Politics: Abhisit is having “A History Moment” but it will be short lived!

By Frank, Thai Intel’s political journalist

There I was with a sexy chick and about to sneak my hand under her dress, then True cable TV came on and had this historic program about the Rockefeller Family.

Her attention went to the Rockefeller-all about how great they are. But well, I told her, if you know anything about the Rockefeller, they are a great family but with one of the nastiest history in their rise to power and wealth on record-unscrupulous murderers many calls the family-even today.

The Rockefeller are corrupted by the trio of money, power and status-and willing to do anything for the them, I told her. She just laughed, captivated by the arts in the mansion.

And today, Thai Intel’s classified source sent over an article from the Bangkok Post about the problems inside the Abhisit coalition. And so I am thinking Rockefeller and Abhisit are so much alike-great image-but dig beneath the surface and nothing but a rotten eggs.

The Bangkok Post points to one of the coalition party is the ultimate in corruption-and if you follow Thai Intel, a few days back we ran a report on a major and rare poll on Thai corruption-and result said Thai businesses sees the current government as “Average in transparency” and “Policy corruption” is “Widespread.” In one instant alone, in government purchases, Thai business said about US$1 to US$5 billion is corrupted away in a year.

The problem as the cutting edge journalist at the Bangkok Post noted, is the the whole rationale of the 2006 coup and for the royalist elite rule of Thailand-to the extent of cooking up the Abhisit government inside a military camp and went murdering about 100 protesters a few months ago: “Is to get rid of the corrupt Taksin.”

But corruption have gotten so bad in Thailand, Matichon, Thailand’s only independent media group, had an opinion the other day that just said: “We never saw open and blatant corruption like this before where they just corrupt away in front of everyone to see as if it were a normal thing.”

Thai Intel, off course, being part of the Red Shirt movement, does not care much about Abhisit really-especially after the crack-down on the protesters that killed about 100.

But Thai Intel is not blinded to the fact that Abhisit, first, is personalty above financial corruption and second as the head of a government that was formed in a military camp, Abhisit does not have much of a choice in anything that goes on in Thailand that much-as Thai Rath says, a media for the elite ruler of Thailand says: Thailand is about what the “Invisible Hand” wants.

But the bottom line is that history is waiting to write Abhisit’s time as Thailand’s prime minister. And Abhisit must be thinking: “Is there anything good to write about.”

Here it is, Abhisit’s only time in history to be something great and make an impact for the betterment of Thailand-the opportunity is right here to grab-like now.

But the sad fact is what had Abhisit became-to millions and millions of Thai people-like lets say 10-20 millions Thais? Is it so normal for a leader of any country to be hated by so many of his own countrymen?

Perhaps, from reading the Bangkok Post article, Abhisit might be having a “History Moment.” “Watch for the ending,” said Abhisit yesterday.

The ending aside, Thai Intel wants to say to Abhisit, but so far, in the “Real Book” on Abhisit that is being partially written-there is nothing but “Crap.” There is absolutely nothing there, that can impress anyone-on anything.

All of it, is just a boy who dream long ago to become Thailand’s prime minister, and took years of crap from everyone and waited, swallowing all the crap, for the chance. And when it came-however ugly the rise-the boy took it-and is doing everything-again however ugly-to cling to power-just a perpetual candidate for office-but having no clue at all what is best for the Thai people.

Abhisit may not be corrupted by money-but the history books will see him as one of the most corrupted Thai politician when it comes to power and status.



Thai prime minister marries corruption


The following is from the Bangkok Post:

Few politicians have benefited from Thailand’s strangely short collective memory as much as Newin Chidchob, the provincial baron from Buri Ram. Despite his ban on holding political office for five years from May 2007, Mr Newin is the de facto leader of Bhumjaithai Party, a small partner in the coalition government with disproportionate power.

The famous embrace: Newin Chidchob (right) gives the new premier a hug.

Mr Newin is the most resilient, recycled and re-invented politician of the past two decades. His rise, decline, rehabilitation and current resurgence betrays Thailand’s official narrative that a corrupt regime was necessarily overthrown to bring in a cleaner government.

Mr Newin shot into the national limelight in the mid-1990s. He leveraged his control over a squad of MPs from Buri Ram and adjoining provinces in the lower northeast to position himself in the Chart Thai Party, which stole a narrow victory over the Democrat Party in the July 1995 general election. Mr Newin was then head of an informal, younger crowd of politicians known as the Group of 16. So unsavoury was this group’s reputation that its members were labelled “yucky” when they were appointed to the cabinet of Banharn Silpa-archa. Mr Newin became deputy finance minister.

With the “bubble economy” at its peak prior to the financial crisis of 1997, Mr Newin and other Group of 16 cohorts in Chart Thai and Chart Pattana parties were embroiled in shady scams with Bangkok Bank of Commerce, whereby the politicians obtained and put up cheap land deeds from Nong Khai province as collateral for loans worth several hundred million baht. While these shoddy BBC loans were among a myriad that led the bank to nosedive into insolvency, the scandal elicited a parliamentary grilling in September 1996 by the opposition Democrat Party which ultimately led to the demise of the Banharn government.

As the November 1997 election approached, Mr Newin and his camp were so yucky that they could not find a party banner to contest the polls under. They settled on Solidarity Party at the last minute.

The legal and political fallout from the 1997-98 economic crisis kept Mr Newin and his faction in low-profile political roles. But they soon found a new home under the Thai Rak Thai flag and Thaksin Shinawatra. Mr Newin’s rapid mobility under TRT to a position in Thaksin’s inner sanctum was astounding. He eventually became a Thaksin confidant and lead henchman.

On the night of the Sept 19, 2006 coup, Mr Newin, as minister in charge of the Mass Communications Organisation of Thailand overseeing Channel 9, allowed Thaksin’s only TV broadcast against the coup. In the preceding weeks, he was also the organiser of rural columns trucked into Bangkok to demonstrate in opposition to the People’s Alliance for Democracy. Indeed, part of the coup conspiracy was that Mr Newin’s rural foot soldiers would march on Bangkok and instigate a civil war. The coup was partly justified as a pre-empting of this clash.

Mr Newin was then detained and interrogated by the generals. He famously revealed how he was left by the roadside clad only in his underwear when the coup leaders released him.

He stuck with the Thaksin camp after Thai Rak Thai was dissolved, and continued to play the role of chief lieutenant with some muscle to bear. After Thai Rak Thai’s reincarnation, People Power Party, won the December 2007 elections, Mr Newin was a major behind-the-scenes operative in the Thaksin resurgence. When Mr Thaksin returned and kissed the ground at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Mr Newin wept by his boss’ side.

His erstwhile unflinching loyalty shifted in late 2008, reportedly by army arm-twisting and signals from the powers-that-be. After the Democrat Party-led coalition was formed inside the 1st Infantry Division, Mr Newin’s photographed embrace with Abhisit Vejjajiva reverberated everywhere. He was again rehabilitated.

Not long after, he was acquitted in the notorious rubber sapling scandal. After the acquittal, he stated that his duty henceforth would be to “protect the monarchy”. Mr Newin was famous for his role in the handling of red shirts in April 2009, commanding “blue shirt” toughs in the streets. Concurrently, the Bhumjaithai Party was awarded choice portfolios of the transport and interior ministries.

He found a new business ally in the King Power Group, whose owners have hobnobbed on horses with the world’s rich and prestigious. King Power runs the monopoly concession at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Its flagship hotel in Bangkok’s Soi Rangnam was Mr Newin’s command post during the April 2009 riots of the red shirts.

Mr Newin has positioned Bhumjaithai as a bridge between the Thai Rak Thai magic and Thaksin’s seemingly indestructible draw, and the preferences and prerogatives of the Establishment. Bhumjaithai’s billboards amalgamate protection of the monarchy with populism which “makes people happy”.

Its latest addition is to “resist the new Thai state” – a veiled reference to the alleged quintessence of the red shirts.

For a while, Bhumjaithai was seen as the new vehicle that weds powerful generals with old-style politicians like Mr Newin, backed by a powerful business group and geared in the direction of the powers-that-be.

But the poster man of Thailand’s money politics now faces a different political tune. As corruption scandals under Bhumjaithai portfolios mount – from the proposed 4-billion-baht rental of buses and infrastructure spending pork to bureaucratic promotions and all kinds of influence-peddling – Mr Newin’s political fortune is sputtering. After an easy ride of almost two years, he now suddenly faces another procurement graft case involving equipment at Central Lab under investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission. The spectre of his undoing raises the possibility that his benefactors may no longer see his utility.

Mr Newin’s topsy-turvy fate may suggest that he, like all of the other variables and assets that are in play since the coup, is expendable. While many of these individuals have seen and rationalised themselves as saviours of the established order, they may actually end up as pawns.