So, John, you work for Khun Thaksin, even if you have never met him (although he did walk by on his way to meet more interesting and important people as few weeks ago). Answer me these important questions, entirely according to your own opinion:
Q. Is he going to buy Ronaldinho and is that a good idea?
A. It certainly looks like he will try. I doubt it would work out well because Ronaldinho has attracted a reputation for being a workshy party animal who is unlikely to value new manager Mark Hughes and his approach to football highly – Blackburn were not given the nickname Blackeye Rovers for nothing.
Q. Was it a good idea to sack Sven?
A. Not in my opinion.
Q. Where does his money come from, anyway?
A. He achieved success through securing a government license to operate in the telecommunications and satellites industry. This turned out to be enormously profitable – much more so than previous careers in the police and computer retail. As the money mounted, his company diversified into a variety of different fields – real estate, hospital ownership, media and others. He divested himself of shares in the company so as to be permitted to become Prime Minister and his family subsequently sold them to Singapore’s Temasek. That left a lot of cash, some of which has been invested in Manchester City, a much smaller amount supports Shinawatra University and, presumably, there are other investments about which I have not been notified.
Q. How about these corruption charges?
A. Well, after the military coup, the junta put its best people and a lot of resources in trying to justify their action by bringing corruption charges against Dr. Thaksin and his family (especially his wife and children). The results have been negligible – some trivial charges about the Phaholyothin land sale which will soon disappear, complaints against government policy to make a loan to Burma and to manage the lottery which the government, overwhelmingly supported by the electorate, seems entirely mandated to have done. Some members of the Electoral Commission, also supported by the junta, are themselves in prison because of the way they tried to find evidence of electoral wrong-doing.
Q. Any truth to the human rights abuses?
A. More than 3,000 people were killed during the War against Drugs, which is the issue most commonly raised. Khun Thaksin was certainly PM at the time, the policy was very popular (the new PM Samak Sundaravej was thinking of reviving it) and it seems to have had a positive effect in removing drugs from schools. Khun Thaksin made some intemperate comments but there is no smoking gun linking him directly to any extra-judicial killing – and the extent to which he was able to control the military, for example, was shown when he was ousted in a military coup.
Q. Other people completely disagree with your views, don’t they?
Q. Are you writing this column without sources because the network is so desperately poor that you have no choice?
A. What do you think?