Thaksin, “the Berlusconi of Asia”

Jeff Bezos, meet your fellow media plutocrats –, August 12, 2013
Among the media barons who have successfully made the transition from industry to politics, only Thaksin Shinawatra comes close to the success — and infamy — Berlusconi has garnered. Through a canny — and, some say, corrupt — use of government concessions, Shinawatra built a media empire from scratch that at its height (it’s now owned by a Singaporean holding company, though the family is still a powerhouse) included a majority stake in the country’s only private television network, a significant chunk of its largest mobile phone operator, a 40-percent stake in a major Internet provider, and a 41-percent stake in a satellite communications firm. But his good fortune was not to last. Elected prime minister in 2001, he was thrown out in a coup in 2006 amid charges of corruption and an anti-democratic governing style. Tellingly, his critics in the intelligentsia liked to call him the “Berlusconi of Asia.”

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