Court orders seizure of Thaksin assets

BANGKOK:Populist former Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra and his supporters denounced a court order to seize $1.4 billion of his assets and vowed today to pursue a non-violent struggle for what they said would be a people’s democracy.

But analysts and editorials speculated that the Supreme Court’s decision not to seize all $2.3 billion of Thaksin’s frozen assets would at least temporarily ease political conflicts that have plagued the country for the past four years.

The court ruled yesterday that Thaksin abused his power to enrich himself and his family while in office and ordered that $1.4 billion of his telecommunications fortune be seized.

In a statement issued today, Thaksin - who is in self-imposed exile in Dubai - said he and his family had not been treated fairly and “disagreed with the verdict, since it was unlawful and presented inaccurate facts.” “I haven’t received justice and I will not give up. I will seek justice in every way and every opportunity possible,” he said, vowing to carry on a non-violent struggle for democracy and justice.

Thaksin was deposed by a September 2006 military coup after being accused of corruption and abuse of power. The action was meant to quell tensions sparked by months of anti-Thaksin protests, but instead polarized the country.

Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, a law professor at Bangkok’s Thammasat University, contended that the verdict was fair.

“I think the situation has loosened up from before, when there was speculation that all of Thaksin’s assets might be seized,” he said. “People who are neutral could find it acceptable.” The Bangkok Post newspaper said in an editorial today that “now that issue of Thaksin’s billions has been legally settled, it is time to give the wounds a chance to heal. The alternative would be intolerable.” Thaksin and his supporters maintain he was overthrown because he challenged the country’s entrenched elite while helping the poor masses whose backing was key to his two landslide election victories. Critics say during his 2001-2006 rule, Thaksin subverted democratic institutions, enriched himself and disrespected Thailand’s revered king. “What Thai people feel at the moment is that justice in this society is fading away,” said Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, chairman of the pro-Thaksin Pheua Thai party. Referring to the advent of constitutional monarchy in 1932, he said that Thailand has been waiting for 78 years “for power to really belong to the people.” Chavalit called on every sector of society to engage in non-violent protest. Despite warnings by the government, no incidents were reported on Judgment Day, as yesterday was dubbed.