Thaksin’s wife owns new party headquarters

Thaksin's wife owns new party headquarters - Bangkok Post, July 15, 2005
...Some critics have called into question the willingness on the part of the prime minister's family to make sacrifices to the party.
But Mr Phumtham said the party had what it took to become a fully-fledged political institution. Its success hinged on its ability to stay in politics, create a desirable political culture and expand party membership, he said.
"Unlike some parties whose existence is rendered meaningless by its failure to serve a political purpose, our party has delivered goals throughout the seven years since it was established,'' he said, ending with a swipe at the rival Democrat party.

[2015 note: Like many Thai newspaper articles from the early days of the Thai internet, this article is no longer online. Below is the complete text of the original article.]

Ruling party moves into new headquarters

BANGKOK: -- Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai Party celebrated the seventh anniversary of its inception in 1998 by moving into its new headquarters yesterday. Dozens of party executives, ministers and MPs gathered at the IFCT Building on New Phetburi Road to inspect their new offices.

The otherwise smooth celebration of the anniversary was marred by a minor accident when Thaksin’s car bumped into the car of his youngest daughter.

Shortly after Thaksin and his wife, Pojaman, left their car, their chauffeur, while backing into a parking space, accidentally hit the car of the couple’s youngest child, Paetongtarn Shinawatra.

Both cars sustained minor scratches and nobody was hurt in the accident, which happened just before a religious ceremony.

The party’s new headquarters comprises an eight- and a 14-floor building, complete with fully equipped gyms, libraries, gardens and high-speed computer terminals.

At the main entrance, an exhibition room documents the landslide victory of the party at the two most recent elections. It also displays copies of the 109 books Thaksin has recommended for party members.

Thaksin presided over the opening ceremony, but refused to speak to the press. Thaksin is said to remain furious at journalists for allegedly perpetuating skewed reports about his leadership.

Both buildings of the new party headquarters belong to Pojaman Shinawatra, who spent Bt800 million on them. Party officials explained the need for the new headquarters by saying that the party apparatus had outgrown its old home. At its inception in 1998, Thai Rak Thai had 23 members and not a single parliamentarian. Today, the party’s membership exceeds 12 million. The number of party MPs in the 500-seat House jumped from 247 after the 2001 election to 377 in 2005.

With such rapid growth, this is the third time the party has relocated its headquarters. The previous headquarters were in the Shin Tower III Building, which also houses the nerve centres of firms owned by the Shinawatra family. The party’s first headquarters were on Rachavithee Road.

It is believed that beyond the growth in membership, another reason for the relocation has been Thaksin’s desire to disassociate the party from his family’s business empire.

--The Nation 2005-07-15
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