Friday, April 30, 2010

The idiot pictured above is the direct cause of Thailand’s latest path to certain destruction, or better yet, becoming what many world leaders call, “A Failed State.”

Sure, the Thai economy would have to collapse, but looking at, say…Zimbabwe, and their history, who’s to say it isn’t far off?

Many countries have turned their back on Thailand due to opposition in the way the Thai government is being run and the very real fear their money would fall into the wrong hands. Korn Chatikavanij, the British-born, Oxford educated Thai finance minister, recently made a statement at a business meeting with foreign emissaries, that Thai politics unfortunately did not make sense. That statement, coming directly from a minister of parliament of Thailand, is a great loss of face for the Thai government.

Foreign companies, who once called Thailand their home, are now pulling out of Thailand due to massive money losses in the millions and sometimes billions of baht. Tourism, one of the biggest money makers in Thailand, if not the biggest, has suffered incredible losses. Tour agencies are reporting massive cancellations, hotel bookings are down or are being canceled the very moment I write this article, and airlines are doing double-steps to keep their occupancy rates up.

Some tour agencies have closed their doors since it costs them more money to open shop every day and use electricity, than any overhead they are making. Here in the south if you wander around the central district where thousands of Thai’s and foreign tourists alike shop at Lee Garden Mall and surrounding shops and restaurants, it’s like a ghost town compared to busier times. Walk a couple blocks away from Lee Garden, in any direction, and you’ll see tour agencies, bus tours, and local tour touts either closed or in the process of closing. Many hotels have signs on their doors and windows advertising they are selling out.

Although there isn’t any Red Shirt violence here to speak of, the South has seen enough unrest, with southern insurgent bombings adding to the bleed-over effect of violence in the streets of Bangkok, all in the name of Thaksin Shinawatra, the man pictured above.

Years ago the King was in charge. He’s the oldest living monarch in the world at present, and his people have always remained dedicated to him. I used to live in the desert southwest of the U.S., and in every Hispanic person's house you’d find a picture of Christ, and a section of the house cordoned off with candles and shrines devoted to their religion. Here in Thailand there’s not one home you can walk into without seeing a picture of the King, the Queen or the Royal family somewhere on the wall, often with a shrine build about it.

Now that’s dedication.

But, monarchies are old hat. Thailand’s went south a long time ago and what budded from it was a fledgling democracy. It was a democratic government for the people, which never seemed to catch on. Some people say, “The people are speaking out, they’re taking control. This is democracy at work.

Huh? Taking control? Yeah, they’re taking control alright…control of the streets, not the country. People are dying. Is this a democracy?

I did a quick web search and came up with this definition for democracy…

“The political orientation of those who favor government by the people or by their elected representatives.”

Well, what if the “government,” is severely corrupt? What if a terrible lack of transparency exists? What if the election process is so tainted that votes are widely bought and sold on a huge scale? Where is the democracy in all that mess?

Perhaps you’ve heard of the, “Corruption Perception Index,” put out by Transparency International, the global coalition against corruption. Many people have, but some Westerner’s have never heard of it. It’s a scale that measures the degree of corruption in a country, in particular – their government. The scale is based on a 1 to 10 score, one being the most corrupt, and 10 being an absence of corruption.

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) table located at:, shows a country's ranking and score, the number of surveys used to determine the score, and the confidence range of the scoring. The rank shows how one country compares to others included in the index.

  • The CPI score indicates the perceived level of public-sector corruption in a country/territory.
  • The CPI is based on 13 independent surveys. However, not all surveys include all countries. The surveys used column indicates how many surveys were relied upon to determine the score for that country.

The confidence range indicates the reliability of the CPI scores and tells us that allowing for a margin of error; we can be 90% confident that the true score for a country lies within this range.

New Zealand is in the #1 position with a score of 9.4. Not too shabby.

The U.S. is at an embarrassing #19, The United Kingdom is ranked 17, and zipping right on down to the bottom of the table is…you guessed it! Good old Somalia, the Pirate's Club Med, at #180, with a score of 1.1, or damn near totally corrupt.

Thailand is ranked #84, with a score of 3.4, based on nine surveys, and a confidence range of 3.0 to 3.8.

Pretty pitiful.

All was rolling along pretty good years ago, when along came the man in the picture. Thaksin Shinawatra is his name. A relative nobody. A cop who entered politics like many rather wealthy, corrupt Thai middle class Thai men. He knew corruption well.

Any Thai cop knows corruption well, it’s their base.

A Thai cop is not allowed to take public transportation. In order to be a cop, you have to have your own form of transportation, a motorcycle at the very least, but a truck or car even better. If your vehicle stops running…you walk. You don’t take the bus, or Songtheaw, or tuk tuk, or any form of public transportation. It’s all about losing face.

So, Thaksin Shinawatra entered politics and slowly, but every so steadily, climbed the ladder to fame and fortune. Only problem with that is he used his political positions to gain fame and fortune. You’re not supposed to do that. The Thai constitution says you’re not supposed to do that. Most every member of parliament, government official, and hi-so middle class Thai citizen, knew of his corrupt game. But, did anyone speak out? Uh-uh. Why? Well, it’s all about losing face.

And about hanging out with the man who’s in the money.

Some say Thaksin was after the whole kit and caboodle. They say he was planning to overthrow the monarchy. Other sources say the King hated him and some whisper that the royal institution was behind the coup d'état that overthrew Thaksin.

Thaksin didn't like the media. He was known to put the cabash on journalists and t.v. media hounds. He even had lawsuits pending against certain journalists who had spoken out against him. This caused the King to repremand him in public, telling him something to the effect, "You should learn to accept criticism. Embrace other people's opinions of you, even if they are negative, as you might learn something." Shortly after that humiliating loss of face in clear view of the public, Thaksin withdrew his lawsuits.

Thailand’s got a lot to learn, but they won’t learn it from foreigners. No way. Why? Well, it’s all about losing face.

Thaksin Shinawatra was a relatively smart man. Elected to the Prime Minister post not once, but twice, he knew his base. The poor, rural farmers of the North and Northeast were the majority voters in Thailand, so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what to do next.

You throw them a bone.

And Thaksin did just that.

He threw the rural, uneducated poor, a bone. Several bones as a matter of fact. Then he proceeded to proclaim a crack down on the drug trade. His big plan backfired a bit though, when the police and military who were given the power to enforce his plan, began feeling powerful and began taking the law into their own hands.

Extra-judicial killings, massacres, the killing of innocent people.

Thousands died at the hands of Thaksin Shinawatra, and nothing was ever done. Why? Well, it’s all about losing face.

Some of the people who died were relatives or friends of the rural poor in the North and Northeast provinces. Sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, nephews, whole damn families. People in the provinces were beginning to smarten up. They were getting pissed off that this shiny new Prime Minister who talked fancy on TV, but could speak Northern dialects when visiting the grassroots, was directly responsible for the deaths of their relatives, their friends.

So, you wanna know what he did? He threw more money at them. Lots and lots of money.

And all was well.

You live in the North and Northeast, and from day-to-day you exist on say, forty, sixty baht a day, or for you Westerners, one dollar twenty-four cents to one dollar eighty-six cents, or .80 to 1.21 British pounds a day...and when somebody throws the bone at you, you’re happy.

It worked.

Thaksin Shinawatra had the rural poor of the North and Northeast in his pocket. All the while, he was managing his satellite company, screwing other businessmen left and right, involved in international law suits, hiring the best lawyers, making astronomical profits and dodging taxes, until one day the Thai middle class, the Thai elite, got tired of it.

He began feeling like some sort of god. He decided he’d solve everything in the south, as the southern insurgency was an ongoing problem and it was beginning to glean International attention, something Thaksin didn’t want. So, he got the bright idea to head a campaign to fold up little origami peace swans.

Yeah, you heard me right. Little peace swans folded out of paper. Asian origami.

His idea spanned several months and covered a huge part of Thailand. I remember seeing a large table set up in the local mall in Hat Yai here in the south, with a group of girls manning (girling?) the table, taking donations and folding a swan in your name.

These peace swans were then collected in huge quantities, gathered into large plastic bags, placed on Royal Air Force cargo planes and ceremoniously dumped on the three provinces in the south, Patani, Yala, and Narathiwat, the Muslim strongholds demanding a free Patani state. The provinces of the Deep South where Muslim insurgents had been killing people for the past ten years or so.

I myself couldn’t believe what I was seeing. There was Thaksin on TV, smiling for the camera and writing a message on a paper peace swan, offering a free job and instant money to whomever should find it.

Gobs of these things, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of paper birds were scattered from these huge cargo planes onto the unsuspecting Muslims in the south.

Did that solve the southern insurgency?

Hell no.

Did anyone criticize Thaksin Shinawatra for this stupid, misguided plan?

Of course not.

Why? Well, it’s all about losing face.

You now, as a sort of afterthought, I never heard how that money was spent. You know, the money they collected for the paper peace swans. Not a word. Maybe it paid for the aviation fuel to fly those planes above the deep south...who knows. And you know, Thailand is polluted enough, without dumping millions of bits of paper on it from above, only adding to the trash.


You see, in Thailand, just like in other parts of the world really, money is power. If you have enough of it, you can do just about anything. And that’s precisely what Thaksin thought. He might have gotten away with it too, but too many of the Thai elite were watching him.

Western educated Thai’s.

Thai’s who didn’t care about whether Thaksin lost face or not.

So Thaksin boarded his private jet (another questionable expense that nobody said anything about), and zoomed off to show his smiling face to the Western world, to speak at the UN, to press flesh with the very people who could pump money into the governmental pockets of Thailand. And while he was gone, several influential men (and most likely a couple women) began plotting his demise back on Royal Thai soil.

The 2006 Thailand coup d'état took place on Tuesday, 19 September 2006 (I'd been living in Thailand for two years and two months), when the Royal Thai Army staged a coup d'état against the elected caretaker, Thaksin Shinawatra.

Shortly thereafter he went into self-appointed exile.

His holdings were frozen in various banks in Thailand, his home was placed under surveillance, and a warrant was placed for his arrest.

The reason? Abuse of power while in office.

His family skipped the country long before the coup d'état took place, stark evidence that this was no surprise to any of them.

The coup, luckily for Thailand, was a bloodless one. Nobody contested it, except for some rumblings in the North. Remember them? The Thai people in the North? The rural poor...

First Thaksin popped up in England.
He was seen waltzing around London, shopping, smiling for the camera with wife and kids in tow (That’s his dumb ass son in the background, wearing the blue t-shirt).

Then Hong Kong, where he ended up buying an expensive house in an even more expensive district, and well…so as not to bore you to death, to date I’ve lost count how many chalets, town houses, mansions, apartments, and houses this guy owns across the globe.

He began spouting his propaganda from afar. Talking to his rural base in the North of

Thailand via satellite phone. Telling them how terrible he felt; how much he missed being home. Urging his people to understand how mistreated he was.

This began ticking off the countries where he was pulling this crap off. He was still waltzing around with a diplomatic passport, one of those red thingies that allows you to go pretty much anywhere without worry of having to secure a visa. And he was flaunting his wealth by buying up the Manchester City football club, even though he had little experience in football, making things look like he was untouchable.

He lost all that.

He reached a point where he didn’t have enough money to manage the football club. So, he ended up selling it to some rich oil sheik from Saudi Arabia or some damn country in the middle east.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom tossed his butt right out the door, and said, “Never come back,” and other countries followed. The problems of Thaksin using these countries to spout his political garbage began annoying the Thai government, and the Thai government began complaining to their corresponding embassies ambassadors. It wasn’t long before governmental leaders around the world began feeling nervous when Thaksin was in town.

Thaksin began skipping around the globe, hiding out in ritzy hotels or staying in his ritzy chalets, apartments and mansions, hiring people to hook him up with the highest tech equipment available so he could communicate with his base…the rural poor in Thailand’s north and northeast.

He told them, “Hey! Look at me! Look what they’ve done to me! Pity me! I just want to return home!”

But, there was a major obstacle to his returning home. He felt someone would try to kill him.

Something that for the life of me I can’t understand…why it hadn’t happened earlier.

He was eventually guaranteed a safe passage back to Thailand and he did return. This was just prior to the Olympic Games in Beijing. Shortly after his arrival he was served with papers to appear in court for a hearing related to his abuse of power while in office, and his involvement in purchasing land for his wife at a reduced price due to his status as Prime Minister.

He lost that case, and was sentenced to two years in prison. But before he was turned over to the authorities, he asked the court if they would please grant him leniency and allow him and his family to attend the Olympic Games…that he’d be right back after that to serve his time.

Yeah, right.

Well, the idiots of the court granted him his little vacation, and as everyone suspected, after the Olympics were over, Thaksin Shinawatra and his family, were nowhere to be found, at least for the time being.

While he had been protected from losing face so many times, the rest of the country was losing face because of him.

He didn’t disappear. No, quite the opposite. He began popping up all over the world.

“Here I am! Nah, Nyah! You can’t get me!”

Then he began live broadcasts from several different countries, week after week, trying to fire up the rural poor, to tell them he’d been cheated. To prod them along and whip them into a frenzy to fight the one damn government in Thailand that was actually doing something. A government led by an Oxford educated young man who was even handsome and polite, and could speak to the International media without insulting them or his own country.

Somewhere in all this mess came the shocking (really?) news that Thaksin’s rather hot wife, Potjaman, divorced him. Some say it was only a strategic financial move. I say she got damn sick of his shit.

And so the rural poor donned red shirts, bandanas, head scarfs, and plastic clappers, and took to the streets to fight a battle for the man that threw the bones at them. They waved his picture around, hoisted banners proclaiming victory for him, and they even wore Thaksin Shinawatra masks.

Stupid, uneducated people.

Most are paid to show up in Bangkok. The money is coming from somewhere…can you guess where? Many showed up in their field tractors, pulling along a cart full of men, women, and kids, all decked out in red.

Another time and another color, it wasn’t long ago that the yellow people took over the International airport and brought Thailand to a standstill.

Mob rule.

Have you ever heard of it? It’s a psychological thing. People…stupid, uneducated people, get so caught up in the adrenaline rush of a mob. They begin doing things they’d never think of doing when at home. But, caught up in all the excitement of a red-shirted mob, they begin throwing things, donning shields, picking up weapons and fighting for a cause…trouble is, if you take ten of them and put them in ten separate rooms, then ask them the question, “Why are you doing this?” You’re going to get ten different answers.

But, if you have all ten of them together, ask one of them that question and allow him/her to answer so all can hear, then take the remaining nine into separate rooms, you’re going to get the same damn answer.

You see, very few of the red-shirt protesters know what they are doing or why they are doing it. Even some of the red-shirt leaders don’t have a clue. Tell them they are effectively managing to destroy the very country they love, and most will tell you they are there for a good cause and they are in hopes their good cause (which most of them cannot identify) will change the country for the better.

It’s been printed in Thailand’s Bangkok Post many times…

"Even if the prime minister bends to the red-shirt’s demands and dissolves parliament, it will not solve the problem. The country will remain polarized, and another protest will take the place of the last, even in the event a new election is called.”

What to do?

Anyone’s guess I suppose…

Comments appreciated!



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