- Posted December 20, 2013 by
WHAT IS THAKSIN REGIME?
By Harirak Sutabutr
Suthep Thaugsuban discarded his last card and announced that everyone must choose one side or the other because Monday, Dec 9, 2013 was set as the decisive day for those who were still ambivalent and unable to choose. It may have been because they were unsure what Thaksin regime Suthep and all the leaders wanting to overthrow was.
Thaksin regime is not a regime with philosophical principles or a system conscientiously designed. It is a regime born out of evolution with the goal geared towards coming into the country’s administrative power, or in other words, becoming a government.
To understand the Thaksin regime, we probably have to look back at Thaksin Shinawatra’s path onto political stage. He was a police officer and at the same time was also doing his own business along side. Money making business for Thaksin at the time was as IBM representative to bid and sell its mainframe computer system to various government agencies. His other businesses such as cinemas and real estates were not successful. They led to huge debts until he got Phone Link and 900 megahertz mobile phone networks. Those were quasi-monopoly business through state contracts. The mobile phone business was a business that made him rich rapidly.
During the government of Chatichai Choonhavan, Thaksin still had close ties with Chalerm Yubamrung who was the minister of the Office of the Prime Minister. Chalerm oversaw Communication Organization of Thailand at the time while Thaksin was lobbying for the right to do cable TV business with plans for a joint venture with a foreign company. However, there were problems later on and the company filed fraud litigation against him. It is not clear if the case has been finalized.
During Anand Panyarachun’s or the National Peace Keeping government, Thaksin bid and won satellite concession which was 100% monopoly. It was like his business had wings and it made him 100 billion baht in just a few years. It is evident that Thaksin’s businesses that were successful were all those required lobbying state agencies so we can say he has been a lobbyist with the government from the time he began doing business.
In 1994 during Chuan Leekpai’s government and through the invitation of Maj. Gen Chamlong Srimuang and Sudarat Keyuraphan of Palang Dharma Party—part of the coalition government parties, Thaksin became a foreign minister. He later replaced Maj. Gen. Chamlong as the party leader and became a Deputy Prime Minister during Banharn Silpa-archa’s and Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh’s governments. He declared he would solve Bangkok’s traffic congestion problems in 6 months but he failed and never talked about that again. It was during that time when there were rumors that Thaksin conspired to devalue the baht and made enormous benefit. He left Palang Dharma Party after that.
In 1998, Thaksin founded Thai Rak Thai and declared that it would be a party with only good politicians from new generation. He set up a committee to scrutinize to-be Thai Rak Thai party’s affiliates with Dr. Kanit Na Nakorn as chairman to ensure that. However, he brought in Sanoh Thienthong of Wang Nam Yen group causing Dr. Kanit to resign from the party. After that, he began to buy those he was confident would be elected into his party. Eventually, he merged Kwam Wang Mai and Chart Pattana parties into Thai Rak Thai. This was entirely contrary to the declared aspirations.
Thaksin did not only buy candidates and parties but also had a top marketing team led by Dr. Somkid Jatusripitak so Thai Rak Thai was able to discover the real needs of the grassroots other parties did not take interest in. He used something to their liking called populist policies as his campaign to gain party-list votes but never cared whether those policies would have adverse effects in the long run or not.
In any case, buying candidates and parties along with having populist policies won Thai Rak Thai an election by a landslide as a result. He got to form a government and eventually became a prime minister.
A stock concealing case almost cost Thaksin his premiership and it was a lesson for him to make every effort to have his own people sit in those independent entities that could help or harm him, such as the National Counter-Corruption Commission, Election Commission, and others, etc. If he could send his people in, he would be able to dominate the Senate so it was not surprising to see those senators mostly appearing to follow Thaksin’s commands were elected ones. Aside from that, to benefit his businesses he claimed to have sold to his children and to be conducive to his corruption, he must also dominate various government enterprises and public companies with Finance Ministry as major shareholders, such as the Communications Authority of Thailand, Thai Airways, and Petroleum Authority of Thailand, etc.
It is evident that Thaksin’s political operations needed enormous amount of money to win elections. For example, money was needed to buy candidates and parties, pay for each candidate’s campaign and vote rigging, and pay their monthly salary. Thaksin probably did not use his own money for those expenses and if he did, he must get his payback so he had to continuously bring money in. There were three methods to make money including corruption directly through various government projects; corruption at policy level and amending laws and regulations to his benefit that was worse than the first method; and the third was selling ministry posts to businessmen with deep pockets. It was said that no less than 200 million baht must be paid for a ministry post.
From all the aforementioned information, Thaksin regime is a regime that has evolved from Thaksin wanting to be a prime minister and it became clear later on this was certainly not for the country. Farmers and the grassroots benefited from Thaksin because he wanted their votes. Once he became a prime minister, he developed his network and various different means to stay in power as long as possible. Ethical and moral principles were not taken into account in those methods whatsoever. If the methods used were unlawful, he used the majority to change those laws so he could do it.
Characteristics of Thaksin regime can be concluded as follows:
1. Do whatever it takes to get a majority in every election including buying candidates, parties, and votes; and threatening those who will not comply.
2. Set policies to gain votes without regard to adverse effects they have on the country both in the short and long terms. The strategy is to focus on the majority of the people.
3. Build an image with the majority of people with no attention paid to what the educated minority would think.
4. Use power to make the most money in every way; and use the money to gain and retain power as long as possible.
5. Control legislative mechanisms to obtain a majority in both Houses.
6. Control all existing checks and balances mechanisms so he and his affiliated cannot be prosecuted.
7. Control the police and the military so they follow his commands by setting his own people into as many positions as possible that control those forces.
8. Control all existing for-profit state enterprises by designating his allies or individuals willing to accept his orders as executives. Once he is able to control those executives, he can establish his own CEOs so he can obtain real command power and centralization solely under him.
9. If he cannot be in position of power, he pushes someone he can order and trust, such as his younger brother-in-law or his younger sister, to that position instead without having his party chairman as the prime minister.
10. Selecting people into political offices is primarily on the basis of a quota, reward system and obedience. Suitable ability is secondary. Appoint government officials into key positions such as permanent secretaries, deputy permanent secretaries, and directors using the same prin