- Bangkok traffic is as bad as it ever was.
- Reforms of Thailand's education system are desperately needed.
- Poverty still affects a large number of Thais.
- Corruption is rampant and unchecked.
- Drugs are still readily available throughout Thailand.
- The public-health system is dysfunctional.
- Violence and unrest in the South are escalating.
- Democratic reforms have stalled.
- Accountability and responsibility in the government and public service are non-existent, and the rule of law is inconsistent and plagued by double standards.
Turning the clock back to August and September 2006, Just Before the Coup
( Last edit 2009-06-24 )
Undeniably Uncontroversial "F" for Thaksin
Thaksin gets an 'F' for his accomplishments thus far by Sibeymai Bangkok posted in the Nation
August 9, 2006
With another election drawing near, it is appropriate to consider Thaksin's claims to the prime minister's job. Putting all of the unresolved controversies aside and considering only his past achievements, does Thaksin deserve another term? Simply, the answer must be no.
The list of Thaksin's failures is just too long.
These are some of Thaksin's more notable failures.
So what has Thaksin succeeded in achieving during his time in office? He has reduced civil liberties and human rights, intimidated the media, wasted public money, enriched himself and his friends, and all of this has led to division in Thai society and damage to Thailand's international reputation.
Thaksin receives an "F" for "failure" on his report card. It's time the shareholders sacked the CEO for poor performance. Thailand needs a prime minister who delivers more than empty promises.
Thaksin Factor By Bruce Kent, September 2006, From Seree.Net
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has made it clear he wants to remain in power after an October 15 general election, which could mean a new dose of authoritarianism as he moves to quash the opposition
Thailand may be emerging from a prolonged period of political uncertainty with the prospect of a more authoritarian government. And this could well lead to another, perhaps more unsettled period. The one major factor that could alter this scenario is the Thai courts, which are now playing a more assertive political role.
The issue revolves around the future of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. During his five years in office, his critics say he has shown scant regard for the niceties of full democracy. He once said democracy was a “means, not an end.” And given a new lease in power after the next general election, scheduled for October 15, he could well round on his opponents with a heavier hand. With a huge mandate from mainly rural Thai voters, dazzled by his party’s populist appeal, he has had no parliamentary constraints in clamping down on the media, launching an anti-drug war in 2003 in which 2,500 alleged drug dealers were killed, and brooking no criticism of his rule. The political temperature shot up on August 24 whan Thaksin was allegedly the target of a car bomb attack. While Thaksin said he was “lucky” to escape, his critics said the botched attempt by an army lieutenant was a set-up job to allow him to use emergency law rules to clamp down on his opponents.
Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai party should win the next election because of the rural vote, and he is strongly hinting he wants to remain in power, despite misleading signals after a subsequently annulled April 2 election that he was about to stand down. In typical Thaksin fashion, he has recently been painting himself as a leader who will only reluctantly retain power, because of the people’s clamor. “Now, I am mulling over whether I should continue to be the prime minister,” he reportedly told a crowd in Roi Et, in his main rural bailiwick of northeast Thailand, on August 9. “But I doubt I could walk away from my responsibility if the people said they still wanted me to work for them.” Stirring words indeed in a largely poor rural region which constitutes 137 of parliament’s 500 seats, and where his party has enjoyed overwhelming support since he first came to power in February 2001. He added: “The [crowd’s support] has given me a heavy heart about stepping down.”
Such words taunt his opponents in the People’s Alliance for Democracy, who for the first half of the year organized big street demonstrations in Bangkok, sometimes numbering more than 100,000 people, calling for Thaksin to leave. The PAD’s message was that the former telecoms tycoon had used his five-year term in office to further enrich himself, his family and cronies, through vested interests and abuse of power. While the loud campaign has died down over the past two months, leaders say that if Thaksin is intent on remaining in power, he is asking for trouble. And that, according to some political analysts in Bangkok, could spell violence. “You can see—Thaksin doesn’t care about any opposition,” said one well-placed Thai political analyst, who asked not to be named. “If he carries on like this, it could be more serious.”
Certainly, Thaksin has shown almost total disdain for any opposition, either from opposing parties or from the street. He has also widened rifts between his mainly urban-based opponents and the rural masses. In a surprising statement during his recent tour of northeastern Thailand, he reportedly scoffed at those in Bangkok who oppose him: “These people are ready to believe anyone who deceives them,” he told a crowd in Maha Sarakham. “But if you, villagers, have information, you can’t be deceived. Most Bangkokians have been deceived by bad people.”
It’s obviously gloves-off time as the general election approaches. As Thai political commentators see it, Thaksin is in a fighting mood after the months of street demonstrations. He clearly intends to retain power, and has even tried to undermine royal advisers because it was King Bhumibol Adulyadej who brought the Thai judiciary into the political equation by exhorting judges of the three main Thai courts to sort out the mess of an April 2 election which the king described as undemocratic. That was mainly because Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai party was unopposed, as opposition parties boycotted the poll. Soon after the king’s crucial statement, the Constitution Court annulled the election and the courts assumed—almost by royal command—the unaccustomed role of political referee.
It seemed Thaksin was not happy with the Thai Establishment, meaning those close to the palace and senior judges. In July he lashed out at a “charismatic figure” who was not fettered by constitutional restraints, whom he regarded as a political opponent. As the Thai media saw it, he was referring to Prem Tinsulanond, former prime minister and now chairman of the prestigious Privy Council, which advises the king. Prem, a normally taciturn figure, was widely-perceived as rebuking Thaksin when he made a powerful speech to Thai navy cadets on July 28. Prem told the cadets in a pointed message: “It should be noted that our culture is an old culture, but there is something wrong,” he said. “Normally, rich people are respected, but whereas it’s okay to respect those who have grown rich through legitimate means, we should not wai [respect] those who have acquired wealth through cheating and corruption.”
Rightly or wrongly, that was interpreted by some in the Thai media to have been directed at Thaksin, whose huge wealth and the way he sold his Shin Corp telecoms company to Singapore’s Temasek for US $1.9 billion tax-free in January is one of his opponents’ main weapons. Why should Prem make such a statement to navy cadets if it was not meant for higher circles, they questioned.. Any observers looking for a change of government through parliamentary means are pessimistic about the prospect that the main opposition Democrat party will win the election, or even be able to put together a ruling coalition. Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai won 376 seats in the February 2005 election—the first outright parliamentary majority in Thai history. Because of the corruption, vested interest and abuse of power accusations raised against it this year, the party will probably gather less votes. But it still seems set to win a majority, mainly because of its unflagging popularity among the rural masses—an issue which elements of the Western media say is an endorsement of his rule.
The leader of the opposition Democrats, Abhisit Vejjajiva, is a personable, young politician, but he is only 42—a puppy in Asian political terms—and his English educational background from Britain’s Eton College and Oxford University, with a master’s degree in economics, holds little sway in the rough and tumble of Thaksin-style politics. The Democrat party is Thailand’s oldest political party, but it has to drag itself from its traditional support-bases, the South and Bangkok, to try to do battle with Thaksin on a personal level. In pre-election TV slots, Abhisit is being projected as a “man of the people,” and the party promises an honest government, devoting more attention to education and health. But Abhisit faces a huge problem in trying to counter Thaksin’s street-wise image as a man who knows how to make money. Many Thais tend to believe that a national leader has to be rich to show them the ways.
The one factor which may spoil the scenario of a fresh Thaksin administration is the Thai judiciary’s involvement in politics. After the king’s late-April admonishment to senior judges to sort out the political mess, not only has the April 2 election been annulled, but in July Bangkok’s Criminal Court jailed the remaining three election commissioners for four years for malfeasance connected to their conduct during the election. The commissioners were widely seen as being pro-Thai Rak Thai. The Constitution Court is still deliberating a case in which both the Thai Rak Thai and Democrats are accused of unlawful meddling in the April 2 election. And in late September, a Bangkok criminal court is set to hear a case in which American businessman William Monson accuses Thaksin of perjury, in a complicated 1989 case involving a joint TV cable company venture. If convicted, Thaksin faces a maximum sentence of seven years jail. But the jury is still out on whether Thaksin is about to call it quits, or launch a new period of no-nonsense rule.