Business and The Dictator

22 09 2018

PPT has said some things about academics, who should know better, having international conferences in Thailand.

Business, of course, is different. For all the talk of stuff like “sustainability,” “corporate social responsibility” and “human rights,” most business people really couldn’t give a fig and just look to the bottom line.

Dealing with dictators is not difficult for them, so long as a profit can be turned. Naturally enough, in Thailand, domestic business has been supportive of individual generals, coups and military juntas over the decades, and support for the current regime has been enthusiastic, not least from those who funded the PAD and then the PDRC.

Even so, The Dictator must be ecstatic to see the Forbes announcement that, and we use its words: “His Excellency General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand, and some 40 prominent global business leaders and entrepreneurs are confirmed to speak at the 18th annual Forbes Global CEO Conference, which will take place in Bangkok from October 30-31, 2018.”

The general “deliver a keynote address in front of an audience of global business luminaries and thought leaders” about:

the theme of ‘The World Reboots’, this year’s conference will focus on how CEOs, companies and countries are confronting challenges and seizing opportunities arising from accelerating disruption. Some liken this era to the fourth global revolution, after mechanization, mass production and digitalization. The world in 4.0 mode will affect how companies are built and led, where money is made or lost, the role of governments, and how all of us live, work and play.

That a dullard like Prayuth even consider such a topic is testing the limits of credulity, but we guess someone else will write the stuff he says.

But then again, the list of “luminaries” is hardly stellar. It includes many of the junta-loving Thai elite:

Today, Forbes announced new speakers including, Chartsiri Sophonpanich, President of Bangkok Bank; Suthiphand Chirathivat, Executive Director, ASEAN Studies Center, Chulalongkorn University and Executive Director, Central Group; William E. Heinecke, Chairman and Group CEO of Minor International; Ho Kwon Ping, Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings; Peter Moore, Chief Executive Officer of Liverpool FC; JP Gan, Managing Partner at Qiming Venture Partners; Harald Link, Chairman of B. Grimm; Goh Choon Phong, Chief Executive Officer of Singapore Airlines; Carrie Jones-Barber, Chief Executive Officer of Dawn Foods; Tan Min-Liang, Chairman and CEO of Razer; Peter Sands, Executive Director at The Global Fund; Shobana Kamineni, Executive Vice Chairperson of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd; Gary White, Chief Executive Officer of Water.org and WaterEquity; Jim Walker, Chief Economist at Asianomics Group and Parag Khanna, Managing Partner at FutureMap.

So perhaps the idea is that the Chirathivats, Heineckes, Links, Sophanpanichs are just getting their business buddies along and are paying for The Dictator’s propaganda and helping him with his election campaigning:





Bangkok Post capitulates on free expression

14 05 2018

This morning the Bangkok Post had an editorial on press freedom: “Censorship must go.”

Presumably this editorial was approved if not written by editor Umesh Pandey.

Prompted by the suspension of Voice TV, the editorial said things like:

Censorship by this regime began the day of the coup — May 22, 2014. At that time, martial law was in the hands of the Peace and Order Maintaining Command (POMC). The junta closed hundreds of community radio stations and effectively shut down all Thai broadcasting, as well as many foreign stations repeated locally. Eventually, all national broadcasters were allowed to resume, including Peace TV. Since then, the pro-Thaksin station, fronted by the top names of the red shirt movement, has been shut for various periods by the intrusive NBTC. By 2015, Prime Minister and junta chief Prayut Chan-o-cha made the unconstitutional decision to give the NBTC the power to censor and ban any radio or TV broadcaster.

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are not in the constitution to protect parroting of the government line, repeating what official spokesman say or reprinting government or big-business press releases. Such publication and broadcast needs no protection. Extraordinary laws protecting the media and citizens’ speech are necessary to protect the opposition, dissidents and unpopular voices and views. One needn’t agree with a single word or opinion by Peace TV to disagree with government-approved decision to force it off the air.

By the time of the editorial was being read locally, Umesh was gone as editor. We are not saying that this particular editorial is the reason he’s been removed from his post. However, Umesh managed to improved the Post as editor, making it more like a real newspaper and being more critical of the junta than under his predecessor and re-establishing the Post as a newspaper that was worth reading.

Social media commentary suggests the Post’s owners and directors have been pressured by the military dictators to get rid of Umesh and this more critical reporting. Then again, perhaps the fabulously wealthy tycoon owners and directors prefer a newspaper that is junta-friendly. It isn’t the first time the Post has buckled on freedom of expression.





Updated: An update on the RR case and its “reporting”

10 03 2017

A couple of days ago we posted on the floundering Rolls Royce corruption investigation. We noted that the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) was thinking that a subcommittee to investigate allegations of bribery was the way to go. Committees in Thailand usually mean that someone wants an investigation buried.

But, behold! In The Nation yesterday we read that a subcommittee had been formed and that it did something. The headline was: “Thaksin’s ex-ministers to be questioned over Rolls-Royce bribery scandal.” And there was a photo concocted by The Nation.

We read on as the “journalists” and “editors” came up with this:

The anti-graft agency will interrogate former transport minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit and his ex-deputy Vichet Kasemthongsri as part of its ongoing investigation into the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal.

Sansern Poljieak, secretary-general of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), said on Thursday that its nine commissioners have set up a subcommittee to probe individuals involved in the purchase of seven Rolls-Royce engines for Thai Airways International aircraft between 2004 and 2005.

Hold on, just those two years? Didn’t the allegations go back to the very early 1990s?

Well, yes, and The Nation unhelpfully states:

A total of 26 people were found to be involved with the purchase, including Suriya, Vichet, 15 board members of Thai Airways at the time, and nine members of the national airline’s long-term investment subcommittee….

But who? Not a word. What we are told is that the “NACC had found that Rolls-Royce was unfairly favoured in the bidding for THAI’s aircraft engines between 2004 and 2005.”

Again, just those two years? What is going on?

We guess a couple of things. First, if something must be done about this corruption, make sure that it is mainly about political enemies. Second, The Nation has been vigorously anti-Thaksin for many years, and this is just one way of using the (military) boot to further that. Two of 26 are singled out and named.

It may not be “false news,” but it is remarkably unprofessional.

When we turned to a story in the Bangkok Post, we learned more. The NACC did provide names and The Nation just decided to be politicized in its reporting.

The Post is a little more professional in its reporting, indicating that the 26 names are simply lists of all the “names of ministers, all board directors and all members of the long-term investment subcommittee of THAI at the time.” It is a shopping list and not a list of those investigated. One of those listed is already deceased!

The others listed by the NACC are:

…15 are former THAI directors led by Thanong Bidaya, former chairman; Srisook Chandrangsu, vice-chairman (deceased); and Somchainuek Engtrakul, vice-chairman.

The remaining board directors are ACM Kongsak Wanthana, Chai-Anan Samudavanija, Thirachai Vutthitham, Thatchai Sumit, Borwornsak Uwanno, Chartsiri Sophonpanich, Vichit Suraphongchai, Viroj Nualkhair, Pol Gen Sant Sarutanon, Prof Dr Suchai Charoen Rattanakul, Olarn Chaipravat and Kanok Abhiradee.

The others are former members of THAI’s subcommittee on long-term investments led by Mr Thanong as adviser, Srisook as chairman (deceased) and Mr Kanok as vice-chairman.

The other former members of the subcommittee are Kobchai Sriwilas, Tassani Suthas Na Ayutthaya, Suthep Suebsantiwong, Kaweephan Ruangpaka, Fg Off Veerachai Sripa, Wg Cdr Supachai Limpisawat, Fg Off Chinavut Naratesenee, Charnchai Singtoroj and Sangngern Pornpaibulsathit.

There’s some interesting names there, including a scion of one of Bangkok’s wealthiest families (Chartsri of the Bangkok Bank), yellow-shirt ideologue Chai-Anan, multiple charter drafter and dedicated royalist Bowornsak, and several others of the “great” and the “good.”

Now why didn’t The Nation think to mention them or include them in a Photoshopped photo?

But there’s more. The Post also reports:

Notably, the list is limited to those linked to the purchases of Rolls-Royce engines and spare engines during 2004-05. They do not include those involved in the two rounds of purchases made earlier in 1991-92 and 1992-97 identified by the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) report on the Rolls-Royce case.

The Nation seemed to miss that point. The question is why is that the NACC seems uninterested in the others? We don’t think one needs to have the intellect of Einstein to hazard a guess.

Update: So maybe The Nation wasn’t so unprofessional…. We maybe owe them an apology, for a Khaosod story throws a third spin on the reporting. That report states:

Of the 31 ministerial officials who served during the years Rolls-Royce said it paid bribes to Thai officials, only two were implicated Friday following seven weeks of investigation by the national anti-graft agency.

And the two were, it says, the two former Thaksin era ministers.

The report states: “The graft agency said there’s not enough evidence linking the other 29 high-ranking officials to the graft, which spanned 13 years.”

That would be remarkable! As the report states: “Those two [the ministers implicated], as it turned out, served under former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the leader of a political dynasty the current military government has sought to dismantle.” Yep, remarkable!

But then the report backtracks and says more evidence is being sought on the others named (in the Bangkok Post report above).

And, by the way, the NACC claims to still have nothing from Britain’s SFO, so the “implications” seem drawn without the necessary evidence.

At this point it can’t be just PPT that is getting confused, but maybe that’s the point of the manner the NACC conducts its (political) work.





Big business, wealth, royal connections and fines

21 03 2016

Big business supported the coup and the junta. It supported notions of anti-corruption, so long as it was elected politicians who were in the firing line. We wonder how it is doing now?

At ThailandBusinessNews it is reported that “top executives and shareholders of five companies listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand for insider trading…”. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) pursued insider trading for the second time in three months “on top managers who have abused their power in publicly traded firms for their own benefit or for their accomplices.”

Insider trading has long been normal in Thailand, as it has been in many Asian bourses and internationally as well.

In December, the SEC hit “four top executives of CP All Plc, Thailand’s biggest convenience store operator, with hefty financial penalties. For more details, see the story at AEC News Today. The company, one of Thailand’s whales and under the Chearavanont family’s Charoen Phokphand Group, ignored the fines and allowed the executives to continue in their positions. CP has long had connections with the palace but has also been wiling to bet on all sides of politics.

Now, the SEC has “fined top executives and shareholders of five companies listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand…”. The report has details on Siam Makro:

It fined Korsak Chairasmisak, chairman of the executive committee, Piyawat Titasattavorakul and Pittaya Jearavisitkul, two vice-chairmen of the executive committee, and Athueck Asvanund, the firm’s chief legal officer, a total of 33.34 million baht for using inside information to buy shares in Siam Makro Plc.

At its website, the company has a 13-page “good corporate governance” document. Its board includes three scions of the Chearavanont family and the chairman of the board is none other than Asa Sarasin, and a board member of royal-dominated companies and other CP companies. Asa retired as secretary-general of the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary in 2012, having held the position for 12 years.

Another hit in this bout of insider trading crackdowns is also a business whale:

On Wednesday, the regulator said it had banned Chai Sophonpanich, chairman of Bangkok Insurance Plc (BKI), from being a director at Bangkok Life Assurance (BLA) for three years for his involvement in insider trading. He has also been barred from working in capital markets for the same period. The ban took effect yesterday, but he is not prohibited from working at BKI.

The Criminal Fining Committee has imposed a fine of 500,000 baht on Chai Sophonpanich for disclosing inside information for other persons to purchase shares of Bangkok Insurance Public Company Limited (BKI).

Following a referral from the Stock Exchange of Thailand, the SEC’s further inspection has revealed that Chai, then chairman and chairman of the executive board of directors of BKI, proposed a dividend payment plan for BKI shareholders at the ratio of five existing shares to two dividend shares, on top of the normal dividend payment plan for the operating performance of 2013.

This was material information that would have supported an upward trend of the BKI share price. Chai disclosed such inside information to other persons who purchased BKI shares during 24-25 February 2014 before the information became publicly known on 28 February 2014. Such action was deemed taking an unfair advantage of other people.

The Sophonpanich family has been one of Thailand’s leading business families since the late 1940s. It operates a related family in Hong Kong, involved in banking, politics and other businesses.

Other executives found guilty of insider trading practices by the SEC were:

… Somyos Anantaprayoon, current chairman of WHA Corporation Plc, who was fined 500,000 baht for telling two newspapers — with the articles published on Oct 27, 2014 — that the company was in talks to acquire a listed company worth 50 billion baht, though such information had not yet been made public.

The Criminal Fining Committee has fined Somyos Anantaprayoon for dessiminating news that may have led other persons to understand that the share price of WHA Corporation Plc. (WHA) would rise or fall, and such information had not been disclosed to the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET).

Following a referral from the SET and the SEC’s further inspection, it was found that Somyos, then Chairman, CEO and a major shareholder of WHA, had released news to the public through two media publications issued on 27 October 2014 with the key message that WHA was negotiating a business deal worth approximately 50 billion baht to take over a listed company that had long been established for more than 20 years in the same industry as WHA with a multiple P/E of 10.

His misconduct with regard to the dessimination of facts that had not yet been disclosed to the SET and contained material information that could have influenced investors’ decision making and the price movements of WHA shares being traded on the SET, was in violation of Section 239 and liable to the penalites under Section 296 of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1992. He was imposed a criminal fine of 500,000 baht

He’s one of the founding family of WHA. WHA has a 4-page code of conduct.

Another group hit is the family-controlled Siam Global House, with its boss Witoon Suriyawanakul listed by Forbes as entering Thailand’s richest list in 2013:

… Witoon Suriyawanakul, chairman of the management committee and director of Siam Global House (Global), and three other shareholders, who were given a combined fine of 25.3 million baht for insider trading.

The SEC found that Mr Witoon bought 8.02 million shares and 3.5 million units of warrants of Global from June 29 to Aug 23, 2012 using accounts of people who have a relationship with him in order to take advantage of inside information regarding SCG Distribution’s planned acquisition of Global. The other three shareholders were viewed as accomplices. The acquisition was disclosed to the public on Aug 27, 2012.

The Criminal Fining Committee has imposed a total fine of 25,322,064.39 on four offenders for using insider information to purchase ordinary shares and warrants of Siam Global House Public Company Limited (GLOBAL).

The four offenders are: (1) Witoon Suriyawanakul, (2) Kunnatee Suriyawanakul, (3) Apilas Suriyavanakul, and (4) Kriangkai Suriyawanakul.

All are from the founding family. The deal that was considered insider trading had a connection to the royal-controlled Siam Cement:

Following a referral from the Stock Exchange of Thailand, the SEC’s further investigation has revealed that Witoon and the three other persons in the same group purchased GLOBAL shares and GLOBAL-W warrants and gained benefits from such transactions. Witoon, who was chairman of the management committee of GLOBAL, had the decision making power over the terms and conditions of an agreement between GLOBAL and SCG Distribution Co., Ltd. (SCG), a wholely owned subsidiary of The Siam Cement Public Company Limited, with regard to SCG’s plan to hold at least 30 percent of GLOBAL’s total voting shares by purchasing GLOBAL ordinary capital shares through a private placement.

In this regard, SCG would make a partial offer of GLOBAL shares, which was expected to increase business strength for GLOBAL.

Making the most of being close to the royal center.

As the report makes clear, most of those found guilty “are from the country’s richest families.” The Forbes’ 2015 list of Thailand’s 50 richest has this:

– Mr Chai’s half brother, Chatri Sophonpanich, was ranked 14th with estimated assets of US$1.5 billion (about 52 billion baht)

– Mr Somyos and his then-wife Ms Jareeporn together were ranked 32nd with estimated assets of $765 million

– Witoon Suriyawanakul was ranked 48th and worth $470 million

The Chearavanont family was worth ranked 1st, worth US$14.4 billion.

It seems that the rich never have enough.

By the way, for interest, insider trading in other places seems to sometimes draw bigger penalties: In the US, 11 years in prison and fined a criminal and civil penalty of over $150 million; in the US, $8.8 million fine; and in Australia, more than 8 years in jail.





Updated: Political crisis and the rich

7 06 2014

The 14 June 2014 issue of Forbes lists the 50 richest Thais/Thai families. With all of the political turmoil in Thailand in recent years, most of it claimed or asserted to be in support of the wealthy elite – recall the remarkable Vice clip of rich dipsticks in Ferraris – it might be thought that the wealthiest might have seen a decline in their fortunes. After all, the economy has struggled, several of the richest families kicked in loot to back the anti-democrats, and things just haven’t seemed conducive for the rich to add hugely to their fortunes. So what has happened?

Most years PPT has posted a list of the wealthiest, always noting that the list leaves off the wealthiest family. That’s the “Mahidols,” also known as the royal family. In 2011, the Forbes list was:

  1. Dhanin Chearavanont,  $7.4 billionmoneybags
  2. Yoovidhya family, $5b
  3. Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi,  $4.8b
  4. Chirathivat family, $4.3b
  5. Ratanarak family,  $2.5b
  6. Aloke Lohia,  $2.1b
  7. Bhirombhakdi family,  $2b
  8. Vichai Maleenont,  $1.5b
  9. Isara Vongkusolkit & family,  $1.4b
  10. Praneetsilpa Vacharaphol & family,  $1.05b

The combined wealth of this top 10 was $32.05 billion, still quite a lot less than the royal family’s Crown Property Bureau.

What does the list look like in 2014? With a little adding together of the same families listed twice and lengthening to show changes, it is:

  1. Sirivadhanabhakdi family, $12.9bmoney
  2. Chirathivat family, $12.1b
  3. Dhanin Chearavanont, $11.5b
  4. Yoovidhya family, $9.9b
  5. Ratanarak family, $5.1b
  6. Chaiyawan family, $3.9b
  7. Bhirombhakdi family, $2.8b
  8. Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth, $2.3b
  9. Vichai Maleenont, $1.7b
  10. Shinawatra family, $1.7b
  11. Chatri Sophonpanich, $1.6b
  12. Thirakomen family, $1.5b
  13. Thongma Vijitpongpun, $1.4b
  14. Prayudh Mahagitsiri & family, $1.4b
  15. Keeree Kanjanapas, $1.4b
  16. Bencharongkul & family, $1.3b
  17. Aloke Lohia, $1.2b
  18. Osathanugrah family, $1.2b
  19. Wichai Thongtang, $1.1b
  20. Isara Vongkusolkit & family, $1.1b

Praneetsilpa Vacharaphol & family dropped to No. 25 on the list but increased its wealth to $1.1b. Of the top 10 families in 2011, all but the Vongkusolkit family had increased their wealth, most of them very substantially.

By 2014, the combined wealth of the top 10 on the list had rocketed to $63.9 billion. We have no way of knowing what the current assets of the royals and CPB are at present – they don’t have to provide such trivial details to the public. All we can note is that the wealth of the top 10 is now about double the 2011 assets of the CPB.

The wealth of the Shinawatra family increased 4.25 times between 2011 and 2014, outstripping the growth of the top 10. However, others did well to. The Chirathivat family wealth increase by about 3 times and the Chaiyawan family at about the same rate as the Shinawatra family.

Update: Our writer yesterday has been admonished and, in the spirit of “good order,” was made to stand outside her condo displaying a dangerous 3-fingered salute for neglecting to link this post about the richest with those who were thought to have funded the anti-democrat movement. He is truly sorry.





PADocrat propaganda

27 08 2013

At The Nation there was a recent and interesting interview with Democrat Party member Kalaya Sophonpanich, a scion of the fabulously wealthy banking family. She has recently been pretending to be a political activist, being:

… among the first leading Democrat [Party] figures to appear on the anti-government People’s Army stage at Lumpini Park on August 18. Two days earlier, she joined Democrat MPs Kasit Piromya, Nipit Intarasombat and Chalermchai Srion to meet People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leaders to talk about forming an alliance. In January 2006, she joined a PAD march from Lumpini Park to Government House to pressure then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra into resigning.

Why Kalaya, Kasit, Nipit and Chalermchai? She says: “We have been friends for a long time and always talk together. If we have the same ideas and same purpose to overthrow ‘Thaksin’s regime’, we should fight together seriously.” PAD and the ‘crats as long term comrades is not news to anyone who watched Kasit and Kalaya chanting for PAD.

On PAD pushing the Democrat Party to quit parliament and join a mass protest does not mean “the end of our relationship. The Democrats [she means the Party] can join with anybody who loves Thailand.”

Bizarrely, Kalaya believes it is the government “becoming more aggressive,” not her own party’s thuggish behavior that is aggressive. Even more bizarrely, she confuses the Democrat Party for the current government when she blathers “when you fight the government and lose, they will put you in jail for sure.”

And finally, she reckons the Democrat Party is broke! With a bunch of multimillionaire backers, she seems lost in a fantasy of self-delusion.

The Nation confirms that the PAD remain onside with the Democrat Party, stating:

Although the leadership of the anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy had decided to step down, they would resume their fight against the Thaksin regime when the time is right, he said. PAD supporters have approached the Democrat Party about working together to campaign against the government…

Meanwhile, at Arabian Business, it seems the Democrat Party propagandists have decided that self-delusion can be bolstered by simply making stuff up.

The Democrat Party’s propaganda arm, Blue Sky TV, has claimed that Thaksin was “threatened by Al Qaeda in a clip posted on YouTube.” While every responsible source has said the video was a fake, Blue Sky not only used it but has added a claim “that authorities in the Gulf state had asked him [Thaksin] to leave…” the UAE because of it.

The Democrat Party mouthpiece presented no evidence at all. We guess that ASTV staff are busy helping Blue Sky make stuff up.

 





ICC in Bangkok V

6 11 2012

Guess which English-language newspaper is opposed to the International Criminal Court having jurisdiction on the 2010 events that saw more than 90 killed, mostly red shirt protesters, and some 2,000 injured, also mostly red shirts?

Yes, too easy. Of course, it is the Bangkok Post. As we have pointed out several times of late, this newspaper has been stoic in its bias in support of the Democrat Party and of former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva.

In an editorial, the Post shouts loudly that Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul’s consideration of granting the ICC jurisdiction in investigating the crackdowns in 2010 is hopelessly flawed.

It begins with a claim that the minister “has broken both the spirit and the letter of international relations in his proposal…” and adds that ICC jurisdiction “violates the underpinnings of Thai law, including the constitution.” It doesn’t explain how this is so. Rather, the Post splutters and fumes for several paragraphs of outrage.

It charges that Surapong “has been taken in by the most radical members of the red shirts” and barks that the “idea of calling on the ICC came from extremists in the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).” These “extremists” are said to have received “ridiculous advice” by their lawyer Robert Amsterdam.

Ignoring these bleatings, the claim that the “ICC has no right, nor even the intention, to operate in a country where the law functions and citizens have legal recourse” seems remarkable when the ICC has visited Thailand as a result if the UDD petition.

The Post then looks pathetic when it claims that it “is offensive to most Thais even to suggest that the ICC is somehow superior to Thai justice…”. PPT guesses that many Thais see much of the Thai justice system as flawed, biased and corrupt. Thankfully, the ICC maintains much higher standards.

For no good reason, the Post editorial finds the idea of charging Abhisit “is a horrifying charge…. It is humourless and humiliating.”  The Post seems to think that the ICC only deals in crimes involving  “tens of thousands of defenceless people…”; perhaps the outraged writer should consider the case of William Samoei Ruto of Kenya (the ICC case is here), and then blather less about “overwrought exaggeration,” “lunacy” and “slanderous misrepresentation.”

The Post seems unable to fathom the gravity of the crimes of 2010 and sounds like it is merely protecting one of its own.

Just for interest, the Stock Exchange of Thailand lists directors of Post Publishing as including the following supporters of the Democrat Party: M.R. Pridiyathorn Devakula, Suthikiati Chirathivat, Chartsiri Sophonpanich and Supakorn Vejjajiva.

 





Who pays the parties?

28 03 2011

The Nation has an interesting (and biased) story reporting funding to the three main political parties.

For the Democrat Party, it says the Election Commission’s records show that last year the Party received just 1.38 million baht in donations from 197 people. This year, big Sino-Thai capitalists have been paying up:

Earlier this month, the party reported to the political party registrar that so far this year it had obtained Bt33.15 million from wealthy families connected to the Democrats, such as the Sophonpanichs (major shareholders of the Bangkok Bank), the Bhirombhakdis (who own the company [Boonrawd] that makes Singha Beer), the Chaisongkhrams, the Srivikorns, the Lamsams [Kasikorn Bank], the Thanadireks and Jirakitis.

There have also been donations of about Bt50 million from many of the country’s leading businesses. They include Benchachinda Holding, Yip In Tsoi, Mitr Phol Sugar, and … Advanced Info Service….

Some businesses are not just donors; relatives of their owners are in the Democrat Party. These include the Charoen Pokphand Group, Metro Machinery, and Singha Corp. Young members of some of these families are expected to contest the upcoming election as candidates of the main ruling party.

Of course, it was less than a month ago that the Democrat Party held a high-cost fundraiser that “has yet to report to the Election Commission about the sum raised but early reports put the figure over Bt700 million.” Big business was heavily represented.

Meanwhile, the coalition partner Bhum Jai Thai Party received “donations of almost Bt10 million last year, compared to as much as Bt35 million in 2009.”

The main donors are associated with Newin Chidchob and his family, including “Chiang Mai Construction – which is owned by the father-in-law of banned politician Newin Chidchob, who is regarded as the party’s de-facto leader – Sino-Thai Construction (owned by the family of party leader and Interior Minister Chaovarat Chanweerakul), and King Power.” These are the longstanding supporters.

Chaovarat’s company has done especially well from contracts for infrastructre under the Democrat Party regime.

Other supporters include:

… entertainment giant company GMM Grammy and East Water and wealthy figures with political backgrounds such as Somsak Thepsuthin, Sonthaya Khunplume, Sora-at Klinprathum, Suchart Tancharoen, and Teerapol Noprampa – who all are “political comrades” of Newin, who is believed to be pulling strings behind the party.

The story for Peua Thai Party is different, however. The Nation seems to speculate, saying that Thaksin Shinawatra remains the (assumed) biggest backer. It adds that the party “got donations of Bt15 million, according to the EC. Among the major donors were wealthy people close to Thaksin, including Virun Tejapaiboon, Ong-art Ua-apinyakul, and Pichai Naripthaphand.” It adds: “There are only a handful of regular financiers…”. It follows this up with a bunch of speculative comments.

It is clear where the Sino-Thai tycoons are putting their loot; it is with the royalist party. These days, they feel most comfortable being subordinated to the monarchy (as a symbol and the country’s biggest Sino-Thai conglomerate) and prtected by the military’s firepower.








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