Sunday, June 24, 2007

Deconstructing Nophakhun Limsamarnphun: Mouthpiece of the Government in its Case Against Thaksin

Web of suspicious transactions the Shinawatra legacy

Nophakhun Limsamarnphun

The Nation

Criminal charges filed by state officials this week against deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife over their alleged failure to disclose their shareholdings in SC Asset Plc, as well as the controversial Bt772-million purchase of a prime plot of Bangkok land from the state while Thaksin was in office, have helped shed more light on how the ex-premier could have blatantly broken several laws in the past.

I love how The Nation always accepts the government's position without question. In the US, there are dozens of court television shows on TV. The news media here doesn't accept the prosecutors case as if it is the truth. Normally both sides of the case are challenged by attorneys. But,The Nation's columnists believe their job is to propagate the government's position to the public. Has anybody been interviewed to challenge the prosecutor's case or at least question motives or evidence? Nope.

First, the latest legal action once again underlines the fact that the assets of Thaksin, his spouse and his children were falsely declared on several occasions when they were required by National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) law to make a proper disclosure.

Why didn't the news media investigate Thaksin's assets before? Under the Freedom of Information Act, The Nation could have looked up Thaksin's companies, his asset declarations, etc and done the math.

In the case of SC Assets Plc, the Department of Special Investigations also charged Thaksin and his spouse of concealing their actual holdings in the listed firm, thus violating the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) law. This time, the nominees included Win Mark, Value Investment Mutual Fund, Overseas Growth Fund and the Offshore Dynamic Fund. Previously, Ample Rich and other nominees were used in the Bt73-billion tax-free sale of Shin Corp to Temasek Holdings of Singapore that led to Thaksin's downfall. Thaksin and his spouse also allegedly hid their Shin Corp holdings until the assets were sold in early 2006.

Again, where was the news media?

Second, the allegations that Thaksin abused his power while in office are now stronger. In the Ratchadaphisek land deal, prosecutors told the court that the ex-premier violated Section 100 of the NCCC law, which bars state officials and spouses from entering into contracts with the state, including bidding for a state-owned property.

Why is The Nation spinning for the prosecutor? Regardless, I don't think Pojaman should have been buying property from the state while her husband was in power. But, I think as Bangkok Pundit pointed out elsewhere, she paid market value.

In addition, prosecutors believe that unfair competition led to the November 25, 2002 transaction in which the ex-premier's wife outbid two other rivals. For instance, the construction of high-rises on the 33-rai site was not allowed prior to the bidding. However, the ban was lifted after the ex-premier's wife won the bidding.

Was there a direct proven relationship between the change in zoning and Thaksin's influence? Also, why aren't the bureaucrats who approved all these dubious changes being interviewed by The Nation?

In the case of Shin Corp, the allegations of abuse of power are based on the fact that the market capitalisation of the Shinawatra family's holdings jumped from just over Bt20 billion to Bt73 billion over the five-year period Thaksin was in power.

If Thaksin had never become prime minister, does the possibility exist that the value of the Shin Group would have increased? Yes.

For instance, the Board of Investment granted substantial tax breaks to Shin units, such as Shin Satellite, resulting in a sharp rise in the market value of holding firm Shin Corp before it was sold to Tema-sek at a huge profit of nearly Bt50 billion for the Shinawatra family. Given this, many state agencies and market authorities appear to have been obviously disabled during the Thaksin years, including the Revenue Department for its failure to collect a huge amount of taxes on the Bt73-billion Shin sale; the SEC and the Stock Exchange of Thailand for failing to take against SC Asset Plc; and the Financial Institutions Development Fund for approving the sale of state-owned land to the ex-premier's wife.

If all of this were true, who are those people who colluded with the Shinawatras in this criminal conspiracy? Why aren't the bureaucrats being charged? Why isn't The Nation interviewing them?

Now that the ex-premier is about to take over the Manchester City football club, relevant authorities, such as the Anti-Money Laundering Organisation, may have to investigate his sources of funding for the transaction following the freeze of his assets amounting to over Bt50 billion in Thailand.

I actually agree with this. If there is undeclared money socked away in foreign bank accounts that was purposely kept hidden from the government, then that should be investigated.

The Assets Examination Committee (AEC) took the first action on June 11 by freezing Bt52 billion of Thaksin's money in 21 bank accounts. On June 18, the AEC found that Bt8.8 billion was taken out from June 4 to June 8. On June 20, it issued another order, freezing an additional Bt4.9 billion. Hence, a total of Bt57 billion out of the Bt73 billion in proceeds from the sale of Shin Corp is already frozen as authorities are tracing the remaining Bt16 billion.

Guess what? The same thing happened after the 1992 coup. What happened? The AEC was declared unconstitutional


Anonymous said...

"I love how The Nation always accepts the government's position without question. In the US, there are dozens of court television shows on TV. The news media here doesn't accept the prosecutors case as if it is the truth." - Fonzi

But The Nation had always challenged the then Thaksin Government about its runaway corruption . . . so there is no inconsistency at all here Fonzi. And if you remember Nixon, nearly every US media was going for Nixon's throat over the Watergate scandal! But why try to compare US and Thai media events when Thaksin's corruption case is unique by itself Fonzi?

"Guess what? The same thing happened after the 1992 coup. What happened? The AEC was declared unconstitutional" - Fonzi

But Fonzi your deconstructed heart, as vehemently as you try to deny it, had always been unequivocally pro-Thaksin. Because you are honest Fonzi . . when you have been bought by Thaksin, you stayed bought. Just like those very honest venal rurals, who stayed bought when they agreed to take Thaksin's handouts.

But guess what Fonzi? The 1992 coup was unpopular thus many of its actions were ruled unconstitutional. The 2006 coup remains very popular because it succeeded to remove a very dangerous divisive extrajudicially killing extremely corrupt and tax cheating Thaksin Shinawatra from power! Fonzi you should be grateful to The Nation and give them your respectful wais NOW!

Del said...

Omigosh Fonzi! Thaksin tripled his wealth while he was PM. The AEC interviewed both Thaksin's son and daughter and both answered frankly that they were clueless about the Temasek sale (allowing Thaksin to cash out his trebled wealth) although the shares were mainly in their names. Potjaman had admitted frankly that she underwrites the Thai Rak Thai party expenses for billions every year and more during elections. Snoh, the former TRT top executive, had publicly reported on how the corruption scams are being directed by Potjaman . . .

Is it Thaksin's Khmer voodoo or Thaksin's cash that keeps you Fonzi with your non-stop flatulent love affair with Thaksin Shinawatra?

sooksiam said...

Does everyone know that everytime Thaksin goes to the toilet, he does not need to use tissues? I wonder what he normally uses to sanitise his nether region. In all probability, Fonzi might know the answer.

Fonzi said...


The Nation did not produce one investigative report on Thaksin's corruption.

If you have seen it, please find it for me and I'll put it on the front of this blog.

Unknown said...

I think Fonzi's point here stands -- the Nation's columnists don't seem to do much else than regurgitate what the government tells them and that is bad journalism, pure and simple. You hear the odd whisper of investigative journalism about to take place every so often - for example, talk of how the CNS voted itself in an unprecedently huge military budget, but then Thai journalists sit on their lazy asses and don't follow it up.

Nopakhun is one of the more grievous offenders, though thankfully his column appears on a page that many people like myself just flip past without a second look these days. I used to want to read his column because of its title "Watchdog", sounded exciting, like he was "watching" something. He's not watching anything other than the fax machine for when it comes up with a press release from the Ministry of Communications.

While I may not always agree with all of Fonzi's points, I think that if this website even succeeds in making one of the columnists at that paper think a bit more about journalism and why they should show more of a respect for it, then it's worth it. (That said the Post is just as bad if not worse for having been around longer and seemingly having learned just as little).