The Forbidden Confession
( Last edit 2010-04-23 )
The exiled former PM denies he is investing in the government's overthrow.
Sydney Morning Herald by Sian Powell
Thaksin Shinawatra's face is on their red T-shirts. His voice, broadcast on loudspeakers at their encampment in Bangkok's upmarket shopping district, has been in their ears. His words are on their banners. But is his money in their pockets?
Thaksin, once the prime minister of Thailand and now an ousted leader who jumped bail and lives in exile, has been a significant presence at the thousands-strong rally of anti-government protesters at the Ratchaprasong intersection.
The United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship supporters, widely known as the red shirts, believe the current government is illegitimate and have been demanding fresh elections from their encampment, where they have brought commerce to a grinding halt for a fortnight.
They enjoy free food, free water and tarpaulin shelters at the rally site, where a massive stage with a sophisticated sound system and video screen has been set up. Many, especially those from far-flung districts, have been provided with cash to pay for petrol and incidental expenses. A clip on YouTube, apparently shot on the first day of the rally in early March in Nakhon Phanom, in the far north-east of Thailand, shows a red-shirt official with a thick wedge of 1000 baht notes (each note worth about $33) handing 2000 baht in cash to red-shirt supporters.
The red shirts insist they have raised the money from donations rather than from a distant benefactor and, indeed, Thaksin's name is heard increasingly rarely in their leaders' speeches, and his face is less commonly seen on their shirts. Still, sceptics believe the protest is largely a Thaksin investment.
The Foreign Minister, Kasit Piromya, recently speculated that Thaksin is providing the red shirts with 300 million baht a day, and described him as a ''bloody terrorist''.
''It would be nice to have a look at where the money is going,'' he told reporters in Washington. Yet red-shirt numbers at the Ratchaprasong intersection, home to ritzy shopping centres and five-star hotels, swing between a few thousand and more than 30,000. Funds of $10 million a day would provide expenses for months or years to come.
In early February the Thai government announced that large and suspicious sums had been deposited from overseas and local sources into the bank accounts of various red-shirt leaders, and the Department of Special Investigation was told to determine where the money came from.
''The Minister of Justice gave an instruction to the DSI to proceed after there was news suggesting that Thaksin or Thaksin's associates were transferring money illegally into Thailand,'' the government's official spokesman, Panitan Wattanayagorn, told the Herald. ''Intelligence reports suggested unusual activities months ago.''
The funds, he said, were transferred via a winding trail of accounts. He said investigators had pinpointed 16 illegal activities and there had been links to casinos in neighbouring nations and criminal organisations. Mr Panitan said there had been reports in past weeks that 800 million baht had been released from previously frozen bank accounts used by the Thaksin family, but he conceded there was no information on where the money had gone. It was premature to speculate before the investigation's conclusions were released.
Detractors point to another clip of Thaksin wearing red and appealing to his supporters: ''But if you people want me to do the job, then I'm ready to serve you,'' he says. ''I'm ready to serve you and you don't need to queue for 500 baht.'' This has been adduced as evidence the tycoon is paying protesters a daily salary, but analysts have pointed out that he could easily have been referring to the queues for government assistance, one program offering 2000 baht and another 500 baht for the elderly.
Pismai Srisuk, a Bangkok housewife with four grown children, is mightily offended to learn there have been suggestions she is a paid activist, turning out on the searingly hot Bangkok streets for a little cash. ''The people only give some red shirts food,'' she said, sporting a red shirt and a large ring with a red stone. ''That's all.''
Nolapan Kaewkarn, who has a small shop in the city, said she desperately wanted Thaksin to return to Thailand. ''He does what he says,'' she said. As for the idea of red shirts as paid rabble-rousers, ''that's just a big lie''.
Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a respected Thai political scientist now based at Stanford, said that although it was likely Thaksin had provided some funds for the month-long rally, the red shirts were becoming increasingly adept at raising money.
''Given the close relationship between Thaksin and the [United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship] leaders from the outset, it would be surprising if Thaksin provides no funds at all,'' he said. ''On the other hand, there have been growing organic fund-raising efforts among the reds' rank and file. To pin down numbers from Thaksin's pocket would require substantiation. A significant portion, if not the bulk, of his family wealth has been confiscated or is still in legal limbo.'' Thitinan said the highly volatile political atmosphere required flexibility from the government. ''Opponents need to consider and accommodate some of the red shirts' grievances on their own merits without the catch-all fixation with Thaksin's corruption and money, for Thailand to have peace and reconciliation.''
Funds had come from red-shirt sympathisers, insisted Weng Tojirakarn, one of the four senior red-shirt leaders. ''We must be very, very careful about the contribution of Mr Thaksin,'' he told the Herald. ''He supports us, yes, with speechmaking. But that's all.''
The movement's finances rested largely on donations, Weng said, which ranged from about 400,000 baht a day to 1.1 million baht a day. ''It's self sufficient,'' he said. ''There's no money coming from overseas.''
Ronayos's Comment: Thitinan is one of Thaksin's sympathizers. Though the outer shells are academic, either Thongchai Winitjakul in Wisconsin, Charnwit Kasetsiri, Nithi Ewsriwong, Suthachai Yimprasert, Worajet Pakeerat, Thanes Apornsuwan, Giles Ung-parkorn more or less favour Thaksin and express antiroyalism as seen in their so-clamied academic works or interviews. Their favour of Thaksin may as well be just ideological or corrupt briberies.
Weng Tojirakarn, ex-communist who survived October 6, 1976 's massacre, a medical doctor now, becomes Thaksin's red-army leader with either decades-long personal vengeance to General Prem and the institute or a personal favour of Thaksin's bribery. Weng is one of the untrustworthy hypocrite. In 2006, like Sanoh Thientong, he joined PAD's rally and condemned Thaksin as the worst corrupt dictator traitor but later after the coup he changes his colour to red. On April 11, 2009, he invented a big hoax that there were red-shirts shot dead to smear against PM Abhist's crackdown on red riots, along with Thaksin's lies to force Royal intervention. Months later, still there have been no bodies or complaint that any red-shirts were shot dead. Only two innocent civilians of Nang Lerng community were shot dead by red-shirt gangsters. .
The protesters, he said, were using metropolitan water from hydrants, and electricity from the grid. ''And we don't pay for hotels,'' he added, gesturing at the tarmac. The stage and sound system had required some outlay of funds, but only in the beginning. ''A lot of people bring food for us, every day in the morning, at lunchtime and at night. It's because our struggle is a right cause.''
Meanwhile, Thaksin has been floating around the world on his various passports, seen in Sweden, Russia and recently, apparently, in the South Pacific. The 60-year-old misses Thailand, but has not sent a message on his Twitter page since April 11, about the time a burst of violence at a red-shirt rally site left 23 people dead and hundreds injured. His broadcasts to the faithful have decreased in number recently. Still, in a Twitter message, he denied rumours that he had been heard less often because he was unwell.
''I am not sick, I am healthy,'' he said, ''but I want the stage to be a stage for fighting democracy and justice.''
Dan Oakes reports: Speculation is mounting that Thaksin might be planning to use Fiji as his new base. Sources in Thailand have told the Herald Thaksin is either in or en route to Fiji, which does not have an extradition treaty with Thailand.
Ronayos's Comment: Thaksin's network of co-sponsors may include his wealthy billionaire cronies eg. MaMa Red (Yaowapa, YingLak the blood sister of Thaksin.) ex-PM Somchai, Lady Wiriya, several ex-ministers of Thaksin eg. Suriya Jungrungruangkit. Certainly, Thaksin's ex-wife, Potjaman Na Pompetch is not at all excluded from the list.
Thaksin's lies and intrigues are never ending. On nightly provoking broadcast before red-riot in April 2009, Thaksin promised to his supporters that he will return to lead them by himself if the first shot was fired. Then, while thousands of shots were fired in Bangkok streets, Thaksin joyfully went for Shopping in Dubai and never show up in Thailand.
For over a year, Thaksin kept himself well fortified in Dubai and categorically refused the possibility of being expelled. Incidentally, a case of a fugitive criminal highly demanded by UAE, was sent from Thailand to UAE with a hopeful reciprocity treatment of Thaksin, the terrorist fugitive of Thailand. Thaksin's hypocrisies are then caught as he has to roam the sky and bribes crook governments for new sanctuaries in every corner of the world, where all of them are non-democratic, backward, corrupt or led by dictators, such as in Congo, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Montenegro.
Worst for Thaksin is that sooner or later, his loyal terminal stage prostate cancer shall catch up with Thaksin's lies.
An Outspoken Unloyalist Billionaire
Translated and Adapted From Manager Online
Thanathorn Jungrungruangkit, the son of elder blood brother of Suriya Jungrungruangkit pronounced himself through Matichon Weekend Magazine, a wholehearted supporter of the "Red Peasants" as he admitted himself a "Billionaire Peasant". He pointed that the "Elites" (Ammat in Thai) are people who are not subjected to check and balance and are the resistance to the development of the country as well as the cause of corruption. He is confident that the red-shirts have the solution for democracy and shall overcome. The "Elites" will be be defeated. Back in 2008, he wrote articles condemning PAD that they were causing divisiveness, violence and economic losses.
A Manager's article wrote that Matichon Weekend Magazine of April 16-22, 2010 published a special interview of Thanathorn, Deputy CEO of Thai Summit Group, in "Thanathorn Jungrungruangkit, a Billionaire Peasant Who Vows Support of Red-shirts : Thai Capitalism Cannot Grow In Presence of Elites (Ammat)"
Initially, the article introduces that for the past year, the sales of Thai Summit Group amounted over 43,000 million baht.
"I tried to find a political stance. Eventually, I was clear to myself what the yellow-shirts are fighting for and what the red-shirts are fighting for. In principle, I do not agree with the yellow-shirts for sure. With the red, in the beginning, there were a lot of doubts in their stance. Eventually, I think that the red-shirts have sufficiently proved themselves. OK, there are some Thaksin's agenda, or else but most of their proposals answer to Thai democracy quests."
He added that "Peasants" and "Elites" have deeply particular meanings. Elites are people with the authority and not subjected for check and balance.
"Nobody says that the representative democracy through the parliament is the best in the world but it is the least evil. No matter how wicked Thaksin is, you would still be able to check and balance Thaksin, such as in the last two years of his term. He was checked in every aspects whereas another powerful group which govern something in the society may not be subjected to any touch. The red-shirt's struggle today is valuable because five years ago the President of the Privy Council cannot be criticized but it is possible now."
Ronayos's Comment: How red-shirts exercise their check and balance comprises of violent and destructive demonstration, intimidation, insulting, smear campaigns, curse rituals and obvious death threats posed directly upon the retied General Prem Tinsulanond, the current President of the Privy Council, who in 1980s ended the war over the Communist guerilla in Thailand and between 1980 to 1988, served as one of the best Prime Ministers Thailand ever had..
To be continued