Two Useful Links

Sunday’s Guardian has a useful profile of Thaksin and the controversy surrounding his takeover that touches on some of the issues being discussed in detail on this blog, written by Tim Lewis. Lewis describes Thaksin”s arrival as presenting a “Faustian Bargain” for City supporters, but also discusses some of the reasons why Thaksin was (is?) such a popular politician at home.

Also well worth a read is this article from 3 July 2007 in the Asian Sentinel, which provides a useful “scorecard” of Thaksin’s pros and cons as prime minister of Thailand. It’s another solid introduction to the politics and economics of Thaksin’s tenure.

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5 Comments on “Two Useful Links”

  1. Bangkokblue Says:

    I recognize that the Asian Sentinel article is focused largely on the implications of ‘Thaksinomics’ on the Thai economy during the Thai Rak Thai regime, and I found the article to be balanced and helpful.

    I do not however recognize Tim Lewis’s Guardian article as a ‘useful profile’ of Shinawatra. The article fails to mention Thaksin’s handling of the insurgency in the South (and the ensuing escalation of violence in the region), and implies that economic growth during the Thaksin era was entirely due to Thai Rak Thai policies, which the “Asian sentinel’ article effectively debunks.

    The claim that “Even the claims from human-rights organizations regarding his violent treatment of drug traffickers have not been officially sanctioned” is an ugly nonsense. Given the fact that the military and Police top brass are the main constituents of the current government is it not entirely surprising that is little ethusiam for the investigation of their own rank and file, who are the prime candidates for the extra-judicial murders committed at Thaksin’s behest?

    Furthermore to claim that the extra-judicial killings were committed against ‘drug traffickers’, and in the same breath imply that allegations against Thaksin’s involvement in the killings are unproven is a very poorly considered sttatement indeed . Several of those killed were children (including a 16 month old baby), and by the very nature of “extra-judicial killings” none of the people killed were proven guilty of any crime for which they had not previously suffered punishment through due legal process.

  2. thadw Says:

    Lewis does seem to have missed the the Thai gov’t has in fact opened an official investigation into the “war on drugs,” and that the king nearly four years ago called for looking into the extra-judicial kilings. As I was reading it, I did wonder “officially sanctioned” by who exactly?


  3. “The article fails to mention Thaksin’s handling of the insurgency in the South (and the ensuing escalation of violence in the region), and implies that economic growth during the Thaksin era was entirely due to Thai Rak Thai policies, which the “Asian sentinel’ article effectively debunks.”

    It also failed to mention the daily death toll in the South has doubled (from 2 to 4) since the military coup.

    The only mention in the Guardian on Thaksin’s economic policy was this single sentence “[h]is economic policies (‘Thaksinomics’) are credited with drastically reducing poverty in five years.” It doesn’t say ‘economic growth’ was ‘entirely due’ to TRT policies at all. If anything the Guardian’s one-line is consistent with the Asia Sentinel piece of using the word “credited” which stated:

    “We have to give credit to Thaksin’s policy because it inserted a lot of money into low-income farmers and workers, which reduced poverty,” said Somchai Jitsuchon, research director at TDRI who now serves as an advisor to the Finance Ministry

    Thad: Welcome to blogging.

  4. Bangkokblue Says:

    I don’t dispute that the death toll in the south may well have risen since the coup, but I fail to see how the incompetence of the CNS in any way demonstrates that Thaksin’s handling of the insurgency issue was anything other than disastrous. Was it not Thaksin that “let the genie out of the bottle” in the first place with his heavy handed approach to the would-be separatists? Perhaps you consider that Thaksin’s declaration that 78 Muslim protestors had suffocate to death because they were fasting for Ramadan was helpful? Or perhaps we really should all really be making little paper birds to throw at southerners to ensure a peaceful resolution to the crisis?

    From Tim Lewis’s article- “The fact is that Thaksin’s tenure as Prime Minister of Thailand was one of the most prosperous in the country’s history and he still casts a long shadow over a nation where democracy is yet to be restored.” Perhaps I’m missing something here but isn’t the point Mr. Lewis is attempting to make that, Thaksin’s leadership was responsible for Thailand’s period of prosperity yet he is still unpopular with many Thais?

    I do not dispute that several of Thaksin’s rather gimmicky policies did help the rural poor in parts of Thailand to a degree, but did he not also avoid personal taxation for a very large sum of money following the sale of Shin corp.? How many new schools, hospitals, etc could have been built using this money alone?


  5. “Was it not Thaksin that “let the genie out of the bottle” in the first place with his heavy handed approach to the would-be separatists? ”

    Like Blair and Bush let the genie out of the bottle? You do realise there was a sudden rise of Islamic fundamentalism around the world in 2001.

    “Perhaps you consider that Thaksin’s declaration that 78 Muslim protestors had suffocate to death because they were fasting for Ramadan was helpful? ”

    No, but was more unhelpful was the military’s incompetence in killing the protestors. Look at Kru Se where the Deputy PM ordered the military commander not to storm the mosque only for the order not to be followed out. Heavy-handed response by Thaksin? You confuse rhetoric with government action.

    “Or perhaps we really should all really be making little paper birds to throw at southerners to ensure a peaceful resolution to the crisis?”

    It was a psychological operation? It hardly did any harm and it was about changing the mindset. Have a look at what IHT have to say. Now, if you had criticised his failure to apologise, I would have agreed.

    “I do not dispute that several of Thaksin’s rather gimmicky policies did help the rural poor in parts of Thailand to a degree, but did he not also avoid personal taxation for a very large sum of money following the sale of Shin corp.?”

    Actually, his children avoided capital gains tax.

    “How many new schools, hospitals, etc could have been built using this money alone?”

    What makes you think it would have gone on schools or hospitals? The military budget has increased from 80 billion to 140 billion baht since the coup. It is not as if the Shinawatra clan or Shin Corp don’t pay any tax. It was a stupid political mistake, but that doesn’t mean it was illegal.


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