"ไอ้การชัยชนะของการปราบไอ้ยาเสพติดนี่ ดีที่ปราบ แล้วก็ที่เขาตำหนิบอกว่า เอ้ย คนตาย ตั้ง ๒,๕๐๐ คน อะไรนั่น เรื่องเล็ก ๒,๕๐๐ คน ถ้านายกฯ ไม่ได้ทำ นายกฯ ไม่ได้ทำ ทุกปี ๆ จดไว้นะ มีมากกว่า ๒,๕๐๐ คนที่ตาย"
"Victory in the War on Drugs is good. They may blame the crackdown for more than 2,500 deaths, but this is a small price to pay. If the prime minister failed to curb [the drug trade], over the years the number of deaths would easily surpass this toll."
Thaksin's great-grandfather, Seng Saekhu, was an immigrant from Meizhou, Guangdong, China, who arrived in Siam in the 1860s and settled in Chiang Mai in 1908. His eldest son, Chiang Saekhu, was born in Chanthaburi in 1890 and married a Thai woman named Saeng Samana. Chiang's eldest son, Sak, adopted the Thai surname Shinawatra ("routinely appropriate action") in 1938 because of the country's anti-Chinese movement, and the rest of the family also adopted it.
One of the most visible of Thaksin's administrative reforms was the restructuring of government department and ministries, labelled the "big bang." It was hailed as a "historic breakthrough" and "the first major reorganization of ministries since King Chulalongkorn set up Thailand's modern system of departmental government in 1897." Plans had been studied for years to loosen perceived rigidities and inertia of the old system but were not implemented until the Thaksin government.
Seng Saekhu had made his fortune through tax farming. Chiang Saekhu/Shinawatra later founded Shinawatra Silks and then moved into Finance, construction, and property development. Thaksin's Father, Loet, was born in Chiang Mai in 1919 and married Yindi Ramingwong. Yindi's Father, Charoen Ramingwong (born: Wang Chuan Cheng), was a Hakka immigrant who married Princess Chanthip na Chiangmai, a minor member of the Lanna (Chiang Mai) royalty. In 1968, Loet Shinawatra entered politics and became an MP for Chiang Mai and deputy leader of the now-defunct Liberal Party. Loet Shinawatra quit politics in 1976. He opened a coffee shop, grew oranges and flowers in Chiang Mai's San Kamphaeng district, and opened two cinemas, a gas station, and a car and motorcycle dealership. By the time Thaksin was born, the Shinawatra family was one of the richest and most influential families in Chiang Mai.
Thaksin Shinawatra was a member of the 10th class of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School, and was then admitted to the Thai Police Cadet Academy. Graduating in 1973, he joined the Royal Thai Police. He received a master's degree in Criminal Justice from Eastern Kentucky University in the United States in 1975, and three years later was awarded a doctorate in Criminal justice at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. Returning to Thailand, he reached the position of Deputy Superintendent of the Policy and Planning Sub-division, General Staff Division, Metropolitan Police Bureau, before resigning his commission in 1987 as a lieutenant colonel and leaving the police. His former wife, Potjaman Damapong, is the daughter of a police general and now uses her mother's maiden name.
Thaksin and his wife began several businesses while he was still in the police, including a silk shop, a cinema, and an apartment building. All were failures and left him over 50 million baht in debt. In 1982, he established ICSI. Using his police contacts, he leased computers to government agencies with modest success. However, later ventures in security systems (SOS) and public bus radio services (Bus Sound) all failed. In April 1986, he founded Advanced Info Service (AIS), which started off as a computer rental Business.
The Shinawatra Computer and Communications Group was founded in 1987 and listed in 1990.
In 1990, Thaksin founded Shinawatra Satellite, which has developed and operated four Thaicom communications satellites.
Thaksin entered politics in late 1994 through Chamlong Srimuang, who had just reclaimed the position of Palang Dharma Party (PDP) leader from Boonchu Rojanastien. In a subsequent purge of Boonchu-affiliated PDP Cabinet ministers, Thaksin was appointed Foreign Minister in December 1994, replacing Prasong Soonsiri. Thaksin left Palang Dharma along with many of its MPs in 1996, and founded the populist Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party in 1998. After a historic election victory in 2001, he became prime minister, the country's first to serve a full term. Thaksin introduced a range of policies to alleviate rural poverty; highly popular, they helped reduce poverty by half in four years. He launched the country's first universal Health care program, the 30-baht scheme, as well as a highly notorious drug suppression campaign. Thaksin embarked on a massive program of infrastructure investment, including roads, public transit, and Suvarnabhumi Airport. Nevertheless, public sector debt fell from 57% of GDP in January 2001 to 41% in September 2006. Levels of corruption were perceived to have fallen, with Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index improving from 3.2 to 3.8 between 2001 and 2005. The Thai Rak Thai party won an unprecedented landslide in the 2005 general election, which had the highest voter turnout in Thai history. Twelve years later, after Thaksin was removed from power, Chamlong Srimuang expressed regret at getting "such a corrupt person" into politics. The PDP soon withdrew from the government over the Sor Por Kor 4-01 land reform corruption scandal, causing the government of Chuan Leekpai to collapse.
Thaksin announced he would not run in the subsequent November 1996 elections but would remain as leader of the PDP. It suffered a fatal defeat in the elections, winning only one seat, and soon imploded, with most members resigning.
However, by-elections were needed for 40 TRT candidates who failed to win the minimum 20% required by the 1997 Constitution in an uncontested seat. The Democrat Party refused to contest them and, along with the PAD, petitioned the Central Administrative Court to cancel them. Chamlong Srimuang declared that the PAD would ignore the elections and "go on rallying until Thaksin resigns and Thailand gets a royally appointed prime minister".
In 1999, the Shinawatra family spent some 1 billion baht establishing Shinawatra University in Pathum Thani. It offers international programs in engineering, architecture, and Business management, though it ranks quite low in international standings.
After Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai dissolved parliament in November 2000, TRT won a sweeping victory in the January 2001 elections, the first held under the Constitution of 1997. At the time, some academics called it the most open, corruption-free election in Thai history. Thai Rak Thai won 248 parliamentary seats (more than any other party previously) and needed only 3 more seats to form a government. Nonetheless, Thaksin opted for a broad coalition to gain total control and avoid a vote of no confidence, with the Chart Thai Party (41 seats) and the New Aspiration Party (36 seats), while absorbing the smaller Seritham Party (14 seats).
Transparency International reported that Thailand's reputation for transparency among Business executives improved somewhat during the years of the Thaksin government. In 2001, Thailand's Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) was 3.2 (ranked 61), whilst in 2005, the CPI was 3.8 (ranked 59). However, a study of Worldwide Governance Indicators by the World Bank gave Thailand a lower score on Control of Corruption during 2002–2005 under Thaksin when compared to the Democrat-led government of 1998–2000. In 2008 Thaksin Shinawatra was sentenced to two years' imprisonment in absentia over a corrupt land deal. In a ruling that made him the first Thai Politician to be convicted of corruption committed while prime minister, Thaksin was found to have violated conflict of interest rules in helping his wife buy land from a state agency at a reduced price.
Thaksin denied the allegations. "They just made up a beautiful term to use against me. There's no such thing in this government. Our policies only serve the interests of the majority of the people", he said. From 2002 to 2006, the stock price of Shin Corp increased from 38 to 104 baht (an increase of 173 per cent) while the stock price of Shin Satellite fell. In the same period, the Stock Exchange of Thailand index rose 161 per cent, and the price of other major SET blue chip companies increased vastly more. Industry deregulation caused the market share of AIS to fall from 68 per cent to 53 per cent.
In June the Supreme Court denied Thaksin's request to travel to China and Britain, since his corruption case was set for trial and was ordered to surrender his passport after arraignment. In July the Court assumed jurisdiction over the fourth corruption charge against Thaksin concerning the soft loans to Burma. The court also agreed to hear allegations that Thaksin, his former cabinet, and three members of the current government, broke anti-gambling laws by setting up the new state lottery in 2003.
Pintongtha also was accused of being nominee for her parents. She said that the money from her mother was a "birthday present". This birthday present was used to buy 367 million shares of Shin Corporation, which leaves her brother with the same amount. The AEC found the account has been receiving dividends from Shin Corp. There were no transactions between Pintongtha's account and her mother's account. However, the dividend money was used to buy SC Asset shares from WinMark to the amount of 71 million baht and shares from 5 real-estate firms from 2 funds in 2004 worth of 485 million baht.
In March 2005, Thaksin established the National Reconciliation Commission, chaired by former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun to oversee efforts to bring peace to the troubled South. In its final report in June 2006, the commission proposed introducing elements of Islamic law and making Pattani-Malay (Yawi) an official language in the region along with Thai. The Thaksin administration assigned a government committee to study the report, but nothing came of it.
The judges decided to seize 46 billion differences in value of Shin Corp. shares from the date when he came to office and the value when the shares were sold to Singapore's Temasek Holdings in early 2006. Note that, Thaksin had declared around 500 million baht in assets and Pojaman had 8 billion to 9 billion baht while Thaksin served as prime minister. Nevertheless, during that period, Shin shares gained 121%, compared with a 128% gain in the benchmark SET index, while Siam Cement, one of Thailand's premier blue chip companies, gained 717%. The judges did not find that Thaksin was guilty of malfeasance. They also noted that any benefit to the government from Thaksin's policies was irrelevant to the ruling. The government reaped approximately 100 billion baht in increased revenue from changes in the concession agreements alone.
In May 2007, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said Thaksin was free to return to Thailand, and he would personally guarantee Thaksin's safety. In January 2008 Thaksin's wife Potjaman was arrested on arrival in Bangkok but released on bail after appearing at the Supreme Court, with orders not to leave the country. She was set to be tried for alleged violation of stock-trading and land sale laws.
The British Government Home Office, meanwhile, revoked Potjaman and Thaksin's visas due to their convictions, while the Bangkok British Embassy e-mailed airlines directing them to disallow either of them to board flights to Britain. In late 2008, Arabian Business reported after an exclusive interview that the UK froze $4.2 billion of his assets in the UK. However, the UK government has not confirmed or denied this claim.
On 11 November 2009, Sivarak Chutipong was arrested by Cambodian police for passing the confidential FLIGHT plans of Thaksin and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to Kamrob Palawatwichai, First Secretary of the Royal Thai Embassy in Cambodia. Sivarak was a Thai Engineer working in Cambodia for Cambodia Air Traffic Service, the private firm which manages air traffic control in Cambodia. Sivarak denied that he was a spy, and the Thai government claimed that he was innocent and that the incident was a Thaksin/Cambodian plot to further damage relations between the two countries. The Thai First Secretary was expelled from Cambodia. Sivarak demanded that former First Secretary Kamrob speak out and restore his damaged reputation by confirming he was not involved in a spy ring. Kamrob refused to provide comment to the press throughout the controversy, and Kasit's secretary, Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, insisted that although that there was no misconduct on the part of the First Secretary or Sivarak, there would be no statement from Kamrob. Sivarak's mother appeared often on Thai television, pleading for the government to assist her son.
In an email to his supporters, Thaksin claimed that the court was used as a tool. He also noted how the Thai stock market rose to the benefit of many companies, not just his, and claimed that all charges against him were politically motivated. He thanked his supporters for not protesting while the verdict was being read, and implored them to use non-violent means in the Future. Pojaman na Pombejra insisted that tens of billions of baht of her wealth had been given to her children and relatives well before Thaksin took office in 2001 and denied that her children and relatives were nominees of her and her husband. She also denied having any control over Ample Rich and Win Mark, two firms that the AEC had accused of being her nominees. In spite of Pojaman's claim, Thaksin was the authorised signature for Ample Rich through 2005, making him the only individual authorised to withdraw funds from the company's account until he transferred the authority to his children, four years after he took office in 2001. Some UDD members held a small protest in front of the court, but did not disrupt the ruling as the government had predicted they would. The UDD Leaders announced that a large-scale protest was scheduled to be held on 14 March 2010.
While he was opposition leader, Abhisit Vejjajiva accused Thaksin of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the campaign. After being appointed Prime Minister, Abhisit opened an investigation into the killings, claiming that a successful probe could lead to prosecution by the International Criminal Court. Former attorney-general Kampee Kaewcharoen led the investigation and the investigation committee was approved by Abhisit's Cabinet. Abhisit denied that the probe was politically motivated. Witnesses and victims were urged to report to the Department of Special Investigation, which operated directly under Abhisit's control. As of the August 2011 parliamentary elections, Abhisit's investigation failed to find or publicise any conclusive evidence linking Thaksin or members of his Government to any extrajudicial killings.
Under the slogans "Four Years of Repair – Four years of Reconstruction" and "Building Opportunities", Thaksin and the TRT won landslide victories in February 2005 elections, sweeping 374 out of 500 seats in Parliament. The election had the highest voter turnout in Thai history. But his second term was soon beset by protests, with claims that he presided over a "parliamentary dictatorship."