Saturday, December 27, 2008

Just When You Thought The Nation Couldn't Sink Any Further, It Does



The Nation


Like Thailand has experienced first-hand, Britain and its robust media may have discovered keeping track of Thaksin's business and financial transactions is not easy, if not impossible. London has kept its mouth shut on persistent rumours it recently froze some US$4.2 billion (Bt145 billion) of Thaksin's assets, which primarily had to do with his purchase and sale of the Manchester City Football Club. Neither confirmation nor denial has been made, and the stunning decision to revoke the visas of Thaksin and his former wife, Pojaman, was attributed solely to their convictions by the Thai courts.


What evidence does The Nation have that the UK froze Thaksin's assets in the UK? Typically, in its half-arsed style of tabloid journalism, The Nation relies on rumours, and rumours alone.


As the British and other Western media continue to demonise the People's Alliance for Democracy and make stinging criticism against the Thai judiciary, the military and even the highest institution, the UK government has not said a word on the asset-seizure rumours even though a clarification could go a long way to putting things in a new perspective and giving Thailand a bit more justice, which she really deserves.


Demonise the Pad? That one phrase says all you need to need know about The Nation's supplicating attitude towards the PAD. Not surprising though, since The Nation has been acting as an extension of the PAD's propaganda campaign against Thaksin for several years, if not longer.  As for the criticism towards the judiciary, the military and the monarchy, well, if the shoe fits... The hypocrites at The Nation would never dare to look under a rock when it comes to their beloved military or question a moronic ruling by the judiciary.


You want to bet that The Nation never called or asked anybody in the British government about the asset seizure.


From certain international sources, the British authorities have become very suspicious of Thaksin's business and financial dealings.


See Thanong's hilariously written, unsubstantiated gossip column about Thaksin's assets here. Thanong has taken it off the front page. I wonder why.


The first seeds of doubt allegedly came when it was discovered the money used to buy Manchester City appeared to come from everywhere - a strange thing, because Thaksin, who was abruptly ousted in a military coup, was not supposed to have sizeable assets handy abroad. Most of all, during his time as prime minister of Thailand, Thaksin never reported having assets stashed abroad. He even denied on the record any involvement with any offshore company, except Ample Rich, that was linked to him with damning evidence.


Interesting that Thaksin hasn't been indicted or prosecuted for this crime. As usual, The Nation is silent on the crime of the coup, or the substantial income of military generals and bureaucrats, who live the lives of mulit-millionaires on the pittance of a civil servant's salary.


But it is anyone's guess as to whether the UK really has frozen $4.2 billion of his assets and, in case the rumours are true, why it decided to do so. It is safe to say that freezing funds occurs everywhere, and at the end of the day frozen assets could still be returned and would not constitute evidence of wrongdoing. (The UK authorities normally give the "beneficiary owners" of frozen assets six months to step forward to declare ownership, and a satisfactory explanation results in the funds being released to the owners.)


Then what is the point of this editorial then?


But in Thaksin's case, the world is in need of some missing jigsaw-puzzle pieces before the widespread misunderstanding of Thailand runs deeper than it already does.


What exactly is this misunderstand? Of course, The Nation and the PAD are the only ones who are capable of filling in the pieces of the jigsaw. If people were smart, they wouldn't take anything The Nation writes with any seriousness at all since everything they publish is based upon rumour and unfounded innuendo.


It is somewhat ironic that Thailand must endure so much condemnation for trying to figure out what Thaksin did with his money while similar suspicions in a place where he once sought exile is going unannounced and thus remains an issue the likes of The Economist or the Financial Times is unaware of. Very little investigation has appeared in the British and other Western media about Thaksin's assets and Manchester City, and that is no surprise.


The Nation really has some balls to knock the foreign media for its reporting when The Nation's reporting has been less than  professional. The Nation has never done any serious investigative reporting on any puuyai's assets in the corporate, bureaucratic, military and political sectors.


Thailand has seen it all before. The transactions looked legitimate on the surface, and any numbers and names that did not fit were dismissed as "common practice everywhere". And when the names and numbers went beyond "not-unusual practice", they were simply too complicated and the trails simply too long to follow.


What hypocrisy! The Nation can't figure out the money laundering schemes, but blasts the international media for not doing the excellent reporting The Nation does in this regard.  In other words, The Nation thinks every media outlet in the world should drops it standards and publish what little information they have based on personal feelings, rumour and innuendo.


Thailand was wrecked because many people believed that Thaksin's election mandate and financial dealings, no matter how abnormal or downright fishy, should be treated as separate issues. When he first came to power, some said his past "honest mistakes" should be forgiven and forgotten. After those mistakes kept hounding him throughout his political tenure, there was a prominent school of thought that said "everyone does it" and so picking on Thaksin smacked of collective political jealousy and conspiracy.


Thailand was wrecked because of this lame argument? Give me a break. Who exactly made this argument? The Nation doesn't dare to do any research and quote anybody who subscribes to this "prominent school of thought."


Such an argument ignores the simple but glaring fact that while the majority of Thai politicians are not that clean, not everyone is into financial manoeuvrings as massive and complicated.


Perhaps not. But it looks like that the factions that Abhsit has aligned himself with do. Of course, we have yet to hear from The Nation regarding the current government's asset portfolio and wealth.


The Ample Rich saga, for example, involved share transfers between Thaksin and his children with money "borrowed" from Pojaman to buy her own shares to put in the offshore company. When these plots became part of the tax-free scheme in the sale of Shin Corp to Singapore's Temasek Holdings, it was obvious not everyone, let alone prime ministers who should have their countries' best interests at heart and uphold higher morals than other citizens, could engineer this kind of things.


Has Thaksin been prosecuted for this?


The Thaksin-UK relationship is crucial, because whichever way it pans out, the issue will have a great bearing on Thai politics. Now that he has been kicked out of that country, if it is because London has a certain level of ethical standards that he cannot meet, sooner or later we must be allowed to know.


The Thaksin-UK relationship is irrelevant. He doesn't even live their anymore. Kicked out of the country? He wasn't kicked out of the country. He wasn't even in the country when the visa was revoked. Not only that, Thaksin had his visa revoked based on the Ratchadapisek case. The UK seems to do this consistently. Even Martha Stewart isn't allowed in the country for her case.


For all of its complications, the Thai political crisis does have something to do with clamouring for better political standards. It is one thing to revoke the Shinawatras' visas because they were convicted in Thailand; it is another to throw them out and lock the door because they did something considered unacceptable to British principles. After all, it is the UK's "democratic maturity" that Thaksin has always spoken highly of.


The Nation just imagines shit as it goes along. The UK just doesn't lock the door and throw away the key based on principles alone. Unlike Thailand, it believes in the rule of law.


Where Thaksin Shinawatra is concerned, there are always two parallel webs of intrigue. The Western media in particular has focused mainly on only one: the so-called conspiracy to dethrone this "champion of the poor" through relentless street protests, military intervention and "unfair" exertion of judicial powers. The other side of Thaksin has somehow escaped the same intense scrutiny, even though it may provide answers to the question of why Thailand has been risking tearing itself apart over this man. It is understandable why, however, because unlocking Thaksin's financial myth, which has spread across the globe, is obviously harder than condemning the apparently unjust means to put away a democratically elected leader.


As far as The Nation is concerned, the highest form of political action is to eliminate your enemies at all costs, even if that means destroying the constitution, installing a judiocracy, disenfranchising millions of people, and illegally taking over the government house and the airports.


David said...

I suppose the advantage that liars have is that it is harder to prove a negative than a positive...

the liar says... x is true

to disprove this we have to find someone to say they know that x is not true

which means its important to get in first...

meanwhile has there been any evidence since the statement from the author of the Arabian Times article to bangkok Pundit?

Anonymous said...

today during some TV report one of Nation's commentators / anchors has said something like:
"these Red shirts - what Thaksin is their father or what? if they continue this way - I'll also call my own yellow mob ... " (guess who is that ! ;) PAD of course)

even his partner looked at him in disbelief - because it is against reporters' ethics to express their own opinions and take sides, because reporters supposed to be neutral, or at least make some efforts of pretending being neutral.

so, this guy continued his rant in the same style till his partner finally interrupted him and tried to rebuke for partisanship. commercials intermission was made, still showing two of them having argument....

I think The Nation is very alike to Fox News. :)
they surely do not lack spins and demagogy - only perhaps can't match Fox's audacity and blatant attacks on those they don't like.