Lobbyists Rebrand Thaksin’s Kleptocracy into “War for Democracy”
Influential people have always had the capacity to cover their steps wherever they go, especially in politics where money can either speak or silence. This can be observed in any country’s political affairs, but to have the international news agencies behind you requires a bank account far bigger than an average politician.
Not many foreigners would care about Thailand’s political problems, largely because their shortcomings won’t make the global economy flinch. What you should care about is the limited truth and manipulation by the “Big Press” which can easily shape your thoughts about something. It is another tale of world-class lobbyists working hand-in-hand with international news agencies to fulfill an agenda of a fugitive, with an entire nation’s well-being at stake.
The truth behind the limited
Billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra was a former Prime Minister of Thailand between 2001 to 2006 before he was ousted by a military coup. The reasons behind why a substantial proportion of the Thai population wanted him out (until today) was rarely ever discussed on big news agencies. Instead, we only see a man portrayed as a victim for his supposed “good will” for the country. Why do the big news agencies refuse to talk about Thaksin’s human rights violations, corruption scandals and abuse of power ?
Did the international media know about his hardcore war-on-drugs policy led to over 2,200 deaths which Human Rights Watch and The Economist claimed to be extrajudicial killing? Did the international media also know that he extended EXIM Bank’s credit loan and decreased its interest rates to Myanmar to facilitate deals for his family business? What about the corrupt Ratchada land deal? The overpriced bomb scanners he bought for the airport? Alleged vote buying? Yes, they know. So, why don’t they talk about the other side of the story?
Internally, Thaksin deployed a classical game of selling populist policies to satisfy the mass while his self-serving half abused state power for personal gains. He gained power, money and population approval despite evidences that his personal interests were shadowing the good of the country.
On the international level, the “Big Press” had the audacity to refer to him as a man who “lives in self-imposed exile”, a politically correct version of “fugitive on the run”. Instead, they presented Thaksin as a victim of Thailand’s political rift, without ever mentioning his debts from deep within his closet.
The Role Of The Lobbyist
For sure, Thailand’s political problem is not a simple war of dictatorship versus democracy. Rather, it is a war between people who abuse democracy and those who are not using democratic means to abolish the abusers. We should not ignore the whole truth of the story.
The BGR Group is one of the United States’ biggest lobbying firms, wielding power to the likes of Thanos on the “Big Press” worldwide. Who is one of their controversial clients you may ask, it’s Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck Shinawatra who was also a former Prime Minister of Thailand between 2011-14.
Thaksin’s sister Yingluck became Prime Minister in 2011 under the Pheu Thai Party, which was a successor of Thaksin’s dissolved party.
In late 2013, Yingluck and the Pheu Thai Party attempted to pass an Amnesty Bill at 4AM in the morning. If she succeeded, she would have whitewashed her brother Thaksin’s political crimes. This is already a red flag for someone who intends to restore democracy in the country.
This is by no means an assumption, as the BGR’s general counsel Daniel R. Murphy confirmed Thaksin was a client who engaged in “advocacy for democracy in Thailand”. Open Source Investigations also revealed that Thaksin received lobbying services from BGR (an extremely profitable firm) as a gift with no fees or compensation received. Lobbying firms are not known for CSRs, it’s not their line of business. So one must wonder, why?
The Pheu Thai Government used state money to pay a $30,000 monthly fee to the BGR Group lobbying firm starting from 14 September 2012 to May 2014. This amounts to approximately $630,000 (20.8 million baht). A few dots can be drawn from the gifts BGR sent to Thaksin.
After years of support, their approach for Mr. Thaksin has been clearer than ever; make the man become a symbol of democracy and a victim of politics on international news.
Democracy Must Not Have A Face
Once we wage a war for democracy represented by a face, the war is automatically unjust and biased.
This is extremely problematic from an ethical standpoint, to make it seem like one is the obvious saint whereas the other the devil. Thaksin’s supposed war for democracy must be weighed against his political crimes in the past. It is a subtle reminder that the righteous cannot be labelled as one man or woman. This is clearly exacerbated when international media illustrates Thaksin’s opponents as predominantly royalists and elites, when in truth anti-Thaksin movements range from various backgrounds fighting injustices and those who abuse democracy such as the man himself.
The BGR have fabricated a beautiful illusion of a dangerous politician into a knight in shining armor.
The threat Thaksin’s personal agendas pose to the stability and security of Thailand as seen in the past is of paramount concern, which should be equally discussed alongside his so-called “advocacy for democracy in Thailand”.
On a side note, there is no denying that Thailand is plagued by military coups ever since the country became a constitutional monarchy in 1932. At times, it has stagnated growth and was significantly authoritarian in the past. There were also times when they were satisfactory and maintained peace.
Thaksin’s fight against Thailand’s current unelected government is far more complex than it seems as both sides pose different threats to the nation’s stability at an equal (if not, greater for the former) magnitude.
Although cooperation between BGR and Thaksin’s family has been formally terminated as of May 2014, who is to say that such relations no longer exist amongst them or with other lobbying firms. Afterall, it is 2019 and the “Big Press” continues to turn a blind eye on Thaksin’s corruption cases and crimes against humanity. His on-going battle to “restore democracy” in the Southeast Asian country shall continue to cloak his dark past.
The “Big Press” should present the positives and negatives of both sides of the coin, because within a few paragraphs they can easily impact a nation’s economy and the amount of FDIs on a medium-sized country like Thailand. In one upload they can turn criminals into political refugees, kleptocracy into democracy, and wine to water. This is nothing new.
Such an act would leave Thailand’s economy in dire conditions while easily fortifying Thaksin’s claims that the economy was at its all-time-high when he was in power. This could have been part of the Big Press’s grand plan all along in this one-sided affair.