The funding trail

12 02 2014

There has been considerable speculation in recent years about the funding for large rallies. In the case of the current crop of anti-democrats, Post Today, and now its English parent, The Bangkok Post has published a leaked list.

The list is apparently from the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) that claimed to have a list “of 136 firms and individuals said to be funding anti-government protests…”. The leaked list is of just 32 alleged financial backers, made up of 19 companies and 13 individuals.

The 19 companies are: Saha Pathanapibul Plc, Gaysorn Plaza, Siam Paragon Department Store, King Power Group, Dusit Thani Hotel, Siam Intercontinental Hotel, Riverside Hotel, Mitr Phol Group, Wangkanai Group, Boon Rawd Brewery Co, Thai Beverage Plc, Yakult (Thailand) Co, Neptune Co, Thai Namthip Co, Muang Thai Life Assurance Co, Hello Bangkok Co and Metro Machinery Group.

Several of these companies are linked with Princess Sirindhorn. Others are long-established royalist firms with strong links to the monarchy through large donations and other support over many years. Amongst these, Bhirombhakdi family of the Boonrawd Brewery of the Bhirombhakdi family and Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s family are notable. King Power was associated with Newin Chidchob and his support of the last Democrat Party government. It is also a strong supporter of things royal.

The 13 individuals are: Chumpol Suksai, Chalerm Yoovidhya of Red Bull fame, Pramon Suthiwong, Khunying Kallaya Sophanpanich (Bangkok Bank family), Nuanphan Lamsam (Kasikorn Bank family), Wimolphan Pitathawatcha, Dr Pichet Wiriyachitra, Taya Teepsuwan, Sakchai Guy, Krisana Mutitanant, Pol Gen Kitti Rattanachaya, Chitpas Kridakorn [Bhirombhakdi] and Issara Vongkusolkit (with a family worth about $1 billion).

Denial has been the first response (and here):

… PDRC secretary general Suthep Thaugsuban told supporters on Tuesday night that none of the people on the list, except Sakchai Guy, had provided financial support to his political movement.

Mr Suthep said Mr Sakchai donated money generated from selling T-shirts to PDRC.

Mr Pramon, chairman of Toyota (Thailand), also denied any financial involvement with the PDCR. He said he is considering a lawsuit against the CMPO if it officially accused him of funding protests, since as such information would damage his reputation and company.

Boonchai Chokwatana, the chief executive of Thailand’s leading consumer goods producer Saha Pathanapibul Plc, is also considering a defamation case against the CMPO if it formalises the accusation.





Rich, rich, rich I

4 07 2013

Only a day or so ago, PPT posted about inequality and the political power of the rich. Interestingly, this coincided with Forbes posting its list of Thailand’s billionaires. The top 10 are:

1. Dhanin Chearavanont & family worth $12.6 B, from agribusiness and more, and ranked in the top 60 richest on the planet.1000baht

2. Chirathivat family worth $12.3 B mostly in the retail sector

3. Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi of beer, liquor and property, worth $10.6 B

4. Yoovidhya family of Red Bull fame and fast car notoriety, worth $7.8 B

5. Krit Ratanarak, of Bank of Ayudhya and with television interests, worth $3.9 B

6. Chamnong Bhirombhakdi & family, worth $2.4 B, mainly from beer, and with a scion in the Democrat Party

7. Vanich Chaiyawan, worth $2.1 B, in insurance and a big shareholder in Charoen’s Thai Bev

8. Vichai Maleenont & family in media and entertainment, worth $2 B

9. Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth, worth $1.8 B from medical, health and aviation investment

10. Thaksin Shinawatra & family, worth $1.7 B, from various investments in property, mining and more.

Most of the list are paid-up monarchists and some have been active politically, using their wealth in various political ways. PPT isn’t sure if politics earns money for Thaksin or costs him a pile of loot at present. It certainly cost him plenty under various royalist governments.

Of course, the richest tycoon family in Thailand is actually the king and his family. With the stock market rises and boom in tourism, PPT’s back of the envelope calculation will have the rich royals at about $35-45 Billion this year.

PPT will have a follow-up post on the Forbes stories on these tycoons.





After the king, who are Thailand’s richest?

30 08 2012

As usual, Forbes list of Thailand’s richest leaves off the king and royal family. However, they usually include them in the richest royals list out later in the year.

This year’s richest list generally sees the richest getting richer. As Forbes observes:

For a country seen by some outsiders to be beset by political turmoil and rural insurgency, never mind last fall’s calamitous flooding, Thailand has done remarkably well by its richest. Their collective wealth is up by better than 20% for a second straight year….

Many of Thailand’s wealthiest are looking to take on international rivals, on the strength of an expected 6% growth in the Thai economy this year.

The list of Thailand’s richest is here. The wealthiest is Dhanin Chearavanont who “boasts an estimated net worth of $9 billion.” He’s followed by the Chirathivat family with $6.9 billion, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi worth $6.2 billion, the Yoovidhya family with $5.4 billion, Krit Ratanarak with $3.1 billion, the Bhirombhakdi family with $2.4 billion and the Maleenont family worth $1.8 billion. Quite a few royalists and Democrat Party supporters amongst this lot.

If the wealth of the top ten in the Forbes list is combined, then the total comes out roughly the same as the assets of the Crown Property Bureau.

 





Wealth and the floods

17 11 2011

The Bangkok Post reports that those good souls at the country’s biggest conglomerates are doing their bit for the victims of the flooding.

The Post reports that Thai Beverage Plc, Advanced Info Service, True Corp, Central Group, GMM Grammy, Muang Thai Life Assurance, ICC International, Bangkok Bank, Major Cineplex, Thai Union Frozen Products, BTS Group Holdings and Mitr Phol Sugar are getting together and planning to raise 100 million baht over eight months.

That sounds like a lot, right? Well, not really. Thai Beverage had sales of 121.7 billion baht in 2010 and a net profit of 10.7 billion baht. The boss of the company, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, was reported to have a net worth of $4.3 billion in March 2011. The unlisted Central Group had total sales turnover over 119 billion baht in 2010 and probably pretty neat profits too. So 100 million from a dozen companies starts to sound a tad mean.

But wait, it isn’t all coming from them: “each business would contribute seed money and fund activities to raise more funds.” Yes, we know some of these companies have done more than this in recent days, but all this palaver in the Post is about public relations.

We suspect this statement from the Major Cineplex Group Chairman Vicha Poolvaraluck is much closer to a statement of how the big boys in town really think. He is reported to have stated: “We haven’t seen much impact in the short term [from the current floods]…. The massive flood is still better than the 1997 financial crisis when many millionaires went bankrupt. The flood disaster has affected middle- and low-income people the most.”

Better the lower classes take the hits than all those nice millionaires!





Thailand’s richest minus one

31 08 2011

Forbes has published its annual rich list for Thailand. It notes that Thailand’s stock exchange has been one of the world’s best performing over the past year and the baht has appreciated, adding to the wealth in dollar terms for many of the already fabulously rich. For all of the political conflict, Forbes says:

Collectively the wealth of the richest 40 advanced 25% to an aggregate $45 billion. Their asset growth is helping these industrialists ramp up investments in operations abroad like never before. The wealth of three-quarters of those on the list rose.

The top ten on the Forbes list are as follows:

#1 Dhanin Chearavanont, Net Worth $7,400 mil

#2 Chaleo Yoovidhya, Net Worth $5,000 mil

#3 Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, Net Worth $4,800 mil

#4 Chirathivat family, Net Worth $4,300mil

#5 Krit Ratanarak & family, Net Worth $2,500 mil

#6 Aloke Lohia, Net Worth $2,100 mil

#7 Chamnong Bhirombhakdi, Net Worth $2,000 mil

#8 Vichai Maleenont, Net Worth $1,500 mil

#9 Isara Vongkusolkit & family, Net Worth $1,400 mil

#10 Praneetsilpa Vacharaphol & family, Net Worth $1,050 mil

Of the top three, Forbes says this:

Dhanin Chearavanont, who owns agribusiness conglomerate, Charoen Pokphand Group, remains in the top spot at $7.4 billion. In second place is the $5 billion fortune of Chaleo Yoovidhya, co-owner of Red Bull energy drinks, closely followed by the $4.8 billion of whiskey king Charoen Sirivadhanbhakdi. The top three have seen their net worths swell over the past year as consumers buy up their wares.

Thaksin Shinawatra has not been left behind either, although he ranks much lower than he would have a decade ago:

… Thaksin Shinawatra (No. 19), rose 53% to $600 million, thanks to a stock split and doubling of share price of his family’s real estate development firm, SC Asset.

One of Thaksin’s enemies, Prachai Leophairatana, is said to be a phoenix story:

rising from the ashes of Asia’s 1997 financial conflagration. Prachai Leophairatana, the former billionaire once known as Thailand’s biggest defaulter, with $3.8 billion in bad loans at his defunct Thai Petrochemical Industries group, is on the rebound. Shares of the remaining part of his empire, cement maker TPI Polene hit a three-year high in August, putting this controversial tycoon on the list at No. 29, with $300 million.

As usual, Thailand’s richest family, the royal family, is not on the list. Forbes usually includes the king at the top of its world’s richest royals each year.

Even so, there are plenty of royalists in the list. The top four are all known to be generous supporters of royal galas and other pet projects and Prachai was long seen as a funder of anti-Thaksin yellow shirt rallies, led by the People’s Alliance for Democracy.





The rich, minus 1

10 03 2011

Forbes has just published its annual rich list – The World’s Billionaires 2011 – and lists three for Thailand. The ranking hasn’t changed much since 2010, although wealth is increasing:

Dhanin

Ranked at 152 worldwide is Dhanin Chearavanont & family with assets valued at $6.5 Billion, mainly centered on the Charoen Phokphand (CP) group. Forbes lists the main holdings: 7-Eleven store operator, CP ALL, Charoen Pokphand Foods, PT Charoen Pokphand.  Also owns country’s third largest mobile phone company, which just took over Hutchison Telecom’s Thailand operations. Dhanin is listed as a “philanthropist” who “restores Buddhist temples in Thailand, sponsors schools and orphanages.” He’s also a full member of the group of business leaders who give strong support to the monarchy and its causes, political and otherwise. Regulalrly seen providing donations to royals.

Chaleo

Ranked 208 is Red Bull’s Chaleo Yoovidhya. He is listed as the founder of “f Thai energy drink producer T.C. Pharmaceuticals. Teamed up with Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz two decades ago to create energy drink Red Bull. Chaleo provided beverage formula and his partner contributed the marketing flair. Today Red Bull, which has $5 billion (sales), plans to expand to China this year. Each partner owns 49% of the company. Chaleo’s son, Chalerm, who owns one of Asia’s leading wine producers, Siam Winery, holds remaining 2%. Family upped stake in privately held Piyavate Hospital.” The group recently sponsored a major royal event.

Charoen

Ranked at 247 is Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi. Forbes writes that “he made his fortune selling inexpensive beer and whiskey. Controls Thai Bev, Thailand’s largest brewer and distiller, best known for its Chang Beer. Took his company public in Singapore in 2006 after Buddhist protesters [led by PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang] stopped the listing on Thailand’s stock exchange. His privately held TCC Land owns Bangkok’s famous tech-mall Pantip Plaza, Hotel Plaza Athenee in Manhattan. Also owns other hotels in Asia, the U.S. and Australia, residential, commercial and retail buildings in Singapore and Thailand.” He has good bureaucratic contacts through his liquor and beer businesses. Charoen has been a generous donor to royal activities. He is remarkably powerful and has huge cash flow, which makes him a valuable political ally.

Missing, of course, is the wealthiest family in Thailand. That’s because the they appear on a very special list at Forbes that we posted on in July 2010 as the wealthiest royals. Ranked on the assets of the Crown Property Bureau alone, the royal family would rank as high as 7 or 8 on the list of the world’s billionaires.





Further updated: UK embassy criticized

2 02 2011

Yesterday PPT posted a snippet from a Bangkok Post report that stated:  “In another development, Phayaw and Natthaputt Akkahad, mother and brother of Kamolket, a volunteer nurse who was found shot dead at Wat Pathum Wanaram after the protest dispersal operation on May 19, 2010, have failed to obtain a visa to Britain after they received an invitation from the House of Lords to discuss the controversy surrounding the death of Kamolket. The hearing in London will be held tomorrow.”

There has been a huge amount of internet traffic highly critical of the UK embassy in Bangkok, with several claims that this is the “old boys’ network” conspiring to prevent the free discussion of the murder of Kamolkade and many others. There have been several demands for the embassy to explain, and their response is usually: “We don’t comment on individual cases.” But really, what are they up to in the embassy? We thought that with the retirement of the former elite hobnobbing ambassador, things might have improved, but it seems not.

Former Ambassador Quinton Quayle (right, with Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij, in fancy dress) sucked up to Abhisit Vejjajiva from the day he was made prime minister and supported the government very strongly in all its actions. That policy seems to continue by denying access to the means of securing justice for this mother of a murdered girl.

There’s perhaps some consolation in a report in the Bangkok Post on the Truth for Reconciliation Commission claiming that it is intensifying its efforts to reveal the truth of the killings in April and May 2010: “Tomorrow’s session will hear from Phayao Akkahad, the mother of the nurse killed at Wat Pathum Wanaram.  Ms Phayao said she had been invited to give information about the mysterious death of her daughter, Kamolket.  She said that it was the first time she had been summoned to testify before the TRC.  Kamolket was among six people who were found dead at the temple after the protest crackdown on May 19.  Ms Phayao yesterday slammed the Department of Special Investigation and its investigation of the six deaths.  She said DSI investigators had questioned her when they wanted information but had not kept a record of her statements.” She adds: “I never expected anything from the DSI anyway…”.

Update 1: A footnote really. Quayle left his diplomatic post and went off to an “honorary” position with one of Thailand’s biggest companies, Thai Beverage, owned by tycoon and royalist Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi. See how The Nation reported it.

Update 2: Read Prachatai’s reproduction of the statement for the House of Lords by Santipong Injan, “who lost his right eye during the clash on 10 April last year, has been denied visa by the British Embassy in Bangkok on grounds of the lack of sufficient fund, despite an official invitation to testify before the House of Lords.”





Updated: Wealth, royal and other

2 09 2010

Despite all of the bleating from business in Thailand regarding the red shirt protests in March, April and May, 91 dead and thousands injured in violent government crackdowns, all of the gloom about tourism falling and so on, the Thai economy – measured by the value of the baht, exports and the stock market – has done exceptionally well. As Forbes points out, the  SET 50 Index is up 20% since last year at this time.

Each year Forbes ranks Thailand’s wealthiest as “calculated using share prices and exchange rates as of Aug. 20. For privately held assets we estimated what they would be worth if public, using information from the Thailand Ministry of Commerce and other sources. This ranking, unlike the Forbes billionaires list, includes numerous family fortunes. Dhanin Chearavanont, for instance, is valued by himself in the billionaire ranks but counted here [in the Forbes listing] with his three brothers.”

The top-10 in the Forbes ranking for 2010 is:

1. Dhanin Chearavanont, US$7.0 billion

2. Chaleo Yoovidhya, US$4.2 b.

3. Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, US$4.15 b.

4. Chirathivat family, US$2.9 b.

5. Krit Ratanarak, US$1.7 b.

6. Aloke Lohia, US$1.25 b.

7. Chamnong Bhirombhakdi, US$1.2 b.

8. Thongma Vijitpongpun, US$1.15 b.

9. Vichai Maleenont, US$1.11 b.

10. Isara Vongkusolkit, US$1.1 b.

Forbes points out that 30 of the 40 on their full list “of the richest added to their fortunes” in the past year. Topping the list this year is “Dhanin Chearavanont, whose conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group has seen the value of its stock assets more than double over the past year…”.

Even the owners of the burned down Central World – the Chirathivat family – did very well and remain ranked at No. 4. Liquor tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi comes in at No. 3 and the Singha beer family Bhirombhakdi rank 7th. PPT picked these names out, at 1, 3, 4, and 7 because of their previous mentions at this blog for political connections with an support to the monarchy. They are core, card-carrying members of the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime and core members of the royalist elite. There are several more on the list of 40.

Of course, eagle-eyed readers will note that the wealthiest family in Thailand is missing from the list. That’s because the they appear on a very special list at Forbes that we posted on in July: “Thailand’s royal family again tops Forbes’ richest royals list. Forbes says: “Thailand’s King Bhumibol remains the world’s richest royal for the third year in a row, despite his country’s riots and turmoil. Royal assets are held under Thailand’s Crown Property Bureau, which benefited from stock market and real estate gains in 2009. As a result, his fortune remains stable at $30 billion…”. That’s more than 4 times the wealth of the Chearavanont family, at No. 1 above.

Update: That other wealthy Thai-in-exile, Thaksin Shinawatra (no. 23 on Forbes’ list) has turned up in Africa, with confirmed meetings with Nelson Mandela and his former wife Winnie. He is said to be involved with diamonds.





Updated: Football and politics

13 08 2010

PPT realizes that the story has been widely reported, but we want to add some information to the story regarding the King Power-Asian Football Investments reported purchase of Football League club Leicester City. The Financial Times says this:

What is it about Thai billionaires and British football clubs?

First Thaksin Shinawatra – telecoms magnate turned prime minister turned international fugitive – bought Manchester City and now Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn, whose family owns duty free outlet King Power, has taken over Football League club Leicester City.

The continent is obsessed with football, and especially British football. Step into a taxi anywhere from Bali to Beijing and once nationality has been established, the conversation takes a familiar swerve: “That Wayne Rooney…”.

So who is Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn?

Raksriaksorn heads Asian Football Investments, a consortium that includes Milan Mandaric, who bought the club three years ago and is the son of Vichai Raksriaksorn, the politically well-connected founder of King Power. The company holds the lucrative monopoly on duty free sales in Thailand.

There is no formal word on how much the consortium paid, but the Thai media put the price tag at around Bt2bn.

In some ways the deal makes sense. King Power had already signed a three-year shirt sponsorship deal with Leicester, and it is advertising that draws in the Asian dollars.

Thaksin, the billionaire-turned-political-exile, bought Manchester City in 2007, shortly after he lost the prime minister’s office in a military coup. He only owned the club for year before selling out to Abu Dhabi interests, who then humiliatingly dumped him as the club’s honorary chairman in 2009, saying that it was “inappropriate” to have a politician convicted of corruption in such a high-profile role.

Let’s hope there are no more own goals for Team Thailand.

PPT has commented briefly in the past about the links between Vichai Raksriaksorn and notorious Buriram godfather-politician, blue shirt benefactor and key coalition “member” Newin Chidchob. Let us reiterate some of the points made in earlier posts (by doing a bit of cut-and-pasting):

Back in September 2009, we commented on Police Lt-General Somyos Phumphanmuang taking over the investigation of the People’s Alliance for Democracy occupation of the airports.  Lt-General Somyos was said to be “close to Newin Chidchob, the de facto leader of Bhum Jai Thai Party, and Vichai Raksriaksorn, owner of King Power, which runs the ‘duty free’ outlet at airport.” Suvarnabhumi airport’s monopoly duty free operations – granted under Thaksin Shinawatra’s government – have been under scrutiny recently (try Googling “Suvarnabhumi scams”) and King Power’s Vichai Raksriaksorn has been ranked as one of Thailand’s richest by Forbes. Chang Noi mentioned him recently and King Power’s SEC listing is here.

Later, in February this year, PPT reported on how Newin had promoted his Phum Jai Thai Party as a monarchy-loving and monarchy-protecting party promising a Thaksin Shinawatra-like return to the good economic times. Newin appears regularly at royal-related events, promoting clumsy and obvious kinds of royal propaganda. But it is blue for his party and for the royal he seems to be most keen to support.

Related, Newin bought one of Thailand’s major league football teams. Newin is the chairman of Buri Rum-Provincial Electricity Authority FC having paid a considerable amount for it. Of course, its kit is blue. Its sponsors are Chang Beer and King Power.

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi is the owner of Chang. He is well known as one of Thailand’s wealthiest men but has been reasonably publicity shy. Lycos Retriever has some details. There’s also a chapter on him in Pasuk and Baker’s Thai Capital published in 2008. Family details are available here. He has good bureaucratic contacts through his liquor and beer businesses. Charoen has been a generous donor to royal activities. He is remarkably powerful and has huge cash flow, which makes him a valuable political ally.

The King Power link to Newin has been known for several years. Vichai Raksriaksorn has been one of Newin’s strongest supporters and he is wealthy, politically active and a big supporter of things royal. He is the one credited with having “plagiarized” the Lance Armstrong plastic bracelets in Thailand and made them Long live the king bracelets and raised a fortune that he handed over to the palace. 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. Vichai loves teaming up for polo with Britain’s Princes Charles and William and being pictured with them in Hello magazine.

To follow some of these links, PPT suggests looking at the Thai-language edition of the U.K.’s Hello magazine which regularly highlights royals, the rich (Charoen’s son’s engagement and wedding was covered in an earlier issue) and polo. An earlier advertisement for a 20 February 2010 fund-raising polo game called the Queen’s Cup, for “ladies,” featured M.L. Piyapas Bhirombhakdi, lady-in-waiting to the queen.

So the purchase of Leicester City should probably be seen as part of a larger money-making venture that, if successful, might well enrich Vichai and his family, but is also sure to provide a link to Buriram and, inevitably, the sordid world of Newin’s politics.





Suspicions

28 07 2010

There have only been a few stories that caught PPT’s attention in the past couple of days amidst by-elections, a bomb blast, the DSI trading accusations with red shirts and others, Thaksin Shinawatra’s birthday, flash protests by red shirts, and an apparently never-ending stream of stories regarding Princess Sirindhorn’s latest visit to China – seemingly essentially a holiday – that finished on 23 July but still screening long portions of the royal news four days later.

Some of the stories have raised questions for us, although PPT knows little more than what is reported in the media. We thought it might be useful to list them.

The first story relates to 28 July as Prince Vajiralongkorn’s birthday and he turns 58. As usual, newspapers have little advertisements that double as birthday felicitations to the prince. PPT only purchased the Bangkok Post, which had a one-page tribute and a series of the company-sponsored adverts. The whole thing is pretty low-key, kicked off with a large color picture of the prince at Wat Phra Kaew yesterday.

As PPT went through the color adverts, we noted they were from: Thai Airways, Boon Rawd Brewery, the Central group (the largest greeting, being a full page), CP Group and one all in Thai from Thai Beverage. The latter also posted a very large billboard celebrating the prince near Pan Fah Bridge (see the picture here). On the same day, PPT was reading The Bangkok Massacres: A Call for Accountability produced by Thaksin’s representatives, Amsterdam & Peroff LLP. On page 16, the report states: “The families controlling some of Thailand’s largest economic empires — among them Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn Bank, Thai Beverage, and TPI Polene — became fierce opponents of Thaksin.”

Maybe PPT was asleep at the wheel, but we hadn’t registered Thai Beverage as a major opponent previously. The company belongs to Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, the liquor, beer and land tycoon. Charoen has been pretty secretive. There’s a chapter on him by Nuolnoi Treerat in Pasuk and Baker’s Thai Capital After the 1997 Crisis (Silkworm). Recently he has been seen sponsoring royal events, including one of Princess Chulabhorn’s ventures. If Charoen has signed up with the royalists, then he has huge wealth and networks to build political support.

A second story is in the Bangkok Post and considers what is designated the “alleged ‘plan’ by Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij to change the current yuppiephone concession contracts…”. Then this is slipped in: “mortally wound Shin Corp and its No 1 network Advanced Info Service although that’s not the purpose, perish the thought…”. Given the “plan” is from Korn, a major yellow supporter, maybe this is the purpose. The story goes on to say that the “plan” has “thrown business, government, regulators and even the Senate into a tizzy; the kindest people said Mr Korn had good intentions, lousy planning; others were not so charitable; they noted that his plan to issue AIS, Dtac of Norway and True Move of Thailand with 15-year licences was highly questionable in legal terms…”.

The same column reminds us that Juti Krairiksh, said to be “minister of Internet Censorship in Thailand (MICT)” as well as “sniffing out dodgy websites” has “bragged that one of his greatest achievements was the arrest of three people who posted information critical of the monarchy.”

The third story relates to the Big C bombing and the Bangkok Post story that the “emergency decree will remain in place, at least in Bangkok, … Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva says.” Abhisit said that “some parties were determined to carry out dangerous acts and it was the duty of the authorities to try to stop them. That meant they needed the proper legal tools.” Proper legal tools mean the power to detain and anything else the government seems to want to do to opponents.

Just a day before, in the venerable Bangkok Post, Abhisit’s motor-mouthed personal spokesman Thepthai Senapong had attacked critics of the imposition of the emergency decree, saying the bombing proved that the decree was necessary. He added: “The old saying that there is a calm before the storm is still worth considering…”. There’s little doubt that the hardliners in the government, like Thepthai, want the emergency decree in place for a lot longer, benefit from every incident. Much of the cabinet is very twitchy about “security” and, as they have admitted, personally frightened.

The fourth and final story, also in the Bangkok Post, was buried down on about page 4, and the headline suggested to PPT that the Ministry of Justice was going to investigate allegations that a bribe attempt was made in the Department of Special Investigation missing jewellery scandal of a few days ago. But, no. The Justice Ministry was launching an investigation into the rumours themselves!

The rumours were that the “owner of a shop who complained three pieces of jewellery had disappeared from a Department storeroom had been offered 300,000 baht to retract her accusation.”

The “secretary to the justice minister, Fuangwit Aniruttaewa, said it was possible that the claims the jewellery had disappeared were the work of certain people in the ministry who wanted to discredit the justice minister and DSI director-general Tharit Pengdit.” Remarkably, Fuangwit disclosed that an “investigation” had “found the jewellery said to be missing from the DSI storeroom had not disappeared at all. The owner of the store, identified only as Ms Chayaphon, had been told the items had been located.”

Apparently, the three items had just been … well, we don’t know. Hanging off some rich lady perhaps? Miraculously, they have turned up! So what was going on inside the DSI that caused the jewellery to be lost and found at about the same time?








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 139 other followers