Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thaksin returns to Thailand

The former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra flew back home today for the first since he was ousted in a coup 17 months ago, and immediately surrendered to immigration police who arrested him on corruption charges.
Within minutes of stepping off a Thai Airways flight from Hong Kong, the billionaire tycoon emerged from Bangkok airport's VIP reception area, knelt down and placed his forehead on the ground.
Thousands of supporters who had gathered at the airport - some waiting overnight - cheered, sang and waved placards proclaiming: "We Love Thaksin". Looking emotional he moved to the front of his entourage and offered a traditional Thai bow, hands clasped in respect.
Police whisked him off in convoy of limousines to the supreme court to answer the corruption charge over a land deal while he was in office. He was quickly bailed for 8m baht (£132,000) pending the first hearing next month, and barred from leaving the country without the court's permission.

>>The Guardian.

Considering the column inches some of the previous news regarding his legal issues received, there has not been a great amount of coverage of Thaksin's arrest yesterday, largely I believe because whilst Thaksin being arrested would at one stage have been headline news, him being arrested on arrival in Thailand was hardly him being bundled away following a dawn raid.

In fact, his arrest turned more into a welcome home party, accompanied by political allies and drinking champagne before falling to his knees and kissing the ground upon arrival. Quite what Kelvin Etuhu and Kaspar Schmeichel made of it all in their capacity as designated 'coaches' - a strange move given the stage of the season we are at.

He also found time to give an interview to Reuters, outlining his plans to take the club to the next level and become a truly global player, and Sven was very much on side as well, giving his backing to his boss and the support he has received - particularly in the transfer market:

"Every time I meet him and the people working for him, it is the same. They want City to be bigger and better. He wants to create one of the biggest clubs in the world - and I hope that happens, of course."
The return home for Thaksin was clearly a well-planned and choreographed move, and despite him still having opponents in the country, it is clear that the charges he will face are not going to lead to him serving time in jail, and it will be extremely likely that the frozen assets will be duly returned - although not without some political manouevering and show.

This has become likely because - referring to this article in the Independent, as it appears the AEC (Asset Examination Committee) are facing difficulties in trying to make the charges stick - not least because they rely on funding from the government to operate, a government of course who (following the elections at the end of 2007) are pro-Thaksin and there are reports the AEC could well be dissolved, seeing Thaksin walk free. As one academic commentator stated "The military junta had a year to prosecute Thaksin and didn't. Their chance has gone."

The outcome does appear to be going entirely to plan for Thaksin, and is hardly a surprising outcome as he was not going to return from exile unless conditions were favourable for him to do so.

Whilst he is almost certain not to be convicted of the charges levelled against him, the Independent article does suggest it may not be entirely straightforward for him to see his entire assets released immediately.

As it was fantastically put, the newly-elected government will be wary of appearing to be too pro-Thaksin, not wanting to allow Thaksin to simply "walk straight up to a cashpoint and withdraw the lot", and I expect there to be a display of public bargaining before his assets are freed up, allowing him get on with his next stage of plans for the club.

Which could make things even more interesting.

vote it up!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dr Thaskin has drawn us as unwilling observers into a political end game developed many months past.
It s a double sided coin, on one its our interest in the football club and its owners adventures on the other its a well thought out political strategy requiring an understanding of Thai politics for us to comprehend the repercussions.
Either way he cannot lose where as we as many times before have blind faith to guide us