Thailand in the News Week Ending 02/27/10

Thaksin, Thaksin, Thaksin…

Thaksin Shinawatra

This was most probably the most boring week in Thailand news since the coup back in 2006. Everyone had Thaksin and the Supreme Courts verdict on their mind, and everyone wrote about it as well. As I suspected when I wrote last weeks news wrap up, the Courts only took a portion of Thaksins frozen assets, a little more than half, and all parties involved saw it as a win for their team. Thaksin, of course, is showing some protest to the verdict but only enough to help draw attention to himself and his cause…returning to Thailand.

Even if they would have taken all of Thaksin’s frozen assets it wouldn’t have come close to putting a dent in his actual worth. You can bet he has accounts all over the world in countries that have no problem hiding his assets for a small price. What was taken in Fridays verdict was only a fraction of Thaksin’s actual worth.

Now the real game begins for all involved. Thaksin has been biding his time through a court case where he was tried, convicted and sentenced to two years in jail, through a divorce from his long time wife , to limit her exposure, and now through the asset seizure that has been in the courts for over a year. What is the next step for Thaksin?

Now that these minor annoyances are out of his way you can bet Thaksin will be concentrating on the one thing that stands in his way of holding a political seat in Thailand again, the two year jail sentence handed down some time ago. Thaksin is smart, he has leveraged neighboring Cambodia to be closer to his beloved red shirts and by doing so he has reinvigorated the red shirt movement and made sure he has a base to operate from in case things don’t work through diplomatic channels concerning his return to Thailand.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you’ll not only see Thaksin return to Thailand but you will see him hold political office again as well. With all other matters settled that jail term is the only thing standing in Thaksin’s way, but not for long. There won’t be a coup attempt for the same reason there was no violence on Friday when the verdict was read, because Thaksin is smart and he knows that any violence will leave him with a stain he won’t be able to wash off.

No, Thaksin is smart and he has a lot of money at his disposal. Look for him to start making diplomatic inroads to the courts and prosecutors soon. It’s nothing for a politician of any country to make a sweetheart deal after they have been convicted. Not long ago the Mayor of my city was charged, tried, and convicted of embezzlement. Instead of appealing the case she made a deal where she would see no jail time, she would make restitution,  and the kicker? She would receive her pension for the rest of her life. You can look for the same with Thaksin and sooner rather than later.

Within the next two years (give or take a day) you will bear witness to Thaksin’s triumphant return to Thailand. He will most probably do little to no actual jail time at all ( he may even appeal the case, and win), he will pay a hefty fine and he will most likely be barred from politics for a short period of time…at least until he can manipulate the right persons to pardon him.

Thaksin has played the culture of Thailand like a fine violin. He knows what the government fears and he is the puppet master in this show of saving face and heading off violence. Thaksin has proven again and again that the current sitting government in Thailand is toothless and weak when it comes to dealing with him and you can bet he will use this soft white underbelly to worm his way back into the political heart of the country.


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10 Responses to Thailand in the News Week Ending 02/27/10
  1. vange
    February 28, 2010 | 3:00 am

    Did you know Blue Oyster Cult was originally called Soft White Underbelly?

    • Talen
      February 28, 2010 | 2:59 pm

      Yes I did…did you know that Patti Smith co wrote on several of their earliest songs?

  2. Joe
    February 28, 2010 | 6:25 am

    very insightful sir.

  3. Catherine
    February 28, 2010 | 1:15 pm

    I agree, this has been a boring week. No bloodshed. No Red Shirts blocking off Victory Monument with the army facing them down.

    This week has been just another slow nail in the Thaksin saga…

    And agreed, your predictions might be spot on (only time will tell – that old chestnut).

    But in a way I’m of the, ‘I don’t have a horse in this race’ mindset. I do live here, but I will never belong to the country as a citizen.

    Not only that, I enjoy history, but I dislike the day to day of politics. Because it’s been so bizarre, Thailand has caught my interest more than others. But it’s still a bother at times.

    I wish they’d just get on and get it over with. I’m bored with it after six years, surely Thais are fed up by now?

    Sort of disclaimer – sometimes I’m not bored with the politics but today I am especially. So maybe my feeling pissy has something to do with my comments. Dunno.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Thai 101 Learners Series: A Trusted Native Speaker is Essential =-.

    • Talen
      February 28, 2010 | 2:48 pm

      Cat, at least there was a good side in the boring news of the week…no violence.

      Things are constantly changing so like you said time will tell and we will have to wait and see.

      • Catherine
        March 1, 2010 | 3:36 pm

        Talen, patience is not one of my finer qualities ;-)

        And goodness knows you’ve been as patient as any I’ve known! I’m impressed. Greatly.

        By this time, there wouldn’t be anything breakable left within reach.

        (kidding – I’m not that bad – just throwing kudos your way)
        .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Linguistic and Developmental Underpinnings of Language Acquisition =-.

  4. Mike
    February 28, 2010 | 1:19 pm

    Talen, an interesting prediction on your part. Not so sure myself. Although who knows he could return and face the music. Perhaps he can cut a deal now the assets thing is done?
    I did read somewhere that there are other outstanding charges too regarding money/fraud.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Wat Tan Jet Yot (????????????? )Prachuap Khiri Khan =-.

  5. Talen
    February 28, 2010 | 2:51 pm

    Mike, I think the major charges have already been settled but there may be some ancillary charges relating to his business dealings.

    I may be completely wrong and with the nature of Thai politics constantly changing who knows what will happen next. I just have a gut feeling Thaksin is inherently entwined with Thai politics and will be back in power in some capacity.

  6. Martyn
    March 2, 2010 | 6:14 pm

    Talen a brilliant summing up of the assets saga and written with an excellent hand. I think you excel when penning these political type posts.

    Thaksin is the puppet master and I’m sure in truth he’ll be happy with the outcome in that his manipulation of his red shirts left the Supreme Court with no choice but to hand a fair share of the pot back to him. Effectively they have given the logistical support the red shirts need.

    The Puea Thai Party’s near certain next election victory will ease the way for Thaksin’s return to Thailand and eventually politics itself, then the two coloured carousel will start to spin even faster again.
    .-= Martyn´s last blog ..Tick Tock =-.

    • Talen
      March 3, 2010 | 2:32 am

      Martyn, Thanks for the kind words.

      I have a feeling it’s going to be a very interesting year in Thai politics…