Thaksin hits his political mentor with land encroachment charges


(Source: Full page ad in Bangkok Post, June 1, 1995)

[2014 note: Like many of the Thai newspaper articles that detail the roots of the Thai political crisis--Thaksin's quest for absolute power--the full version has vanished. Articles in English that detail these events have disappeared into the obscurity of the early Thai interent when link structures were changed month to month and entire years of stories were unceremoniously dumped to save database space. Thus, we have included the full text below.]

More about when Thaksin was given control of the Phalang Dharma Party

Also: The Roots of the Thai Political Crisis: Thaksin as Prime Minister

Personality clash comes to a head - The Nation, September 24, 2004
The bitter falling out between Thaksin and Chamlong is a fresh sign of the polarisation of Thai politics. It was bound to happen.
Even when Thaksin Shinawatra and Chamlong Srimuang were at the height of their political romance in the mid-1990s, their latent irreconcilable differences were obvious. Everyone, with the possible exception of the duo itself, knew it would be just a matter of time before the two parted company. One wore a home-made mor hom shirt, while the other had a penchant for pricey designer products. One ate one meal a day and bathed himself with only seven scoops of water, while the other indulged in the world.

...While Chamlong’s turnaround was no surprise, Thaksin’s latest move was never anticipated. The land encroachment charges that have been levelled at the charitable Chamlong Foundation is perhaps one of the biggest ironies of Thailand’s modern political history. Chamlong’s campaign against allegedly illegal land grabs in Phuket by Democrat politicians, known as the Sor Por Kor scandal, brought down the Chuan government in 1995 and paved the way for his rich tycoon friend to make further inroads into politics.
Following the collapse of the Chuan administration, Chamlong allowed Thaksin to take over his Palang Dharma Party, which the businessman ran a few years before forming his own Thai Rak Thai...


Full text:

EDITORIAL: Personality clash comes to a head

Published on Sep 24, 2004

The bitter falling out between Thaksin and Chamlong is a fresh sign of the polarisation of Thai politics

It was bound to happen. Even when Thaksin Shinawatra and Chamlong Srimuang were at the height of their political romance in the mid-1990s, their latent irreconcilable differences were obvious. Everyone, with the possible exception of the duo itself, knew it would be just a matter of time before the two parted company. One wore a home-made mor hom shirt, while the other had a penchant for pricey designer products. One ate one meal a day and bathed himself with only seven scoops of water, while the other indulged in the world’s most expensive wines and spent sums on haircuts that would put food on the table of a poor family for weeks. One made it common practice to denounce the power of money, while the other by that time had already become Thailand’s richest tycoon.

When Chamlong declared recently that Thaksin was his personal mistake, eyebrows were raised as people asked themselves what had taken him so long to reach this conclusion. That statement, alongside some shrewd manoeuvring, helped make sure that the ruling Thai Rak Thai Party was humiliated at the Bangkok governor election.

Even before that, Chamlong had put the last nails in the coffin of Thaksin’s ambitions to buy a share of the Liverpool Football Club with money raised from a special lotto.

Over the past few months, the veteran politician known as “Mr Clean” during his politically active days has started to look like a man who is trying to clear his conscience and rid himself of his guilt for having played a pivotal role in launching Thaksin’s political career.

There is no doubt that Thaksin must have been deeply offended when this change became evident, though he continued, for a while anyway, to go out of his way to show respect for his former mentor. He scrapped the Liverpool lotto plan and gave credit to Chamlong by saying that the latter was criticising him in good faith. However, the premier dropped this restraint during the governor election campaign, during which he defiantly described Chamlong as “just someone I know”. And the burning bridge finally caved in this week.

While Chamlong’s turnaround was no surprise, Thaksin’s latest move was never anticipated. The land encroachment charges that have been levelled at the charitable Chamlong Foundation is perhaps one of the biggest ironies of Thailand’s modern political history. Chamlong’s campaign against allegedly illegal land grabs in Phuket by Democrat politicians, known as the Sor Por Kor scandal, brought down the Chuan government in 1995 and paved the way for his rich tycoon friend to make further inroads into politics.

Following the collapse of the Chuan administration, Chamlong allowed Thaksin to take over his Palang Dharma Party, which the businessman ran a few years before forming his own Thai Rak Thai.

To have hit Chamlong with Sor Por Kor land grab charges is revenge of such a large scale that a new conspiracy theory is brewing. The Bangkok election embarrassment was bad, but even without Chamlong, Thai Rak Thai-backed candidate Pavena Hongsakul would still have lost anyway.

Speculation has mounted that Chamlong must have done something out of the public eye that prompted Thaksin, a man who is known for showing gratitude to the people who helped him succeed, to shrug off threats of being deemed an ingrate or, worse, a leader who abuses his power.

That speculation revolves around Chamlong and Thaksin’s rivals, both old and new. According to some reports, the ambush on the government by the controversial tycoon Ekkayuth Anchanbutr and its aftermath fuelled the prime minister’s suspicions towards his ex-mentor.

Ekkayuth is known to be close to former military officers who are notorious for their predisposition towards overthrowing governments through the use of force or underground strategies. The nucleus of this group consists of key members of the Chulachomklao Military Academy’s Class 7, to which Chamlong belongs.

It remains to be seen if the showdown between Thaksin and Chamlong is in fact reflecting a lot more of the current state of Thai politics than meets the eye.

But even without conspiracy theories, the fallout is highly significant in that it provides undeniable proof of escalating tension and polarisation in Thai politics, which have apparently moved a growing number of top political and social figures and thinkers to lay siege to the mighty Thaksin empire.

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