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Monday, 29 December 2008

‘The Lady’s Not for Turning…’

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‘The Lady’s Not for Turning’ was something Margaret Thatcher famously said referring to her decision not to enter the ERM, the European Exchange Rate Mechanism which was seen as a vital fence to climbed over if the UK was to ever seriously show its intention to become a full member of Europe.

‘To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the "U" turn, I have only one thing to say. "You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning." I say that not only to you but to our friends overseas and also to those who are not our friends.’

Here in Thailand, Thaksin’s wife, Potjdam, has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons because she decided that a U-turn was in fact just what she needed. Having got divorced from her husband of over 20 years, she entered Thailand (although a convicted felon from a corruption scandal). To be fair though, the divorce is widely seen as an attempt to distance herself legally from her husband in order to get access to his frozen funds. So why did she come?

This is the simple part. She came here to try to influence the election of a new government in Thailand after the previous one led by Thaksin’s brother-in-law, Somchai Wongsawat, was forced to step down through a corruption case. Just as in the old days when Thaksin himself would be seen on the TV walking round small Thai villages handing out fresh, crisp 1,000 baht notes (about 20 GBP), Potjdam’s intention was to hand out sums, much larger of course, to secure politicians’ support for her husband and ensuring that his political party would be able to stay in power. Of course we now know that this didn’t happen.

This securing of political support was important though because only then he would he have the chance to get another bite at the 2 billion dollars currently tied up in Thai banks: the product of the illegal sale of his company, Shin Corporation, to Temasek Holdings, the state owned communications company of Singapore. With his boys in power, he could easily have appointed a few favourable judges to overrule the original decision and let him have his money back. As it is, he now only has till January 4th, four days from now, to present new claims to the money and if he fails, it’s lost forever in the bottomless coffers that is the Thai state treasury.

Despite the lady’s best efforts, Thaksin looks in a desperate situation, which is why I predict a wave of bombs and general disruption in the next few days and weeks. Don’t forget the bombs that went off last New Year here in Thailand and don’t be surprised to see more.

With his closest political ally, Newin Chidchob, and all the members of his faction, having all but abandoned their relationship with Thaksin, the deadline for presenting documents to the courts to get back the 2 billion US dollars a heartbeat away, his red shirt supporters exploding (or should that be ‘imploding’) like a wet firecracker, his diplomatic passport having been removed (and a lot of talk about taking away his regular Thai one too as he’s a convicted felon now), you can see that he’s something not unlike a cornered animal (I refrained from using the word ‘rat’) though some would say that’s an appropriate symbol for the man!

Can his lady save him? Can she do a ‘mission impossible’ and somehow rescue the situation? Or should she turn and hightail it out of town? Many people believe she should, and some say that's exactly what she should do - turn and run for it like a Betty Boob character - when the trappings of wealth are gone there's not much to stay for other than to get caught up in her husband's ignominious fall from grace!

Thaksin's Day of Reckoning is getting ever closer and many people, not just Thais but also the large ex-pat community believe he is getting payback for the wrongdoings during his tenure as prime-minister. The Thais have a saying that roughly translates as 'you get what you deserve' - Som num na! Perhaps Potjdam should run and hightail it before that happens. Or perhaps like Lady Thatcher, she'll say the same thing - 'The lady's not for turning'. We'll just have to wait and see.

1 comment:

cos67 aka costick67 aka cosine67 said...

Apparently, according to the tv drama bearing her name, was turning tricks of a sort to get to the top. She was using every one of her feminine wiles, e.g. sex, crying,etc. Then she played tough like on of the boys, and particularly towards other women. She came from a grocer's family and got lucky by getting into Oxford and then she made it seem as if all the British had to do was work hard to succeed.
She only took 4 hours of sleep (same as G Brown). If I was on 4 hours sleep, I too would start speaking in tongues and saying 'kill the poor'.