Pattaya Daily News

29 December 2008 :: 19:12:21 pm 5991

Strong Forces Afoot to Stymie Thaksin

Thaksin and his wife sought exile in the UK after the KorMorChor coup deposed him, thinking apparently that he could act with impunity and nothing would happen to him. He and his wife are rumoured to have taken billions of dollars of corruption money with them. Yet many believed the relatively lenient UK asylum standards as regards repatriating those exiled in UK for political reasons, would definitely favour Thaksin.
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However, Thaksin’s habit of controlling Thailand’s political arena behind the scenes from a secure UK base, put his safe refuge in jeopardy because it obviously put the UK into an uncomfortable position vis a vis Thailand . Some observers are of the opinion that this was one of the reasons behind the UK’s revocation of Thaksin’s UK residence visa. It is also rumoured that both the UK and Switzerland had frozen Thaksin’s assets in those countries.

Thaksin, however, glossing over his embarrassment of the UK authorities, maintained that it was in fact “Business Interests” that resulted in him losing face and favour in the UK. One might ask why it was that when a Russian billionaire sought exile in the UK after fighting with Putin, and the Russian government pulled out all the stops to have him repatriated, the UK were resolute in their refusal, yet when Thai billionaire, Thaksin, sought refuge in the UK, the UK relatively soon after cancelled his visa and froze his assets.

According to Thaksin, the UK was more interested in its business interests overseas, and especially in Thailand, than supporting fallen leaders. The UK business interests are among the largest foreign assets in Thailand, worth many US$ billion, with 24 supercentres in Bangkok, 31 supercentres upcountry, 14 markets, 15 value stores and 189 express stores with more continuing to be built.

However, in counterpoint to these mammoth UK business interests, are those of hundreds of thousands of small Thai retail stores whose livelihoods are threatened by the UK’s continual business expansion. It’s interesting to note that hardly had the Thai Democratic Party secured control of the country by gaining the premiership for PM Abhisit Vejjajiva than moves were put in motion to curtail the uncontrolled expansion of British business interests in the country.

At the same time, with PM Abhisit’s strong British background and affiliations, it would appear that Britain is keen to exploit the ties that exist between the new premier and the UK. Evidence for this is that the British ambassador to Thailand visited Mr Abhisit both before and after he became PM.

PM Abhisit is caught between the power play of two vested interest groups, however. On the one hand, the British government, and on the other the “champions” of the small Thai retail stores, namely the Sahapat Group. Their championship of the small retailer is hardly from altruistic motives, however, the fact is that the Sahapat Group, being the main wholesalers to the Thai retailers, is being severely affected by the small retailers sourcing their goods from the superstores because of their relative cheapness compared to Sahapat. The Sahapat Group is also staunchly royalist and has funded both the Thai Democrat Party and the PAD, who, incidentally, have also traditionally acted as the champions of the small retailer.

Regardless of this conflict of interest, however, it would appear that PM Abhisit is most definitely using his UK connections to stymie Thaksin as it was shortly after the first reported meeting between the UK ambassador to Thailand and Mr Abhisit that news of Thaksin assets being frozen became public and almost immediately after Thaksin’s UK visa was cancelled. Co-incidence? Highly unlikely, one is tempted to conclude.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Editorial

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