Friday, August 28, 2015


Forget the FIFA scandal, this is the man who owns Man City
I have reached the stage where I have given up on one of my intentions, which was to create a list of those countries in the world which are ruled by autocrats, despots, dictators, military regimes, juntas, oligarchic elites, and all the other ways in which authorities pretend to be on the side of the people and engaged in real democracy; quicker and easier, I have now realised, to draw up the inverse list, of the countries which do not fit those particular descriptions. This inverse list is, sadly, almost blank.

Thailand – or Siam as it was until 1939 - would not be on the inverse list, though it would be on another very different list, practically alone on it in fact, of those countries which cannot claim that colonialism and conquest are to blame for all their contemporary difficulties; for Thailand was never colonised, nor brought into anybody's global empire. Nor can Buddhism really bear the responsibility. Its problems are the monarchy and the military, and then the megalomaniacal aspirations of individuals, in this case Thaksin Shinawatra, who was appointed Prime Minister in 2001 to replace the military, or at least a pretense by them of doing so, by appointing a civilian while continuing to pull most of the strings behind the stage. Red-shirts versus yellow shirts became the disorder of the day immediately, the reds supporting Thaksin for the five years that he managed to stay in office, until the yellow shirts who supported the opposition became too noisy and disorderly, and the military stepped in. Thaksin fled, mostly to avoid charges of abuse of power, but the catalogue of charges awaiting him if he ever returns to Thailand include corruption, authoritarianism, lese majeste (the crime of insulting the king), tax evasion, press censorship and even treason. It should have been obvious that he was a gangster and a fraud from his naming of his party the Thai Rak Thai, which means "Thais Love Thais".

Thaksin's sister Yingluck took power in 2013, and immediately granted an amnesty to anyone who had taken part in the street protests, then changed the bill at the last moment to include political crimes, which just happened to remove from the warrant book all convictions and outstanding charges against her brother. That led to months of anti-government protests which effectively made Bangkok a no-go area for foreign tourists (Bangkok was for many years a favourite haunt of paedophiles seeking child prostitutes of both sexes). Eventually the Constitutional Court ruled against this particular form of nepotism (is there a feminine equivalent, given that nepotism properly means nephew? Neptisism possibly?), and then the military seized power again.

The blue-and-white shirted supporters of Manchester City football club in England may not be aware that the previous owner of their club was said Thaksin (actually, that is me being generous; they knew exactly who he was, and generally adored him - click here), but then most top football clubs in England are now little more than money-laundering operations, so perhaps those who didn't know won't be at all surprised to read it here.

Marks for: 2 (the number of times - in 1937 and 1968 - that Manchester City have won the Premier League title without buying their entire team with laundered money)

Marks against: 2012 (the year in which Taksin Man City beat the other money-launderers to the title)

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press

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