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Thaksin fights tooth and nail to retain media favour and family assets

Updated On: May 08, 2007

Deposed Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, seems to be winning the battle against his usurpers.

While violence continues unabated in the South, and Bangkok suffers another minor bomb scare, Thai authorities, especially the Council of National Security (CNS), seem more concerned about Thaksin than Thai security.  The scathing response from coup leader and CNS head, Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin, about Thaksin’s appointment as president of the Professional Golf Association of Thailand last week spoke volumes, as was the public relations campaign to counter Thaksin’s advances.

The Bangkok Post is disapproving of the Thai authorities’ obsession with the ousted premier. In another recent commentary, the paper criticized that “the government and the Council for National Security appear to have unnecessarily attached too much importance to… Thaksin Shinawatra. This is clearly apparent in the way Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont and CNS chairman General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin have responded to almost every venomous criticism made against the government or the military junta by Mr Thaksin himself or through his lawyer in Bangkok, or his expensively-employed firm of American lobbyists”.

It added that “living in exile with a huge fortune that is beyond the wildest dreams of most people, Thaksin can afford the most expensive and the best… public relations agency in the world to fulfil his wishes; one of which is to keep alive the hope in him of his millions of supporters back home. In comparison, the cash-strapped Surayud government does not have the luxury of money to spend…it is questionable whether these “chicken feed” fees to be dispensed [for the PR blitz] will bring about good service”. The Bangkok Post reiterated that “the Surayud administration has far more important and urgent things to deal with, chief among them being the economic slowdown, than to get overly obsessed with Thaksin, who should be written off as history”.

After the recent Abac Poll by Assumption University which found that “76% of respondents say they are willing to give the Surayud government more time to work for the country”, the Bangkok Post cautioned Surayud not to listen only to the good news but also work harder at the pressing issues on hand.

Meanwhile, Thaksin is not taking the blows from the Thai authorities lying down. He is exploiting the Thai media’s fascination with his activities and coming up with apparent hoaxes. The Bangkok Post noted that “with escalating political jitters as judgment day for the Thai Rak Thai and Democrat parties draws near, coupled with growing protests against the government, the Council for National Security and the draft constitution, we can expect to witness more hoaxes from Mr Thaksin's propaganda machine”.

Thaksin is also fighting to retain his assets, especially with regard to the potential seizure by the Asset Examination Committee (AEC) of the Ratchadaphisek plot bought by Thaksin's wife Khunying Pojaman Shinawatra from the Financial Institution Development Fund. Their lawyer, Noppadon Pattama, said, “We won't allow the assets to be seized. We will use the courts to fight to the end.” Additionally, the family is going to contest the AEC’s “tax action against Panthongthae and Pinthongta Shinawatra”, even up to the Supreme Court if necessary. Noppadol expressed the Shinawatra family view that “the AEC has no authority to conduct tax appraisals [as] only the Revenue Department is empowered to do so. (7 May 2007)

Sources:

Surayud must not listen to only good polls (Bangkok Post, 7 May 2007)

Thaksin keeps his face in the news (Bangkok Post, 7 May 2007)

Thaksin ends PR contract amid flak (Nation, 7 May 2007)

Thaksin to 'fight hard' to keep hold of his assets (Nation, 7 May 2007)

Chaturon blames coup for economic slump (Nation, 6 May 2007)

Shinawatra siblings to fight ruling all the way (Nation, 6 May 2007)

TRT tees up raft of constitution-change proposals (Nation, 6 May 2007)

Chuan on Abhisit, Surayud and the danger of ignoring Thaksin (Nation, 4 May 2007)

Thaksin still on govt's mind (Bangkok Post, 3 May 2007)