Writer: Andy Leggott
Date:Wednesday June 20 2007
The order from the Thai Military for Thaksin Shinawatra to return home and face trial is the latest twist in the saga of Thaksin's plans to take over at Manchester City. It is certainly not the first negative comment we have heard about his character and his past, and if as Manchester City fans we are to be fair to him, we need to distinguish between such comment and the facts. For as the great Manchester journalist C.P. Scott once observed: 'Comment is free but facts are sacred.'
Because there isn't the space to examine every accusation and denial, we can only look at the main events which have drawn us into this dilemma about Thaksin's integrity. However, in taking a limited view it becomes important that when we judge Thaksin's political and financial career, we carefully distinguish between the historical facts and the comment of his enemies. For example, it is an historical fact that Thaksin won landslide election victories 2001 and 2005 and that in 2006 a military junta overthrew his elected government. Then the Junta annulled the Thai constitution, and dissolved Parliament and the Courts. They continue,to this day, to censor the media and prohibit political activity and meetings. It is also a fact that the Junta remain the source of most of the negative comment that is being made against Thaksin. They continually taunted Thaksin's government throughout its existence with allegations of corruption, dictatorship, treason, human rights offences the use of legal loopholes and hostility towards the press.
Thaksin began his career as a cadet in the Thai Police, and later became a successful entrepreneur. He made his fortune before he entered politics. First establishing the Shin Corporation and then Advanced Info Services, he became one of the richest people in Thailand.
On entering politics it was Thaksin's progressive economic, health, education policies which upset his enemies, and enabled him to become the first Prime Minister in Thai history to complete his term in office. His progressive policies were particularly effective in relieving rural poverty and providing near universal access to affordable health care for the people of Thailand.
No one ever achieves political success or amasses a vast fortune without leaving some skeletons in the cupboard. But who gives those who wantonly destroyed the Thai courts the right to try people in a court of their own making.
Date:Wednesday June 20 2007
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