The very bizarre case of Dr Thaksin Shinawatra

The very bizarre case of Dr Thaksin Shinawatra - The Nation, September 12, 2004
Another tough editorial from The Nation. This also touches lightly on a subject we have pondered here at 2Bangkok.com--could a personality like Thaksin stage some sort of action to gain unopposed power or might others eventually take action "for the good of the country"?
...All national leaders have dark areas. Those who suffer from over-confidence, hubris and arrogance of power tend to lose their sense of reality. They fail to listen to other people and see no signs of disaster.
A national leader who feels genuine compassion towards his fellow citizens would never look down upon the little people. After all, he still needs their votes – unless he grabs the power to rule by force.
History shows that leaders with these symptoms generally fail to realise that their downfall is just around the corner. We have experienced the rise and fall of tyrants, both civilian and military, throughout our history, but the Strange Case of Dr Thaksin is something very peculiar.
Our political history will probably embark on a new chapter very soon.


[Note from 2014: This article was indicative of the tenor of the times--expressing fear and astonishment at Thaksin's boldness and wondering what the future would hold. However, like much of the writing during the early days when Thai businesses where going online, it has vanished from the net, so here is the full article...]

SIDELINES: The very bizarre case of Dr Thaksin Shinawatra

Published on Sep 12, 2004

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra blew his top last week while venting his fury at his most recent arch-nemesis Ekkayuth Anchanbutr. However legendary the prime minister’s short fuse, this most recent outburst was still very extraordinary.

The prime minister’s rage came couched in very harsh words, sarcasm and thinly veiled threats of retaliation.

His choice of language was unbecoming of a benevolent national leader, particularly one from the “compassionate capitalist” school. We should know that our CEO smugly plays this twin role most of the time.

Unfortunately, his public behaviour and conduct in office remind a lot of people of “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson. It is not known whether Thaksin has ever recommended that his Cabinet members read this book whenever they are free from their indulgence in self-enrichment.

The vehemence of Thaksin’s wrath could have been a result of the accumulative effect of the continual criticism and barrage of unflattering comments that have been directed at him in recent months, during the “downtime” of his eroding popularity.

A few days before his Ekkayuth outburst, he had labelled a group of about two dozen eminent and respectable figures – among them academics, social thinkers and well-known lecturers – “a bunch of fools” who, Thaksin boasted, would never be able to understand what he was up to.

What these luminaries did to deserve the prime minister’s ire was write articles for two best-selling books to educate the public on the politics of the day and expose the blatant mischief-making and massive corruption that has taken place during the Thaksin years. The blatant graft, the plundering of national assets and the scope of the gluttony, among other sinister goings on, have become a new source of wonder.

Ekkayuth’s hollering about stock price manipulation by politicians within Thaksin’s inner circle immediately redirected the prime minister’s attention. Such accusations might be embarrassing, but they are nothing compared to the previous examples of big-time corruption that have occurred with the help of policy.

Thaksin’s response was swift, but in an unexpected direction. Instead of taking prompt action against the nogoodnicks, our CEO unleashed a barrage of criticism of Ekkayuth, branding him a felon who had swindled a lot of people and got away with it thanks to the help of statutory limitations.

He is a fine one to preach morality in business practices and corporate good governance with a straight face.

And our CEO was not satisfied to just ridicule and jibe his accuser’s controversial past as the operator of a pyramid scheme: his cronies in various units promptly got down to work digging up dirt on Ekkayuth, and the Anti-Money Laundering Office declared that Ekkayuth’s assets could be seized.

This opened the way for what is shaping up to be a drawn-out battle.

Ekkayuth declared the other day that he is on a crusade to stop what he regards as the authoritarian rule of the country before disaster strikes.

At a press conference, he received warm support from many people who are against Thaksin’s way of doing things. About 200 members of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club signed their names in support of Ekkayuth’s risky mission.

What was our CEO’s response? He scoffed at his upper middle-class antagonists with disdain, remarking crudely that they were the kind of people who held all the non-performing loans, and that they should clearly distinguish which among them were “humans” and which “buffaloes”.

We can see that our CEO’s arrogance and contempt for the people have reached new heights. Is his case beyond salvaging? The pattern of his behaviour has become a subject of concern.

As the saying goes, loose lips sink ships. Thaksin is practising statecraft in a turbulent sea of his own saliva.

All national leaders have dark areas. Those who suffer from over-confidence, hubris and arrogance of power tend to lose their sense of reality. They fail to listen to other people and see no signs of disaster.

A national leader who feels genuine compassion towards his fellow citizens would never look down upon the little people. After all, he still needs their votes – unless he grabs the power to rule by force.

History shows that leaders with these symptoms generally fail to realise that their downfall is just around the corner. We have experienced the rise and fall of tyrants, both civilian and military, throughout our history, but the Strange Case of Dr Thaksin is something very peculiar.

Our political history will probably embark on a new chapter very soon.

SOPON ONKGARA
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