Thaksin Shinawatra

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Thaksin Shinawatra
Thaksin Shinawatra

Thaksin Shinawatra (ทักษิณ ชินวัตร) (born July 26, 1949), Thai politician, is the current prime minister of Thailand and the leader of the populist Thai Rak Thai party. As head of the Shin Corporation which controls (among others) Thailand's largest mobile phone operator Advanced Info Service, he was the richest man in Thailand before transferring ownership of the company to his family.

Thaksin was born in Sankamphaeng in Chiang Mai province. He is a Hakka Thai Chinese. He graduated from the Thai Police Cadet Academy and joined the Royal Thai Police Department in 1973, but went on to obtain a Master's Degree in criminal justice from the Eastern Kentucky University in the United States, in 1975. In 1978 he received a doctorate in criminal justice at Sam Houston State University in Texas. After reaching the position of Deputy Superintendent of the Policy and Planning Sub-division, General Staff Division, Metropolitan Police Bureau, Thaksin quit the police to form the Shinawatra Computer and Communications Group in 1987. One of the group's members, Shinawatra Paging, is now Thailand's largest mobile phone operator AIS. In 1990, Thaksin made a daring but successful bid for a 20-billion baht, 20-year concession to operate the Thaicom Satellite.

Thaksin entered politics in 1994 as foreign minister in the Palang Dharma Party, promising to clean up politics. This was followed by a brief stint as Deputy Prime Minister and head of the PDP, ending in 1997 when the party imploded. In 1998, Thaksin formed his own Thai Rak Thai ("Thais Love Thais") party and started campaigning against the alleged corruption of other Thai politicians. At the January 2001 Thai elections he won a sweeping victory and became Prime Minister of Thailand.

Like Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, Thaksin has been dogged by the conflict of interest between his post as Prime Minister and his massive business interests, and in 2001 he only narrowly escaped conviction (and a 5-year ban on holding political office) for concealing financial assets. Thaksin's government has been unabashedly populist, spending money at popular causes like cheap loans to farmers and subsidized health care. Thaksin's 2003 campaign against drug dealers was alleged to amount to the extrajudicial execution of several hundred suspects, and was heavily criticized by civil rights watchdogs. There have also been complaints that Thaksin has been stacking the civil service with his relatives and business associates, for example by elevating his cousin, General Chaiyasit Shinawatra, from a remote district to Army commander-in-chief.

He was re-elected in the February 2005 elections. He won a landslide victory, with his Thai Rak Thai party sweeping 374 out of 500 seats in Parliament, while the main opposition Democrat Party lost more than a quarter of its representation, retaining only 94 seats.


"Please don't intervene. Please leave us alone. It is my job and we can cope with this matter. We are trying to explain this to foreigners. But if they do not understand or ignore our explanation, I don't care because we are not begging them for food." - 1 May 2004, in a radio address concerning crackdowns on Islamic militants.

See also

External links

Preceded by:
Chuan Leekpai
Prime Minister of Thailand
Succeeded by:

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