Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Double Standards Thailand

Why is it that Thaksin's wealth & financial affairs have been thoroughly investigated, studied, even had books written about, yet the question of how various Generals (including Privy Councillors like Surayud) obtained their wealth is just swept under the carpet?

In fact, Thaksin's financial dealings have been so thoroughly investigated that the only way his enemies can get him is by spurious or overly technical nitpicking type legal arguments.

It astounds me that a prima facie case can clearly be made against the Generals just by a simple calculation of their wealth compared to their salaries, yet they are left alone - a protected species!

On the other hand we have Thaksin: How he got his wealth is well documented (including a little help from a certain General:)
He was already fabulously wealthy before he became PM, and does not appear to have increased that wealth during his term in office by any more than similarly wealthy peoples fortunes increased during the same time.

If there really was a benefit gained from policy corruption under Thaksin, then the prosecutors need to show not just a loss to the state, but they need to show where the money has gone.
To my mind, something just doesn't add up between Thaksins assets from before becoming PM to after he was ousted. The only conclusions I can draw are either that there was no actual benefit from the policy corruption, or a lot of his wealth had already been squirreled away before he was ousted.

Prima facie there seems to be no case against Thaksin, and a clear case against the wealthy Generals - thats a double standard in my book!

Other clear examples of double standards are:

- TRT & PPP get dissolved, while The Democrats evade punishment for what appear to be much worse corruption deals, and they even got all manner of outside help to form a government!

- PAD/yellows invade/occupy an international airport and the leaders are still roaming free after refusing to acknowledge any charges against them, and have even formed a political party (yet when the UDD/reds merely mention they will hold a rally, the Internal Seturity Act gets invoked, or threatened to be invoked)

- Sondhi Limthongkul and other PAD/yellow leaders are free (encouraged even) to make hateful speeches, drag the monarchy into politics, and almost start a war with a neighbouring country, yet others like Darunee Charnchoensilpakul, Suwicha Thakor & Boonyuen Prasertying are locked up for years, and they and their families forced to endure great hardships all because they spoke their minds, wanting a free & fair country for all Thai's.

- The 2003 'war on drugs' resulted in many extra-judicial killings, and Thaksin was heavily involved in its implementation. Like Thaksin and others, I hate drugs, but I could never set myself up as judge, jury & executioner. The fact that nothing has come from any of the investigations into the war on drugs is another double standard, although this time Thaksin is also a protected species!

Rant over


StanG said...

While the main thrust of your argument is valid, why generals wealth is not investigated, in real life it doesn't hold much water as an example of double standards.

They are not political office holders and are not subject to the same rules and scrutiny.

Surayud got his Khao Yai house as a gift, afaik. When he was appointed PM he disclosed his assets to NACC or whatever it was called at the time.

We don't have mass demonstrations against generals, even reds managed only to raise the issue of Khao Yai.

Thaksin's dealings have only scratched the surface, considering how he had no shortage of funds stashed overseas to invest in this and that and no one knows where they came from.

TRT was dissolved mostly for condoning electoral fraud while Democrats did everything they could to rectify it, in that particular trial. I don't know of any "much worse corruption deals".

Hobby said...

StanG: Just Google something like 'Democrat Party and 258 million baht donation'.

Also, are you saying no generals have ever held any political office, ministry or portfolio? If so, please check again.

The double standard in Thailand is that certain people/groups are protected species, and others are persecuted & turned into enemies of the state.

Here's some homework for you StanG: Try to find if there is any common thread linking the protected groups.

Anonymous said...

Whilst there might be (probably is) good reason to investigate many other people in Thailand, Thaksin appears to have changed so many rules/laws to suit his own circumstances, that the blatency of these actions is obvious to all and shold be contested.
To say that "he" did not become any more wealthy than other astute investors during his time in office is not the point.
He is being accused of having created circumstances by using his power/influense/entitelments as PM to benefit companies (AIS) and members of his family in ways not available to others so they would be advantaged by these changes - often at the expense of other companies and/or individuals.
To say he is not the first politician, or other "influential person" to have done so in Thailand (or elsewhere), when circumstances made it possible, is not a legitimate excuse for not going after him.
History will judge whether or not the charges were brought on him in a way which represented double standards. And he might have just cause to bellyache about this. But, it does not make the charges any less valid or important for the courts to decide on.

Hobby said...

Anonymous: I am not opposed to Thaksin being investigated, I just think there is an obvious pattern in whats happening.
IMO, all wrongdoings should be investigated, and the judgements should be transparent.

I still think something does not add up regarding the policy corruption allegations - either the Shinawatra/Damapong clans have stashed away heaps (in which case there should be a money trail), or the benefits from the alleged policy corruption are greatly exaggerated (and possibly negligible or nil).

The more I see the asset seizure case discussed, the more I am starting to believe that they (you know who:) think they can get away with what they did on the Pojaman land case - could not prove any real corruption or benefit, but convicted on a technicality and imposed a very harsh penalty.

It is a double standard when the rules are not enforced consistently, and anyone who thinks that Thaksin has been treated evenhandedly over the last 3 years, is clearly biased (or a fool:)

John Francis Lee said...

The double standard is transparent and incontrovertible. All four of your bullets are glaring examples, with bullet number one the shiner most ignored by the Thai MSM.

As regards prosecuting Thaksin... bankrupting him really, a la Singapore in the lee of justice' breeze... the difficulty is in how to admit enough of the workings of the criminal machine termed "government" in Bangkok to "get" Thaksin, but not enough to impair its continued "production" for those applying the double standard.

A real prosecution of Thaksin would blow the lid off... and they cannot have that.

And yes, certainly the Thai military is THE impediment to anything resembling a democratic government in Thailand, and "the generals" in Thailand, as the generals in Burma, are the chief beneficiaries of the "policy corruption" that is government in Thailand.

davidb98 said...

thanks Hobby....

what you say all makes sense to me

the others are clutching at Sondhis coattails, not really thinking for themselves...

eg. our mate Anonymous who says "often at the expense of other companies and/or individuals." mmmm, I wonder who those companies and individuals were? for example all the telecom companies benefited from changes he made, actually at the expense of his company...

there is talk of TOT and CAT losing but the government got the money direct instead of through them... and it was better for his competitors as well as being in line with world policy changes at the time ... bit complicated for someone brainwashed by Sondhi on behalf of the generals

the bankers were all really happy, it was just the corrupt generals dealing in drugs, lottery and other businesses that were upset at Thaksin threatening their income streams

StanG said...

Democrats and 258 million donations - it was in a run up to 2005 elections, three elections and five governments ago, and we first heard of it when PTP brought it up five years later, and all they have to go on is a fax to one of Democrats' offices, and people who were possibly responsible are not with the party anymore.

Party contributions in Thailand have always been a murky business and singling out Democrats for that is a double standard itself.

The only enemy of the state is Thaksin, there are no others at the moment.

There are at least two government programs under investigation right now.

Reds went to fight double standards in Khao Yai, against ONE out of 247 owners holding land there illegally.

It's a bloody circus.

Anonymous said...

Davidb98,you don't know anything about me and I find your comments quite out of line.
You acuse me of having taken my views from Sondhi with nothing to substantiate your acusation with.
I also mostly agree with Hobby's comments - no argument with most of what he says. In fact I hold his opinions rather highly - because he is willing to stick his neck out,usually backed with valid comments. He avoids personal cheap shots.
I also read John Frances Lee and StanG's comments regularly as well.
Whilst I don't always agree with them, I do respect their opinions.
As I have never heard of you before, I can't say if you're full of "it" or not - so I won't comment further.

Leosia said...

Great post Hobby. There is extreme hypocrisy in Thailand regarding what constitutes corrupt practice. Aside from the military spending huge budgets on overpriced inessential equipment you have the police and politicians and other connected officials openly taking bribes and significant kickbacks. I know a policeman who lives in an 86 million baht condominium overlooking the Emporium who owns steel mills, buys racehorses from Australia and is protected 24/7 by armed security guards. A few years ago he was promoted to be the youngest Police general in Thai history.

There are many politicians who have enormous declared wealth compared to their earnings but who never get investigated because they happen to be the right "color". It would be a waste of time investigating all these instances because in my opinion just about everyone is involved. What I would rather see is more openness and honesty as to the level of corruption instead of pretending it doesn't exist. Just let the military form a Government and forget about elections and constantly talking about democracy when clearly nobody wants it.

Hobby said...

"It's a bloody circus"

At last I agree with you on something StanG:)

antipadshist said...


I thing the "why" questions are more like rethorical :)

coz most of us already know the answers

antipadshist said...

by the way - curious news is that someone has found some reason to close Sanam Luan to public for very clever (or rather funny ?) reason : to catch thousands of pigeons. you can see photo on Nation website "testing net for pigeons"

this is quite convenient reason - so coincidentally right before red shirts rally, huh ? ;)

and in some Thai Forums it has been already discussed, and gov. officials made a statement already "no, we didn't make this decision because of red-shirts, but because these birds really causing a lot of problems"

smart ! :D

Hobby said...

Not curious AntiPADshist, more like 'par for the course, IMO.

GeGee said...

Hobby, since your "epiphany" which seems to have been after your recent trip to Chiang Mai, I have become concerened about your change in stance. Previously, you were one of the more objective English Language commentators, on the Thai "situation".
Whilst I agree, "the reds are not going away", and they have some "just causes", I take issue at your equally "double stand-ed" approach to present events.
It will be great, if they can expose the so obvious "double standards", which exist in Thailand. But, you (as do many blogger/commentators)fail to address the just as great "double standards" of the Reds, PTP and so on, from the other side.
That people like Jatuporn can just come out and make outrageous statements, which are little more than lies. Here is someone who is prepared to say,today's rally and all the other recent Red events, have nothing to do with the events on next Friday, is a lie.
The fact that the Reds and the PTP accept "control" from Dubai only makes things worse.
Stand up for what you believe in - not what your were told in Chiang Mai.

GeGee said...

I would expand my comments on the "double standards" of the Reds, to the issue of today - Prem's supposed involvement, with providing a "favorable" situation to people involved with, establishing a golf club.
What about the involvement of some of the Reds "patrons" in the Alpine Golf Club "affair" ?
They won't touch that with a 40 foot barge pole - for obvious reasons.

More, what have any of these issues got to do with bettering the lives of Thailand's poor?
They only involve the rich and poweful.

Will they go near the overriding influences, of so many local puu yais, who exploit their constituents?
I don't hear much, or anything about that.
This is something which could help those in need almost immediately.

The Reds seem to have equally double standards, when it comes to practicising democracy.

I will never forget seeing Karen Percy on Australia Network asking Jaturporn when he was arrested after the Songkran riots, when she asked him what he was figthing for.
He said, parrot fashion (I thought), "err, ahh democracy".
She then aske him, what that meant.
The look of bewilderment on his face, was priceless.
It was as if he hadn't rehearsed the next line and so, couldn't answer.

I thought her reports on Thailand were fairly poor and cliched, but this time, intentionally or not, she nailed the entire "Red" movement.

There is a lot wrong with this country and the way it is governed, but the Reds are not the answer.
Let us all hope,after next week, the smoke can clear and perhaps - and it is a BIG perhaps -
some real leaders will emerge, to give all Thai people the chance to make the most of this most wonderful land and give the people the oppotunities to really create, a proper and equal society.

Hobby said...

Thanks for the comments GeGee - my 'ephiphany' as you call it was not that I am a now a Thaksin fan, or a fan of any particular politician for that matter (and especially NOT Jatuporn).
I remain 'song mai ow', but what I have belatedly realised is that if forced to choose in a two horse race, then I think only one horse has a chance of facilitating the change necessary to make things better for the majority.

Previously I thought it better to be rid of Thaksin first, but now the folly in that view is clearly apparent, as the old guard have shown time and again that they are incapable of changing their spots.

The people should be the ones who decide who they want (or rather who they think is lesser of two evils) - thats the major 'ephiphany' I have had from the Chiang Mai trip.

The other 'ephiphany' was regarding how Da & Suwicha have been treated (and the ongoing threat to others) - the silence from those who could stop this has been deafening, and frankly it's subhuman.
I could go on but...............

john francis lee said...

The choice is between authoritarian government and democratic government.

The fact that the authoritarian branch is a well-oiled machine and that the democratic branch is quite rough does not sway me.

Can you really prefer perfect authoritarian stasis to even rough and ready democracy and the possibility, indeed the eventuality of freedom and change?

The choice for democracy is not unlike the choice for a 'sufficiency economy', as it's termed.

Can you really prefer the wild, consumerist, open-ended, ponzi scheme that must lead to disaster to some form of natural, self-sustaining existence on the planet?

The 'official' proponents of the 'sufficiency economy' are a cynical bunch who see its utility for keeping "them" down; in consequence its 'official' opponents are those who attack those proponents, and then the 'sufficiency economy' as the program of its proponents.

The same sort of dichotomy goes in the authoritarianism vs democracy 'contest'.

The 'official' proponents of democracy, as defined by the authoritarians and the MSM on their behalf, are a cynical bunch who note its utility for bringing "them" down, and so its 'official' proponents promote democracy as such.

But the real contest is between consumerism and life within nature, on the one hand, and between authoritarianism and democracy on the other; not between the characters aligned with any one side or the other.

All our feet stand in the same clay yet the aggressive, the ruthless, the greedy are propelled to the fore by their greed, their ruthlessness, and their aggression.

For them, any philosophy, any ideology, any advertising slogan that might seem to suit their aims will do.

No one will remember the names of the tawdry players in this melodrama of the MSM in a generation's time, yet all will cherish, or take for granted, democracy ascendant.

GeGee said...

We both agree change is needed. Like you I am mostly "song mai ow".
But where we differ, is that I think you will accept change, for the sake of change.
If those who seek "real" change are still prepared to get into bed with the "red" devil(s) what hope do they have of being able to do anything to help the people.
Do you really think that if the Red alliance (for want of a better term) with scallywags like Chalerm and Jaturporn doing the bidding of their Dubai based master and the gung-ho old soldiers, like Seh Deang, Panlop and the pompous Chavalit, got to hold the reigns of power, that things would change for the better ?
Like them or not, at least the "other side" now has a few reasonable young and well educated people who granted are still lumbered with a lot of old dinsours and so are having a hard time of it. But on the red side I don't seem to see any apart from Jakrapob, Jaturporn who could be considered "young" and in charge.
So why jump out of the frying pan into the fire, just to destroy any semblence of a workable society.
They tried that in Europe a hundred years ago - look where it got them ?

hobby said...

Democracy or the status quo - you choose?

Thaksin was voted in - he can be voted out (cannot say the same for the other side)

GeGee said...

Don't go down that path. Thaksin was not voted in, after he threw away the results and decided to have another election - which was conducted under very cloudy circumstances.
He was not PM and not even caretaker PM, when the coup ocurred.
That the present government arrived at their position in less that satisfactory ways, is true. However, the members were voted in, just as the previous Samak and Somchai governments were.
Abhisit was voted PM by the house members, as per the constitution.
That a number of politicians decided (for I agree, lees than transparent reasons) to cross the floor, is not un-democratic. Even the 1997 constitution allows for this.
And if you think that putting Thaksin and/or Thaksin allies into power will create a more democratic Thailand, I would ask where were you, in the years 2000-2006 ?
I was here and what I experienced, was increasingly becoming less democratic, by the day.
This was largely because one man believed he could "do no wrong" - to quote someone else...

hobby said...

Sorry, GeGee, but I see no point discussing with you if you still believe that stuff after all this time.

As for Democracy under Thaksin, I have never said it was perfect, however I am just not wasting time with anyone who still believes a military coup was the way to remove him, and a judicial coup the way to keep anyone associated with him from arising (btw, the judicial coup is ongoing, and they think they can knock him out next week)

GeGee said...

I am equally dissapointed in you - that you follwo the drivel handed out by the reds.
I never said the coup was justified.
I am of the belief that if things had been left to be, by now Thaksin and his mob would have been shown up as the con men they are.
Democracy was not perfect under him.
It certainly wasn't and was about to disappear - do you want that back ?
I guess you are prepared to sup with one "devil", just to get rid of another "devil".
That solves nothing.
At least one knows what is in need of change now.
It is not "stuff" as you call it.
Don't be so blind.

hobby said...

Its not my country, and its not a matter of me 'supping with a devil' - the Thai people should be allowed to decide (without inteference from those outside, or above, politics).

The big thing in Thaksins favour is that he was always happy to go to elections to let the people decide - can you say that for his opponents?

GeGee said...

Yes, we are but spectators in this game - albeit in my case, at least - with vested interests in the country and its people.
As for Thaksin, being always at the ready, to go to the people, I would add to that; as long as he is assured of winning.
And before you say it, I know, he is not the only player to put such faith in a vote - as long as he can win.
But, what must be remembered, is that a win at an election doesn't give any government the right to do what they want and ignore those who didn't vote for them.
You would no doubt agree,Thailand has suffered for too long with politicians and "elites"(of all sides)who pay little attention to ALL people.
My concern is that I do not see any group/party, who will govern for all Thais.
This is why I suggest that there is little to be achieved by suporting this current crop of "activists", who trade under the RED banners and their associates in parliament.
I say the same about the "Yellow activists", too, just in case you ask.
The Thais I feel sorry for, are those who out of desperation, are willing to support the leaderships of these "colour groups", because they believe they offer a chance of a "better life" - when in fact their leaders are only in it for themselves. If they happen to do some good along the way, so be it.
But that is just a "side effect".
That Thais who believe they are "left out" are beginning to rise up, is a good thing and a "side effect" of the Thaksin years.
However, I doubt this was his intention. If he had stayed in power, I believe that by now, the blow torch from people who are in the broad church of the "Reds", could very well have been on him and his cronies.
Sadly, you cannot change the past. So, we will never know. But, I think there is plenty of evidence to indicate, this would have happened through "natural causes".
Creating a coup caused many more problems, than it solved.
But, I also doubt the "new society" being ushered in before the coup, was going to be any more successful than what had been in place, before it, or have now.
There is much wrong here.
I think Federic Ferrara (Khi Kwai)says much of what I believe, about what is wrong in Thailand.
The problem I have - as an observer - is that like nearly everyone else, I cannot see a path that will bring true democracy to Thailand. Nor, do I see a long term and sustainable solution to the plight of those "missing out".
I hope this gives you a better idea of my thinking - muddle headed, or otherwise !

hobby said...

Agree about KhiKwai, and also think Handley has some good insights about why democracy has not been allowed to develop.

I dont like any of the politicians on offer - its the nature of the beast IMO - I dont like any in my country, so why should I like them in another country.

It's the system I am more concerned about, and how democracy has been held back.
One side wants to keep that 'puu yai knows best' system, and the only other side available in this contest offers some hope for change (albiet slow, and probably rocky)

Tell me, who among the Thai commentators (activists, academics etc) do you think is a voice of reason?

I'm trying to learn more about such Thai's, and so far I have not found any on the yellow side.

The ones I have found to be somewhat sensible are Dr Weng T, Nitthi Eiewsriwong, Thitinan Pongsudhirak and Somsak J.

Of the reporters, Pravit seems head & shoulders above the rest.

hobby said...

btw, Thaksin to me is the lesser evil, not the savior.

GeGee said...

I'm sorry but as I have enough trouble speaking Thai, (yes I do feel guilty about that) and my reading skills are just about non-existant, I will go with the names you present. But, if the paucity of critical analysis in English (from Thai people) is any indication, I don't hold out much hope for being able to find any more in depth commentary, in Thai.
BP is as good as any (he's not Thai) and am always greatful for his translations from Thai, to English commentary.
I know from reading you for some time and across many blogs, you don't see Thaksin as a "saviour".
But my belief is that him "returned and forgiven", and/or allowed to continue to play a part in this game, would be a very big mistake for Thailand.
Even in exile, he's still in charge.
He controls most of the debate and dictates the agenda.
I think history - if the country can pass through this period and develop into a true working "democracy" - will show him as being the "great deceiver"
As for your comment about democracry being "held back", I would nominate Thaksin and much of the red leadership for being as complicit in this crime, as those who you seem to believe are holding it back now. The guilt is not selective.

hobby said...

The structural/system problems go back to way before Thaksin - decades before!

Probably the only good thing to come out of the coup is that those isues are now having the spotlight shone on them, but is difficult in a repressive environment where dissent is crushed with draconian jail sentences (or the threat of same)

GeGee said...

I was about to respond when the electricity was knocked out by a big storm - so much rain for this time of year, too.
Anyway, you ar correct. The "structural" and "system" problems go back a long time.
But, I don't believe, Thailand will overcome these issues via the red shirts (with their current leaders, agent provocatuers)and/or Thaksin or any other "despot"at the helm.
After all, isn't that partly why the country is in this mess, because throughout history (even before 1932)Thais have always relied on "strong men" to "protect" them.
All very well, but name one who was able to "protect" and at the same time, put the interest of the Thai people before their own ?
That's why I cannot see supporting the reds and Thaksin is any more than a perpetuation of the cycle.
Same bikes:different riders, that's all.
Hopefully, one day, Thailand will find a new group of riders who can really offer a "new" way.

hobby said...

"Hopefully, one day, Thailand will find a new group of riders who can really offer a "new" way."

Is that referring to Prem's distinguishing who merely rides the horse and who owns it?

Bottom line for me is to just let the people decide who they want, without interefence by the military & others who always seem to be backed by some powerful 'invisible hand'.

GeGee said...

I wasn't thinking of that statement.
I think we've reached the end of this discussion and in broad terms, we seem to agree that change is needed.
Our differences seem to have more to do with the agents of change, than the goals.
And I agree it is for the Thai people to decide, not us in the stands. I just hope, they can do it in a way which DOES make it better for everyone.
Thanks for the discussion.

hobby said...

No worries - I'm just watching it all unfold, and like you, hoping for the best.

Joy said...

I quote: "Why is it that Thaksin's wealth & financial affairs have been thoroughly investigated, studied, even had books written about, yet the question of how various Generals (including Privy Councillors like Surayud) obtained their wealth is just swept under the carpet?"
What coincidence! someone (a red-shirted activist ?) just gave me a pamphlet detailing dubious circumstances surrounding the seizure of Thaksin's 7.6(billion?) baht worth of assets.

hobby said...

Less than a week to go (Friday 26th February) to find out just how far they are prepared to push the double standard:)

GeGee said...

I think how far they are prepared to go on this GT200 issue could be just as important. If that is pushed to the limit, then perhaps some are taking the "double standards" accusations serioulsy.
Will they achieve a result ?
Who knows.
Will it perhaps bring this subject out in the light ?
All I can say, is it appears as much as some might try to push it under the carpet, it's not going away.
We can live in hope, for a fairer society.

hobby said...

Anupong's graphics card (Nvidia GT 200) image was an absolute classic.
ROFLMAO - cannot believe the incompetence (or was it a prank by some red tinted subordinates I wonder? :)