different ball game. Thaksin has the upper hand," he said.

Thaksin Shinawatra... a fit and proper person?
By PETER FERGUSON on 22nd June 2007

Such as?

Such as when the Shinawatra family and his in-laws, the Damapongs, sold their Shin Corp — Thaksin's mobile phone empire — to Singapore's Temasek Holdings in January 2003 for around £950million and paid not a penny in tax on the deal.
That must have gone down well, then?

The middle class was livid. Thaksin pointed to regulations that allowed individuals to sell shares on the Thai stock exchange and pay no capital gains tax. An investigation was launched by the securities and exchange commission and, although his son Panthongtae was fined £78,000 for irregularities, Thaksin and his daughter Pinthongta were cleared of any wrongdoing. All done and dusted within a month.

Is that it?

Not quite. Thaksin also came under investigation earlier this year over the purchase of four plots of land worth millions when he was Prime Minister in 2003, but the Bank of Thailand, rather than Thaksin, was in charge of the selling agency who insisted the price was greater than its appraised value.

Sounds like somebody had it in for him.

He's made many enemies since switching from a high-ranking police job to politics, founding his own Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party and being swept into office on populist policies in 2001. The poor love him and would have him back tomorrow. The rest? Well, he's survived bomb attacks and many cheered the military coup that deposed him last September. He is accused of human rights violations and opponents have likened him to Hitler, Saddam and Pol Pot.

Bit strong that, surely?

When he declared war on the drug methamphetamine (crystal meth), around 3,000 people died during the 'zero tolerance' three-month clean-up operation. Critics claimed death squads were operating. They also point to 84 Muslim deaths at a mosque in the south of Thailand when the army quelled an uprising. But despite the accusations he still commands huge support outside Bangkok?

Yes. The son of a wealthy Chiang Mai merchant, he's always portrayed himself as a man of the people, recounting how he worked at Burger King and delivered earlymorning newspapers while studying at Houston, Texas, on his way up the police ladder. Thaksin's policies on issues such as public health, education, energy and international relations made him the first elected Prime Minister in Thai history to complete his term in office and he was comfortably re-elected in 2005. He is said to have halved poverty in five years and also provided affordable health care for the majority. His main support base was the rural poor. So why didn't everybody embrace Thailand's only elected Prime Minister to serve a full term?

His government was beset by continual allegations of corruption, treason, human rights abuses and muzzling of the free press. His opponents branded Thaksin a dictator lining his own pockets. He was also accused of selling domestic assets to international investors when he cashed in on Shin Corp.

Where does he stand now?

His diplomatic passport was revoked, Thai embassies ordered not to facilitate his travels and reporting his activities abroad was banned or censored. His £1.3bn assets in Thailand are frozen and he has been ordered to return from London to face charges. His supporters argue this is aimed at alienating his vast rural support and interfering with his Manchester City takeover — a big plus in the eyes of many football-mad Thais. VIA

Related Post:-
Thaksin inciting street battles with an arrest warrant

8/7/08 Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra 's wife convicted

7/8/08 Thaksin goes on trial for corruption

3/10/08 Ex-PM Thaksin faces new Thailand graft charges

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