Financial Times Editorial and Thaksin’s Rebuttal
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Thai trouble – FT, December 18, 2011
…Even before the floods, the economic problems facing Thailand were significant: poverty is rife in rural areas; inflation is a threat; welfare policy is a mess. The challenges now are greater still. Rising to them would be a good way for Ms Yingluck to boost her government’s standing. Bringing back Mr Thaksin would not.

The full article:

Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Thai prime minister, has spent much of the past two years in self- imposed exile dodging a prison sentence for corruption. The last month, however, has been marked by growing speculation that the newly elected government led by his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is pushing for his return.

Last week the foreign ministry admitted that, two years after it was rescinded, Mr Thaksin has been reissued with a Thai passport. On one level this is little more than a symbolic gesture. Mr Thaksin already has Montenegrin and Nicaraguan papers which enable him to travel as he pleases. But coming after a spat in November over whether Mr Thaksin would be included in the annual royal pardon of prisoners, it has raised suspicions over the government’s intentions.

Ms Yingluck would be ill advised to engineer her brother’s return. Mr Thaksin is an intensely polarising figure, loved by Thailand’s rural poor but detested by the army and the conservative elite. Last month’s rumours of a pardon were enough to catapult protesters from both camps on to the streets. If Mr Thaksin were to return, there is a serious risk that the bitter ideological divisions that have scarred Thai politics since his ousting in a 2006 coup would be reactivated.

In truth, Ms Yingluck should have more important things to think about. Her neophyte government faces a number of daunting challenges – not least the pressing need to root out the deeply entrenched corruption that has long plagued Thailand. Giving special treatment to the country’s most prominent fugitive would not be a good way to start.

Ms Yingluck’s biggest concern, however, should be reviving the country’s economy after it was swamped by the worst floods in 50 years. The October inundation killed more than 600 people, hit thousands of factories and knocked about 1 percentage point off economic growth in the third quarter. Ms Yingluck’s government was widely criticised for failing to co-ordinate adequately the response to the disaster. She cannot afford to bungle management of the recovery as well.

Even before the floods, the economic problems facing Thailand were significant: poverty is rife in rural areas; inflation is a threat; welfare policy is a mess. The challenges now are greater still. Rising to them would be a good way for Ms Yingluck to boost her government’s standing. Bringing back Mr Thaksin would not.

And Thaksin’s Rebuttal (via Robert Amsterdam): Unaddressed cause of Thailand’s scars – FT, December 23, 2011
…Your paper’s exclusion of a democratically elected leader from his country demonstrates the utter failure to comprehend the fact that Thailand’s return to stability and peace is predicated on the restoration of democracy and the rule of law. “The army and the conservative elite” should no longer be permitted to treat a country of 70m people as their own fiefdom.

The full article:

Sir, Your newspaper’s editorial “Thai trouble” (December 18) argues that Thailand’s government “would be ill advised” to engineer the return of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The editorial surmises: “If Mr Thaksin were to return, there is a serious risk that the bitter ideological divisions that have scarred Thai politics since his ousting in a 2006 coup would be reactivated.”

Those divisions have, in fact, never been deactivated. While the Thai people now have a government of their own choosing, the root cause of such divisions – the destruction of the rule of law – has yet to be addressed.

The generals who staged an illegal coup in 2006, interrupting 15 years of democratic rule, remain beyond the reach of the law, as do the civilian and military officials responsible for the deaths of more than 80 protesters in 2010. Dr Thaksin, however, remains in exile due to his refusal to serve an absurd sentence handed down by a court perceived as being in the pocket of his sworn enemies.

Contrary to the statement made in your editorial, Dr Thaksin was not convicted of “corruption”. Rather, his sentence was based on the court’s finding that he should not have allowed his wife to participate in an auction of public land while he served as prime minister. No foreign government has ever considered the sentence as anything other than politically motivated, hence Interpol’s decision never to issue a “Red Notice” for Dr Thaksin.

As stated in your paper’s editorial, Dr Thaksin is indeed “detested by the army and the conservative elite”. The editorial, however, did not explain why it should be up to “the army and the conservative elite” to decide on matters of policy and national reconciliation, considering that the Thai electorate overwhelmingly endorsed Dr Thaksin’s return in the July 2011 elections.

The international community’s willingness to accept the legitimacy of actions taken by the Thai establishment over the electorate’s wishes is a crucial reason why the country finds itself in the midst of a political crisis of this magnitude. Your paper’s exclusion of a democratically elected leader from his country demonstrates the utter failure to comprehend the fact that Thailand’s return to stability and peace is predicated on the restoration of democracy and the rule of law. “The army and the conservative elite” should no longer be permitted to treat a country of 70m people as their own fiefdom.

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2 Responses to Financial Times Editorial and Thaksin’s Rebuttal
บทความของไฟแนนเชี่ยล ไทม์ และการคัดค้านของทักษิณ

  1. Waerth says:

    Hmmmm I can only read the FT article if I pay. Any link to another copy of the article?

  2. lek says:

    Amsterdam still on the Thaskin payroll? Saying the court was political even though it was a two year appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. Forgetting to mention how his lawyers tried to bribe the court. How he jumped bail from China. Talking about democracy when Thaksin himself once said he had little use for democracy and tried to subvert the checks and balances of the independent agencies under the constitution. But what annoys me most is referring to the current Pua Thai government as a political party. It is merely a division of the Shinawatra’s business empire. A cult of personality like what you find in North Korea. Financial Times gets it right where the others like CNN and Wall Street Journal do not. I guess Amsterdam cannot win them all.

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