Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thaksin Shinawatra - Rich Businessmen Should Never Play Politics.

In his post-verdict message to his family and supporters, Thaksin Shinawatra attacked everyone and everything he thought had conspired against him. But he was right on one thing - rich businessmen should never play politics. Even though his warning to fellow business people sounded sarcastic, the punch line was spot-on.

For rich businessmen who might be contemplating entering politics like him in order to help the country, Thaksin asked them to think carefully before taking such a step. "If you are a businessman, think hard if you are tempted to play politics," he said.

"Let me be the last victim," he said through a video link, which brought more tears to many supporters' eyes. And how we wish the same. Let him be the last victim. Whether Thai politics was "mean" as claimed by the ousted leader or not, his entry into politics had made things too complicated for an immature democracy. Thailand simply can't take more of the kind of consequences that followed Thaksin's attempt to wear two hats at the same time.

The Supreme Court spelled out how Thaksin's actions as prime minister helped his business empire. It doesn't matter whether he intended to abuse his power or not. His government's policies and actions and his telecom empire's frequent attempts to seek state leniency or assistance were too intertwined to be ignored. It would have largely helped had Thaksin chosen to stay purely on the business side, or really given up the empire instead of superficially transferring ownership to his children.

The ambiguous share transfers and Shin Corp's repeated adjustments of concession terms, either through its own initiatives or the government's, set Thaksin up for the misery that he bemoaned. If Thaksin was right about Thailand's political "immaturity", he himself contributed greatly to an unhealthy atmosphere. The more immature Thailand is politically, with the elite and military opportunists allegedly always lurking just beneath the surface, the more we need politicians to behave themselves, and big businessmen like Thaksin to provide "help" strictly on the sidelines.

There are other ways to "help" the nation. By paying taxes to begin with. Billions of baht in paid taxes can go a long way to changing many poor people's lives. Rich businessmen don't need to get too ambitious or too patriotic. Just paying all the taxes they are required to pay will do.

Thaksin said sorry to his family, but he didn't say sorry to the nation, apparently because he didn't think he had done anything wrong besides being too stubborn in his "ambition" to serve the country. He must have known the laws as well as the 1997 Constitution, which sought to prevent big businessmen like him from getting into politics, but he had chosen to sneak in, and the rest is history.

Thaksin, after the court verdict, complained that Thailand's justice system picked on him. That has been the excuse he and his apologists have been using all along. Everyone cheats on taxes, they say. Everyone hides something illegally somewhere, more or less. Everyone tries to find legal loopholes and exploit them.

That's true. Many people have been doing what Thaksin and his family did, albeit on diffrent scales. There is one big difference, though. "Everyone" is not prime minister. Thaksin was. "Everyone" is cheating on taxes as businessmen or as office workers and the law is probably discriminatory when it comes to dealing with them. Of course, Thaksin was picked on, but he was "picked on" because he was prime minister. And he has been unable to give us a convincing reason why prime ministers should not be picked on when it comes to this kind of legal and moral problems.

Why is picking on prime ministers over matters like this bad for Thailand? One may say look around and see what has been happening to this country ever since Thaksin was picked on. Again, it's true that the past few years have been miserable, but the question to ask is whether it was miserable because Thaksin was picked on, or because he chose to be in the wrong place and so stubbornly refused to admit it.


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

rich businessmen should never enter politics, become PM and become even much more richer ! Greedy and hypocratic rich businessmen still claiming they enetered politics they want to serve their country and people. NO SHAME !

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Anonymous said...

Every Third World country has enough wealth for the needs of every citizen. But they do not have sufficient wealth to satisfy the greed of 0ne Man.Thaksin and many leaders like him scattered all over the Third World have effectively brought their countries to its knees and they have the gall to say that they have done nothing wrong.The problem is so large that the couts do not have the time to try each and every one of them. Only devine justice will solve the problem.Ramalx