Politique Diabolique Nov 20 2008
THE THAI THAT BINDS
The opposition booted him, but he isn’t letting go quite that easily.

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced today that he would not appeal his October conviction for facilitating crooked land deals. Thaksin was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to two years in jail for helping his then-wife Pojaman illegally purchase state-owned land. Thaksin’s résumé also includes suppressing news of a bird flu outbreak, causing more than 2,500 deaths during a crackdown on illegal drugs, and failing to declare all of his considerable wealth.

In 2006 his family sold shares in the Thai telecom group Shin Corp and netted a cool €1.9 billion. It angered many Thais that he sold a national resource to interests in Singapore, and the populace were also well aware that he had avoided paying taxes. As a result, protests erupted, prompting Thaksin to call a snap general election, which opposition parties boycotted. Faced with the threat of nationwide turmoil, he stepped down, then unretired a few weeks later. In May 2006 he was definitively re-retired—by coup d’etat.

Being stripped of power hasn’t exactly left Thaksin incapacitated with shame in a spider hole. He possesses a multi-billion euro fortune, which would tend to cushion most any blow. And he also owns English Premier League side Manchester City. Yet Thaksin still craves power, which means he isn’t about to let a coup and a criminal conviction derail him. He recently announced from Dubai, where he lives in exile, that he plans to launch a political comeback.

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