This week, more charges were filed against ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra by the Assets Examination Committee (AEC) for holding Shin Corp shares through company nominees Ample Rich and Win Mark while in office.
This comes after last week’s requests by the AEC for further investigation and freezing of Thaksin’s overseas assets.
The AEC has apparently “found that the Bt8.6 billion the Shinawatra family transferred out of the country included Bt485 million paid to Win Mark on October 27, 2003; Bt3.5 billion that Win Mark earned from selling Shin Corp shares from small investors before selling to Temasek; and Shin Corp's dividend of Bt1.7 billion was deposited with UBS Singapore”. An especially incriminating piece of evidence has been a corporate certificate submitted to UBS which certified that “any withdrawal is to be authorised by Dr. T. SHINAWATRA solely”.
However, Thaksin’s lawyer, Noppadon Pattama, disputes these allegations and slammed the AEC, saying, “[It] is distorting the facts and politically harassing Thaksin.” Nonetheless, it seems almost a certainty that Thaksin will be nailed. Already people have been comparing him to the former Philippinespresident Joseph Estrada who has been sentenced to life imprisonment for corruption this week. Veera Somkwamkid, secretary-general of the People's Network Against Corruption, said that the Thai Supreme Court “had already demonstrated that it worked faster than the Filipino court, which took about six years to produce [Estrada’s] verdict”. To proceed with the prosecution of Thaksin, Thai officials said that they planned to fly to Britain for talks to seek the extradition of Thaksin.
Another hot issue in Thai politics is the upcoming elections. Another new party calling itself Pua Paendin (For the Motherland) Party has been organized by a group of more than 200 veteran Thai politicians, including members of the former Thai Rak Thai (TRT) Party. Former foreign minister Surakiart Sathirathai, claimed the party’s neutrality, saying, “Our stance is to be nobody's enemy.”
In addition, Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin has finally revealed his next political steps. Army sources have announced that “he will not run in the forthcoming general election” after retirement from the army. However, he shall remain chairman of the Council for National Security (CNS) and has condescended to “keep himself available for a cabinet post… as deputy prime minister or defence minister upon request”. This will enable him to win his political spurs “before contesting future elections to vie for the prime ministership”.
It may be disappointing for these “new kids on the political block” to hear that many Thais actually prefer the Democrat Party to take cabinet after the elections. A recent BangkokUniversitypoll showed that a significant 43% of respondents would like the Democratic Party to form the government. The People’s Power Party (PPP) comprising pro-Thaksin advocates is second choice with 20.7%.
As for last week’s furore over EU’s application to be an election monitor, the debate has ended. The Thai Election Commission has “resolved unanimously not to sign the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the European Union on the establishment of the European Observers Mission (EOM) to monitor the December general election”. This decision is without prejudice to Thai-EU bilateral relations. (14 September 2007)
Thai officials to fly to Britain for talks on Thaksin (Straits Times, 14 September 2007)
Thaksin shown to own firm while PM (Nation, 13 September 2007)
Thaksin cases 'will not take as long' (Bangkok Post, 13 September 2007)
Poll agency decides not to permit EU observers (Bangkok Post, 12 September 2007）
Third-party alternative (Bangkok Post, 12 September 2007）
It's harassment, Thaksin's lawyer claims (Nation, 12 September 2007)
Sonthi 'won't run in election' (Bangkok Post, 12 September 2007）
Thais Want Democrats to Form Government (Angus Reid Global Monitor, 11 September 2007)