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Thaksin - Exiled In Dubai – But Still He Dreams Of Thailand

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Thaksin Shinawatra: Exiled in Dubai – but still he dreams of Thailand

The Monday Interview: Ousted in a bloodless coup in 2006, the former PM is desperate to regain power – for his sister. Andrew Buncombe met him

Would you you like some durian?" A smile flashes across the face of Thaksin Shinawatra as he thinks of the notorious Asian fruit, famed for both its sweet taste and wrenchingly rotten smell. The former Thai prime minister has already served steamed pork balls, coconut noodles with green onion and a prawn and minced-pork curry, but he is adamant the meal will not be complete without this addition. He calls for one – thankfully it is not too ripe – and he appears content. "I always say the best Thai restaurant in Dubai is my home," he chuckles.

The business tycoon and former owner of Manchester City football club is perhaps the world's most famous political exile. Since being ousted from office in a bloodless coup in 2006, he has lived a peripatetic lifestyle, travelling the globe in his Bombardier Global Express jet in search of safe havens to continue his business operations and rally his supporters in Thailand. He has spent periods in Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Brunei, the UK (where he complained he could not find a decent barber), Nicaragua, Montenegro and Cambodia.

Two-and-half years ago he decided to base himself in Dubai, where he lives in a comfortable villa, set on a private compound looking out to a lake and a golf course. Two luxury cars sit in his driveway, a Lexus LS 600h L and a gleaming black Jaguar, and he says he has flown 750 hours in the last 10 months. He admits he remains a billionaire.

Now, the 61-year-old is to once again be thrust centre stage in Thailand's bitter political turmoil as the party he controls from overseas, Pheu Thai (PT), launches an election campaign before a vote on 3 July. Thaksin has appointed an inexperienced but photogenic younger sister, Yingluck, as the party's prime ministerial candidate. A number of polls give PT an edge as it battles to beat the incumbent, Abhisit Vejjajiva, and his Democrat Party, but most observers say the outcome remains uncertain. The behaviour of the army, which has seized power on 18 occasions since the 1930s, will be crucial

"I think it looks very good. The popularity of the party and Yingluck is getting more and more," says Thaksin, as he voices concern that his opponents may try and undermine any PT victory by other means. "Even though we are the opposition, we still have the highest number of MPs in parliament. That's why they're scared, [why] they might use the same tricks. But if [our opponents] were to do it again, it would mean that they don't care [about] the world. They don't care [about] democracy in Thailand."

Thaksin remains a deeply divisive figure. He has widespread support among the rural and urban poor, especially in Thailand's north and north-east, who benefited from a series of populist measures he introduced between 2001-2006. Last year, his Red Shirts supporters filled the streets of Bangkok for many weeks as they demanded parliament be dissolved. But among the urban middle-classes and the political and business elite, he is often despised. Having been convicted in absentia of corruption in 2009 over a series of measures he took while in office which the country's highest court said benefited his extended family, £900m of his assets were seized and his passport was revoked, forcing him to obtain alternatives from Nicaragua and Montenegro. Many consider him nothing less than a fugitive from justice.

During his time as premier, the telecommunications tycoon also faced criticism from human rights campaigners, particularly for military operations in the "war on drugs", in which hundreds of civilian and dissidents were said to have been summarily executed, and for shutting down of critical journalists. In one incident at Tak Bai in October 2004, 78 men were suffocated and crushed to death after being loaded into the back of army trucks.

In the summer of 2007, when Thaksin bought Manchester City, a team whose fortunes he says he still follows, Human Rights Watch described him as a "human rights abuser of the worst kind".

Thaksin insists he is seeking reconciliation. Even though his supporters earlier this year filed an application at the International Criminal Court in The Hague seeking to have Mr Abhisit charged with crimes against humanity, he says the PT is ready to reach out to its opponents. "PT offers reconciliation. Even though we are the victims of this bullying, we offer this... if we win, we offer reconciliation. We don't want revenge," he says, sitting in a drawing room containing photographs of himself and various world leaders. "We don't want the country to be back down any more. We want the people to be back to normal life, we want the economy to progress. We want the country to move forward."

At the same time, particularly after the example of the protesters involved in the Arab spring, he doubts his supporters would sit back quietly if a fairly elected PT government was not allowed to take office. (After he was ousted, two subsequent allies who became PM were forced from office by the courts, over what supporters say were politically motivated allegations.) He believes the wider world would also not tolerate more violence. He has called for international observers to participate in the polls.

"There has to be a reason. They cannot just say we don't want you to become the government," he tells The Independent and another international newspaper. "If [our opponents] were to do something unethical, unlawful, it's not good for them, not good for the country, not good for the people... I really urge them to let things go according to what we call... democracy." [more...]

Article continues: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/thaksin-shinawatra-exiled-in-dubai-ndash-but-still-he-dreams-of-thailand-2290805.html

-- independent.co.uk 2011-05-30

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Good article - outlines the duplicitous nature of K Thaksin. He doesnt want an amnesty - he wants his crimes expunged so that he can carry on his reign of terror. "What reign of terror?" the one which murdered 2700 people in his war on drugs and opponents. Not to mention being the mastermind behind the terrorism in Bangkok last year from the blackshirts to the idea of moving to Rachaprasong. There are enough charges and there is enough evidence against K Thaksin to convict him in any forward thinking western country. THAT is why he wants an amnesty!! "amnesty, amnesty forgive everybody - but ME first"!! The biggest step backwards would be for him to return to Thailand as its leader!!

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... as he thinks of the notorious Asian fruit, famed for both its sweet taste and wrenchingly rotten smell.

I guess "wrenchingly" is in the nose of the beholder. I like durian and I like Stilton cheese, but when it comes to odoriferousness, Stilton is certainly the wrenchingly-er... or maybe that's "the more wrenchingly."

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Really bizarre in that the sister of a man that was happy to sponsor and burn down, destroy, loot, incite violence, can be so popular. There very well may be no other country on planet earth where something like this could happen. Truly amazing, but in the end the people will get the leadership they deserve.

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Good article - outlines the duplicitous nature of K Thaksin.

the good news ,

if thaksinn returns to power ,

the baht will de-value .

GBP 55 bht .

welcome back .MR THAKSIN.

:jap:

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Nothing clouds this issue more than the military involvement behind the coup which ousted Thaksin; the Thai military remains the biggest hurdle to democracy. When he says "I really urge them to let things go according to what we call... democracy" in fact this political reconciliation Thaksin claims to want could be achieved without his party's silly campaign for an amnesty.

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Really bizarre in that the sister of a man that was happy to sponsor and burn down, destroy, loot, incite violence, can be so popular. There very well may be no other country on planet earth where something like this could happen. Truly amazing, but in the end the people will get the leadership they deserve.

I like your quote, but the last part, 'get the leadership they deserve', is a bit scary to me!!!! I was wondering what kind of leadership do they deserve? Or what is the leadership they need? But I 100% agree, leadership by Thaksin is no leadership for anyone, no matter what happened in the past!

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Really bizarre in that the sister of a man that was happy to sponsor and burn down, destroy, loot, incite violence, can be so popular. There very well may be no other country on planet earth where something like this could happen. Truly amazing, but in the end the people will get the leadership they deserve.

Quite true but when you have a country so utterly corrupt that people will sell their vote for a bottle of cheap home made whisky you truly have no chance. Thais may moan about their lot in life but their inability to see past the end of their nose or more accurately past any free or easy money given to them will ensure their remain slaves to the masters who temporarily line their pockets.

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Really bizarre in that the sister of a man that was happy to sponsor and burn down, destroy, loot, incite violence, can be so popular. There very well may be no other country on planet earth where something like this could happen. Truly amazing, but in the end the people will get the leadership they deserve.

I saw her campaigning this morning and no one even bothered to look at her or wave back to her, which is contrary to what I've been reading in the papers.

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He is not in exile, he is a criminal on the run from the law. There is a difference.

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what is a Peripatetic Lifestyle mean?

It means he moves around a bit.

Fugitives on the run from the law usually do.

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BANGKOK 25 November 2017 06:52
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