Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thaksin in exile still meddling, avoiding prison, and sniggering.

Was fascinated to read the following BBC report online. Convicted of corruption, Thaksin continues to live the high life in exile. He even has the arrogance to meddle in Thai politics at the same time. Sticking two fingers up at his victorious opponents in Thailand, for the time being he is able to evade his prison cell in Thailand. But for how long?

I ask myself if the curious case of Thaksin Shinawatra illustrates the old adage 'Absolute power corrupts absolutley', or does it simply show us how the human ego crashes and burns, but goes down fighting nonetheless.

Here is the BBC article:

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has offered talks with the current Thai leadership and says he wants to bury the hatchet.

Speaking by videolink from Dubai to Hong Kong, Mr Thaksin joked about his frozen financial assets and claimed to be at home anywhere in the world.

But he also hinted at the difficulties of being in exile.

He was ousted by the military in 2006, and sentenced in absentia to two years in jail for corruption.

His allies won the most votes in the only election since the coup, but months of political deadlock followed, with anti-government protesters at one point occupying Bangkok airport.

Several ruling party lawmakers were then banned for electoral fraud and others defected, allowing the opposition Democrat Party to form a governing coalition. But deep divisions remain.

Conciliatory?

In a sign of the delicate situation Mr Thaksin now finds himself in, his talk to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Hong Kong had to take place by videolink from Dubai.

The former prime minister said he did not want to upset any relationships - a reference to Thai threats to ask Beijing to extradite him.


He said he knew he would be safe in Hong Kong, which has a separate judiciary from China and no extradition treaty with Thailand. But it was better not to annoy anyone, he said.

The once all-powerful man was also more conciliatory towards his foes, although his offer of talks to end the political struggle in his country is unlikely to be trusted.

"Yes, I wish to see my country back to normal, not to be divisive like this," he said. "But if you want to clap hands, you need both hands to come together, not one hand.

"So both sides have to come to an agreement ... I would like to urge every party to bury the hatchet and come together."

The power struggle had been won, he said, and those in power should continue to run the country.

But in a hint it might not be that simple, he went on to say he did not think "the people in Thailand will ever give up because they love democracy".

"Bring back the democracy, bring back [the] rule of law under [the] framework of democracy, that finishes everything. And I want to help. I'm ready to help," he said.

He also insisted he had done nothing wrong and that the jail sentence issued against him was unjust.

Frozen assets

His speech focused on his view that new regulations were needed in the world financial system.

Of greater interest to the capacity crowd in Hong Kong was his joke about his own finances.

"I don't know whether I should condemn or thank the military junta that they frozen my assets in Thailand," he said.

"Otherwise I [would] probably invest a lot in the stock exchange and ... it melt down already. But they keep it for me. I have to [give] thanks [for] that," he said, prompting laughter.

The world was his home, he claimed, but at another point said sadly that no-one wanted to talk to him because they were scared of what he called the dictatorship in Thailand.

Then he laughed quickly to cover up the admission.

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