[Marxism] Thailand: Smells like a coup, tastes like a coup, looks like a coup

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed May 21 19:38:11 MDT 2014

On 5/21/14 8:24 PM, Stuart Munckton wrote:
> At the same time Thaskin, was almost certainly very corrupt and
> responsible for human rights abuses -- but there is nothing new or unique
> in that, and that is not the basis for his support.

Yeah, well, Giles Ji Ungpakorn doesn't think that corruption was a 
problem: "People were very angry with the way that the courts seized 
Thaksin's wealth. And to be honest, the corruption charges against him 
haven't really been proved. In that sense, people are justified to be 
angry." (https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/43625)

When I read this sort of thing, I have to wonder how people take him 
seriously. I mean, for christ's sake, how else does a Thai become a 
billionaire except through the sort of practices found throughout East Asia?

In terms of the farmers in the North, not everything is so rosy as you 
would be led to believe from Giles. This is from February 2014:


A separate protest by rice farmers at her temporary office demanding 
payment for rice could turn out to be more damaging for Yingluck.

Rural voters swept her to power in 2011, when her Puea Thai Party 
pledged to pay rice farmers way above market prices for their harvest. 
But the programme has run into funding problems and some farmers have 
not been paid for months.

“The prime minister is well off but we are not. How are we going to feed 
our children? I want her to think about us,” said one protesting farmer. 
“Farmers are tough people, they wouldn’t normally speak out but they are 
at the end of their tether.”

Farmers’ representatives later met ministers, but when Finance Minister 
Kittirat Na Ranong came out to speak to the crowd he was pelted with 
plastic bottles.


You can find rapturous praise for the Thaksin clan from Andre Vltchek, 
the same guy who is a diehard Putin supporter. This is typical:

"Government buildings are being trashed, ransacked. It is happening in 
Kiev and Bangkok, and in both cities, the governments appear to be 
toothless, too scared to intervene.

"What is going on? Are popularly elected administrations all over the 
world becoming irrelevant; as the Western regime creates and then 
supports thuggish ‘opposition movements’ designed to destabilize any 
state that stands in the way of its desire to fully control the planet?"


For an alternative to the Vltchek and Ungpakorn take on things, I 
recommend Michael Pirsch's articles in Truthout, especially this one 
that hones in on the Vltchek article:

Vltchek goes on to describe Thaksin as committing "the most unforgivable 
crime in the eyes of the Thai elites: Some years back he actually 
attempted to convert Thailand from a backwards feudal nation, into some 
sort of modern capitalist state"; "Mr. Shinawatra was not an angel and 
when he was in power, I criticized him on several occasions. ... And so 
they forced Mr. Shinawatra out from office, from Thailand, and in the 
end they massacred those that demanded his return."

At this point I will pause and explain why Thaksin was "forced ... out 
from office, from Thailand." I will also discuss Vltchek's point that 
"in the end they massacred those that demanded his return."

Thaksin was removed from office in 2006 by a military coup conducted 
while Thaksin was in New York preparing to give a speech at the opening 
session of the United Nations. The night before, Thaksin paid tribute to 
the masters of United States foreign and domestic policy, the Council of 
Foreign Relations. He was there in his capacity as a vital cog in the 
neoliberal policies of creating global corporate government. The coup 
was conducted following large-scale protests against Thaksin's 
autocratic rule during which he implemented many policies solely to 
benefit corporations in which he was the major shareholder. The last 
straw came when he sold his telecommunications firm to a Singaporean 
entity for several billion dollars. Two days before the deal was 
finalized, Thai laws limiting foreign ownership of Thai corporations 
were changed to increase that limit to 49 percent. Furthermore, Thaksin 
also arranged to have a capital gains tax precedent removed so the deal 
would not be subject to any Thai taxes. Yes, the Thai prime minister, 
patron saint of populist policies, arranged not to pay more than $400 
million in taxes. He did not share any of this with the poor in 
Thailand. This "last straw" followed a long train of abuses while he was 
prime minister. One Thai politician admitted there was corruption in 
Thai politics for a long time. He said, "Taking a bite out of the apple 
is expected among politicians, but Thaksin put a fence around the apple 
tree for himself only."


More information about the Marxism mailing list