Readers have sent us various links to Thaksin Shinawatra’s recent visit to Los Angeles, some of them included in our much updated initial post. A few more are provided with links in this post.
The first relates to a VOA report that has been reproduced elsewhere and refers to a demonstration at the US Embassy by one of the yellow-shirted groups that pops up from time to time, calling for their version of “justice,” and promising to return.
The second is about Thaksin’s visit to Loyola Marymount University, where he was “the honoree at a formal dinner hosted by LMU’s President David W. Burcham.” That description of Thaksin will have the yellow shirts frothing. LMU is self-described as “a premier Catholic university rooted in the Jesuit and Marymount traditions,” with about 9,000 students. A line that struck PPT as worthy of quotation was this: “Perhaps not surprisingly, the successful businessman spoke glowingly of capitalism and free markets, saying that they are key requirements for a free society.” That would warm the hearts of American listeners, where this is a mantra.
Why LMU? The answer is: “The former prime minister visited LMU at the invitation of Tom Plate, Distinguished Scholar of Asian/Pacific Studies at LMU and an influential columnist focusing on Asia. The third book in Plate’s Giants of Asia series is Conversations with Thaksin, which became a bestseller in Asia when it was published last year.” PPT’s brief take on the book was unenthusiastic. It wasn’t academic by any stretch of the imagination.
Plate supported the Thaksin visit with an op-ed that is pro-Thaksin and likely to further steam up the anti-Thaksin opposition.
… Elected several times in national elections deemed to be relatively fair and open, he was pushed out by a sadly misconceived military coup in 2006 and has been working out of his exile in Dubai since then in effort to return.
The energetic 63-year-old telecommunications pioneer doesn’t let grass grow under his feet, however, and this month has been bouncing around the United States looking for love among Thai exile groups, meeting with the usual VIPS (the Henry Kissingers and so on), and trying to make new friends. Except for one anti-Thaksin demonstration in Los Angeles, it has been smooth going here in the U.S.
… Thaksin not only believes he doesn’t deserves jail but also that his many millions of backers wouldn’t stand for it. A return home under such circumstances, he strongly feels, would be politically destabilizing. He proposes amnesty for everyone, and national reconciliation. His goal is simply to return to his country, pledging flatly at two LMU sessions that he has no ambition to resume any effort to win high office, much preferring to help his young sister Yingluck Shinawatra, now the country’s prime minister, govern troubled Thailand successfully.
That means any number of daily phone calls over the one of six cell-phones he carries, and all kinds of advice to her, whether sought by her or not….
… Whatever Thaksin’s faults as a human being and as a political leader, he did not deserve undemocratic eviction and neither did Thailand. The negative consequences of this huge blunder by the Thai establishment are still being felt but even worse yet is that the elite seems in the main not to understand this.
… Whatever one thinks of Thaksin, the [anti-]Thaksin coup precedent sells Thailand way short and should not be allowed to stand.