2010 Thaksin's Terrorism
Militant Red Army
Korean's Warning: Beware of Addiction to Thaksin
( Last edit 2010-04-18 )
Korean Newspaper Crticizes Thaksin
Thai-Asean News Network on April 19, 2010
The South Korean president has been quoted as saying former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra is the real cause of the current political crisis in Thailand.
Meanwhile, a Korean newspaper suggests Thaksin-style populist polices could lead to the collapse of a nation.
South Korean President Lee Myung Bak was quoted as saying former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been inciting national discord.
He advised Koreans not to follow this example as the country used to suffer a severe conflict during the Korean War which resulted in the separation of North and South Korea.
An English editorial in the Chosun Ilbo newspaper, meanwhile, advised Korean politicians and people to learn from the Thaksin-style populist policies as they could lead to the collapse of a country like what took place in Argentina.
The editorial entitled “Beware of Populism” recalled the April 10 clash where scores of law-enforcement officials and protesters were killed and almost 1,000 were injured after the Thai government declared a state of emergency.
It also noted the red-shirt protesters in April last year stormed the ASEAN Summit meeting venue, forcing the Korean president to flee by helicopter.
The editorial said the current red-shirt anti-government protests are centered around globe-trotting Thaksin, whose premiership was ended in 2006 by a military coup.
It said protesters marched across Bangkok, aiming only to see him return despite his massive corruption as they have already been addicted to his populist policies that have dried up the state coffer.
The editorial suggested the current protests are pushing Thailand to a civil war as the demonstrators may confront government supporters.
It also urged Korean political parties to take the lesson from Thailand and beware of luring voters with populist policies.
Beware of Populism
English.Chosun.Com on Apr. 15, 2010
Protesters clashed with soldiers in Bangkok on Saturday in a standoff that killed 21 people and injured around 870 after the Thai government had announced a state of emergency. In April last year, anti-government protesters stormed into the conference venue of the ASEAN+3 Summit causing the high-profile meeting to be cancelled, and 16 heads of state, including Korean President Lee Myung-bak, had to be airlifted to safety from the rooftop. In December, 2008, an ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting in Thailand had to be canceled due to protests.
At the center of anti-government protests is former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He became prime minister in 2001 and was re-elected in 2005. But in January of 2006, his family sold US$1.9 billion worth of shares in a telecom company to Singapore's state investment company without paying any taxes. More revelations followed showing that he funneled lucrative business contracts to his own businesses, avoided taxes, took bribes and rigged bids. In February, the Thai Supreme Court ordered the confiscation of Thaksin's illegal fortune worth 46 billion baht (W1.61 trillion).
Thaksin has been roaming the world since being stripped of power at the end of 2006, and the anti-government protesters who have swept through the Thai capital want to see him return. At present, Thailand is in a virtual state of civil war as the red shirted anti-government protesters face off against citizens clad in yellow shirts supporting the incumbent government. Thaksin is leading his supporters, mostly poor farmers from northern and northeastern Thailand, via appearances on satellite broadcasts and through phone messages.
The reason why Thaksin's supporters long for his return despite his massive corruption scandals is that they have become hooked on his populist policies. After taking office, Thaksin rolled over farmers' debts for three years, provided state medical insurance to all Thais for a basic fee of just 30 baht (W1,050) and handed out 1 million baht (W35 million) to each village under the pretext of narrowing the income gap between city dwellers and farmers. The generous policies ended up emptying Thailand's state coffers. Thaksin was finally driven out of office as he faced mounting discontent among the middle class, who grew tired of the deteriorating quality of medical services despite rising taxes.
But low-income Thais had already become addicted to free handouts. There is no cure for a public that has become addicted to populist policies. Thailand is not the only country to experience such a problem. Argentina, which had almost reached advanced-country status in the late 1990s as well as other Latin American countries ended up falling back to Third World status after trying to meet the demands of citizens who had grown accustomed to populism.
In Korea, ruling and opposition parties are racing to come out with policies to win the hearts and minds of voters ahead of the June 2 regional elections. The Democratic Party has proposed using W1.5 trillion in taxpayer's money to provide free lunches to 5.48 million students, while the Grand National Party has produced nine policy goals aimed at helping the poor at a cost of W1.22 trillion in state spending. To those watching the red- and yellow-shirted protesters in Thailand, those pledges have an ominous ring.