More on King Power

28 08 2010

Airport duty free monopoly King Power is seldom far from the front pages. Much of this has to do with the close links between its Thao Kae Vichai Raksriaksorn and political wheeler-dealer and Buriram godfather Newin Chidchob. PPT summarized our postings in our recent account of the second bombing outside King Power’s Bangkok headquarters.

One interesting little paragraph hidden away in a bombing report stated: “Newin Chidchob, banned politician and de facto leader of the Bhumjaithai party, a coalition partner of the Democrat-led government, also reportedly had dinner at a restaurant in King Power Shopping complex Thursday evening.”

These political connections are important for Vichai, who seems to be the biggest backer of Newin and his party. PPT earlier posted more background on Vichai.

Vichai is one of Thailand’s richest Sino-Thai businessmen. Some time ago PPT posted that Vichai’s background is not very clear. In 2007 he was ranked by Forbes as Thailand’s 21st wealthiest, worth about US$200 million. He’s much richer than that now. The best available account of King Power and its economic and political power is by Chang Noi. The airport monopoly also provides the huge cash flow that are a political asset.

Vichai almost single-handedly established and developed the rich person’s sport of polo in Thailand. You’d think this was little more than a hobby, but through his Thailand Polo Association, Vichai has been able to link to royals worldwide – they all seem to play this ostentatious sport – and this has added greatly to his credibility in Thailand’s high society. The Association is also populated by “advisers” who are generals in the police and military.

All of this is relevant background to a story in the Bangkok Post, where the first paragraph states: “King Power, the duty-free enterprise, celebrated its 20th anniversary with a magnificent evening, designed to depict its 20-year journey to success.”

It continues: “Under the concept “Wondrous Power: The Blissful Journey”, the event started with a lavish party, where guests – who came from the top echelons of politics, business and society – were served light cocktails around the 2nd floor Crown Atrium of King Power complex. They also enjoyed a carousel-themed exhibition portraying King Power’s rise to its present height of success.”

Some of the lucky revelers are shown in the following pictures we have picked out of the story. Who’s in the picture (left)? They are: Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, Srisakul Promphan, the boss and host Vichai Raksriaksorn, Minister of Defence General Prawit Wongsuwan, Aimon Raksriaksorn, currently deputy chairman and CFO at King Power, Minister of Transport Sopon Zarum of Newin’s Puea Thai Party, and Police General Sant Sarutanond.

And then throw in this picture (right). None other than 2006 coup leader General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin. That’s some kind of political connections! Like former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Vichai seems a first-generation super-rich businessman who relies on state power for profits – in this case the duty free monopoly. However, unlike Thaksin, he seems to have taken the old Sino-Thai path of having powerful political connections rather than being directly engaged in formal politics.

PPT can’t help wondering if this remains a viable strategy in the age of globalized capitalism. It might well be a viable strategy for the backward-looking political regime that currently runs Thailand.


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28 10 2018
King Power helicopter down | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] More on King Power is about the rise of King Power and its political connections. […]

28 10 2018
King Power helicopter down | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] More on King Power is about the rise of King Power and its political connections. […]

28 10 2018
King Power helicopter down I | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] More on King Power is about the rise of King Power and its political connections. […]




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