Thailand: Seize it all! The palaces, the shares, the diamonds, all the ill-gotten gains!

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

March 1, 2010 -- I don’t shed any tears about former Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s billions being seized by order of the Thai Supreme Court on February 26. I advocate that the billions of ill-gotten gains in the hands of the entire Thai rich: the politicians in this government, the generals, the businessmen and businesswomen, and of course the entire royal family and all their hangers-on, should be seized in the future. The rich do not have the right to accumulate wealth on the backs of the majority of hard-working Thais.

No public figures, including the king and the generals, or politicians, should hold shares or have special interests in business. This always leads to corruption. Just think about the corrupt benefits which the politicians around former US President George Bush enjoyed as a result of the illegal war in Iraq.

So if Thaksin gained from the policies of his government (and that has to be proved in a real court, not a Thai kangaroo court), then he is no different from George Bush or the other business-oriented politicians in the West. Conservative politicians who shackle trade union rights and force the public to face spending cuts and job losses because of what their mates in the banks did, are also acting in their own interests. If guilty, should they be punished?

Yes!, certainly. All of them. But is it OK to stage a military coup against them so that another faction of the corrupt rich take power?

There is one difference between the corruption of politicians and that of kings and generals. In a democracy we can throw the politicians out at election time and this is an even better standard of public scrutiny than leaving it to biased judges. The kings and generals are not subject to such public scrutiny, however. So, let's get rid of all private business interests in society and tax the rich until they are no longer richer than the general public. And let's have all public positions subject to election and instant recall.

King Pumipon has just left hospital for his palace. In my view it was timed to try to turn the public interest and media away from the Thaksin case and promote the king instead. The bombs outside Bangkok Bank were also the work of those wishing to libel the [red shirts [democracy movement].

Pumipon has deteriorations in his brain function, like most elderly people, and his hospital stay was genuine. His pneumonia and fevers were likely to be a result of infections from not being able to swallow food properly. His lungs got infected. He cannot sit up straight or walk properly even now. His speech is even more slurred and incoherent than before. As such he has become a more useful tool of the army and the conservatives. He was “urged” to be seen to talk to the Supreme Court judges, so that the conservatives could pretend that the king “ordered” their verdict. He was “asked” to leave hospital on a day when it would suit the conservatives. He was photographed in September 2006 with the junta generals. But who was telling whom what to do?

There are of course a number of questions about Pumipon’s hospital stay. Who paid for it? He is the richest man in Thailand. Did he pay out of his own pocket? Why did he stay so long? Remember that the conservative royalists kept saying that poor villagers went to the doctor “more than was necessary” after Thakin's Thai Rak Thai party's 30-baht health care scheme was introduced? Was Pumipon in hospital at the expense of the nation for longer than was necessary? He left hospital with his dog leading the way. Is it against health regulations to allow a dog into a public hospital? Or is the dog “semi-divine” too?

I say....Seize it all!! The palaces, the shares, the diamonds, all the ill-gotten gains!

[Giles Ji Ungpakorn worked in the faculty of political science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. He was forced to leave Thailand after being charged under Thailand's anti-democratic les majeste laws. He is an activist with the socialist Turn Left Thailand group. Visit and]