Showing posts with label Thailand politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thailand politics. Show all posts

Friday, May 21, 2010


WE all know that the democratic set up for the governance of a country too has its own defects and it survives despite its short comings because it is the only best available choice.

Unfortunately the smiling nation Thailand has become an example of it. It is actually searching for a better setup for its governance than what democracy could offer it.

The supreme Head of Thailand is its king and the day today administration is done by Parliament, Prime Minister and other ministers just like the United Kingdom. It is also to be mentioned here that in Thailand every one have high regard and respect for the king and his word would almost stop any dispute. Presently the Monarch is aged and ailing and not in a position to intervene .

Thailand became a country of demonstrations ever since its erstwhile P.M. Thaksin Sinawatra had to go in exile following a military take over. The red-shirted protesters in thousands are followers of Thaksin. They demand an early election in which they are sure Thaksin would win with a thumping majority and for the same reason election is not what the present P.M,Abhijit vejjajiva ( chosen unusually by the elected members ) want to conduct.

The Majority of the people of Thailand want ex P.M. Thaksin back and another sizable portion of the population do not want him to be the P.M. again. That is why I said that a better system of Governance has to emerge there to quell the unrest.

To get a better picture of the situation let us come back to the ex P.M.Thaksin who also was the biggest industrialist in the country. An interesting thing about Thaksin Shinawatra, (born in 1949) is that he started his life neither as a politician nor as an entrepreneur. He began his career as a police officer. In the year 1973 the destiny presented him a scholarship to study criminal justice in the U.S. It was a turning point in his life.

He returned from the states full of business ideas and ambitions. He concentrated on business opportunities and started a telecommunication venture. He was intelligent and clever. The business grew to hold the unknowing territories and by the time he entered politics he was number one industrialist in the country and also the richest man.

In politics he concentrated on the poorer sections of society and became a champion of the poor and downtrodden. He literally gave them money and extended individual helps where needed.. It was a wise decision on his part to help the poor and needy. He formed a political party named “ Thai rak Thai “ meaning Thais love Thais.

In the 2001 election Thaksin’s party won the election and he became the P.M In fact as a Prime Minister he fared well. He introduced many welfare programs for the poor. As for the elite class and urban community they liked his corporate style administration .He cleverly satisfied both sections of society.

His crack down on the drug traffickers and on the Muslim community upsurge in the South were not received well. Yet by and large it was a good administration.

But January 23 rd of 2006 was to change all these.

Thailand’s biggest, Shin Corporation, was owned by the Shinawatra family and Thaksin Shinwatra ,the P.M.,was often accused of his dual role as head of biggest corporation and Head of the Government. It might be the single important reason or one of several other reasons, Thaksin decided to sell the company  On 23 rd Jan. 2006 Thaksin sold 49 % of the shares of the company to the two nominees of Temasek Holdings. a Singapore company with Singapore Govt. stakes in it. The Shinawatra family nearly netted 2 billion Dollars in the transaction.

But all hell broke loose against Thaksin, the P.M. The urban, industrial, and elite class vehemently opposed the deal. Their anger against Thaksin was on two points, mainly.

1. Until then foreign companies were allowed to hold only 25 % of shares in any Thai company. To facilitate the deal Thaksin raised the level to 49 %.

2 Thaksin sold one of the biggest Thai company to a foreign country without any regard of nationalistic pride.

Those were serious charges for a Prime Minister for which the Urban elite class ( the yellow shirts ) have not forgiven him to this day in that Buddhist country.

The yellow shirts began protests and demonstrations on a daily basis and Thaksin declared a general election in which his party got the majority as the poorer sections stood with him. He was eventually overthrown by the Military. Thaksin went out of the country in exile.

Thaksin is now in exile. His assets in Thailand were frozen. He had to sell his stake in English Prmier League, Manchester, to raise money. Having got divorced he is presently exploring some business in Dubai.

Although Thaksin is in Dubai or in some other country his spirit is everywhere in Thailand. The politics revolves round him there. His supporters ( Red shirts) parade in the streets of Bangkok . The Govt. is unable to conduct its normal business. An election cannot be declared lest Thaksin’s party should get majority.

The system of Democracy can support only the majority. In the case of Thailand there are some peculiarities. The supporters of a particular ideal wear set colored shirts and no Trojan Horses have been reportedly found among them. The other thing is, the minorities never relent or are never in the mood to forgive and forget. These traits are what complicate the situation in Thailand.

Unless a compromise formulae between the red shirts and yellow shirts could be evolved soon in the highest Buddhist tradition, Thailand cannot win back its smile for some more time.

Images: Google.