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Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The Wandering Thai!

Long ago we used to hear the story of the Wandering Jew which so often permeates Western literature. Nowadays, in Asia, we have that poor old man called Thaksin Shinawatra who, it seems is a Wandering Thai without a home despite his 2 billion dollar wealth.

A former Thai prime minister, he was ousted in a bloodless coup in 2007 whilst he was giving a speech to the United Nations in New York. Off he then went to buy up an English football team called Manchester City so that he could win back the support of the Thai people who are absolutely crazy about football especially the Premier League in England.

That didn't work and he ended up selling the club because he needed the money owing to the fact that The Royal Thai government seized a large chunk of his assets held in Thai banks due to corruption charges. He was then sentenced to two years in jail in absentia whereupon (unlike another famous citizen, Socrates, who ate his hemlock rather than disobey the laws of the land) he promptly declared that the charges were politically motivated.

And now we hear that his visa has been revoked from the UK which means that when he leaves his current abode (he's holding up in China apparently and building a 30 million dollar mansion there) he'll have nowhere to go. England doesn't want him, The Phillipines doesn't either (the government under Gloria Aroyyo publicly stated so yesterday) so he is fast becoming a complete outcast. Thaksin must be thinking about the words of that song now - like Van 'the man' Morrison says: 'Gonna shout it every night, Gonna shout it every day, G.L.O.R.I.A, G.L.O.R.I.A'

Perhaps the Burmese will take him as he is known to have had strong ties (not Thais) with his former, near neighbours, the military junta, and especially General Than Shwe allowing them to traffic their drugs along the Golden Triangle, the border with China, Laos and Thailand, and lock up Nobel Prize winning citizens like Aung San Suu Kyi who won an election in the country but was then subsequently jailed as a reward for her troubles.

Poor, poor man! What dreadful luck could have befallen such a clearly talented individual? What could he have done that was wrong to invite such a terrible punishment? What pound of flesh could he have asked for to bring about such rancour and bitterness? Well, the Thai people loved him for a while. His populist policies were selling 'like hot cakes' for a time: he brought in the 30-baht health scheme, where all citizens (read the poorest of the poor who were not surprisingly the ones who voted him into power) were guaranteed medical care for less than one US dollar. The One Tambon (no, not tampon, 'tambon' which is an area or region in Thailand, One Product)OTOP program which helped promote and sell local handicraft and locally produced products around the world. Oh yes! He was flying high for a while and it seemed like he could do no wrong. But then the bubble burst and his enemies surrounded him and stole his piece of the pie when his back was turned in New York! What ingrates, I ask you!!

His biggest mistake, and one which most Thai people even now refuse to accept, was his selling off state assets. They could forgive the fact that he had his hand in the proverbial cookie jar like an underfed Pooh Bear; they could forgive his crackdown on supposed drug dealers killing 2,000 people in extra judicial killings in 3 months (and thinking he was doing the Thai economy a favour by saving the cost of a trial for each suspect); they could even forgive him for the death of 120 people in the Tak Bai incident where protesters were herded onto the back of a truck after being savagely beaten by the police (I know because I saw the video myself), in 35 degree Celcius heat, handcuffed, forced to lie face down. The official verdict was that it was an accident. Yeah! Right, sure. Whatever you say Bro! But the selling off to Temasek Holdings, a Singapore company, of radio waves that belonged to the country, not his own company, Shin Corp, that was the last straw, the one that proverbially broke the camel's back!

I think there is a home for him. He should be captured and brought to jail on the charges he has been convicted of. There is a jail in Thailand called Bang Kwang - it's not as famous as its sister prison - The Bangkok Hilton, but it's a hovel of a place that would scare the screaming be-jesus out of Dante with his infernal capital of Hell - Pandemonium! Thaksin should be arrested wherever he is like that Taiwanese ex-president yesterday, Chen Shui-bian, who we all saw on CNN, waving his handcuffed hands in protest, thrown in to the cell, the door locked and the key thrown away. He deserves nothing less for the punishment he has meted out to those who had no rights or a voice to be heard!

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