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Pheu Thai campaign policy promises 'one student, one tablet computer'

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April 29, 2011

Thai politics is one of those subjects which is so far beyond my comprehension that I no longer pay much attention. Until now that is, because one of the parties, the Pheu Thai Party, has announced a "one student, one tablet computer" campaign policy for the next election. If elected, the party will ensure every school has high speed internet access and Wi-Fi, and that every primary school student will be given a free tablet computer. The party plans to improve Thailand's long-term competitiveness by developing forward thinking educational strategies based on e-learning and the distribution of electronic text books via the internet.

Exactly what chances the Pheu Thai Party has of winning the next election is difficult to ascertain. The Pheu Thai party is believed to be run by fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin is one of the most a colorful politicians you can imagine and he polarizes opinion like no other political figure in the country. Wealthy Thais curse him as a corrupt politician while the rural poor love him for the progress he made in public health reform, and the eradication of poverty partly through an ingenious microfinancing scheme.

Thaksin began his working life as a police officer, eventually rising to become a multi-billionaire businessman who made his money in telecommunications. He became Prime Minister of Thailand in 2001 and was deposed in 2006 in a military coup. He remains the only prime minister in Thai history to lead an elected government through a full parliamentary term and be re-elected, and also the first to lead a Government that was not a coalition.

He left the country to avoid imprisonment in 2008 when he was found guilty of corruption and he was sentenced in absentia to two years imprisonment. Since then he has played a number of roles, including "special ambassador" for Nicaragua and an economic advisor to Thailand's neighbor, Cambodia. His brief stint as owner of Manchester City soccer club ended when he was forced to sell shortly after US$1.5 billion of his assets were frozen by the Thai Government. Strangely, Thaksin has gone on record as saying if he is pardoned and allowed to return to Thailand, he won't be asking for his money back.

Thaksin is also claimed by the Thai Government to have financed the violent political protests in Bangkok last year, and Thai courts have since issued a warrant for his arrest on terrorism charges.

Thaksin and his supporters claim the charges against him are politically-motivated and as unlikely as it is that such a scenario could see such a controversial figure return to power, many of Thailand's politicians have been previously charged with corruption, and some have even been convicted. Nothing is as it seems in Thai politics, and it's not completely out of the question that Thaksin might again one day run Thailand, and that every child in the country might have a tablet computer.

For those parties interested in selling a single order of ten million tablets, Thaksin is now a citizen of Montenegro and is currently in Dubai.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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4 Comments

What a shame you gizmag s promoting evil Thaksin Shin.? Did you take his money? That's mine, my taxpayer money, u know?!

He's never helped improving poverty in rural area. That's been all "media manipulation".

Poor people in rural area have been commiting suicide everyday due to gradual lost of lands/belongings. All planned and "continuously" done by every government, including Thaksin's. No exception!

One child one tablet? For whose benefits? Thai people's or Thaksin's? This kind of policy (internet, cable TV, bla bla bla in every school nationwide) was heavily promoted before he became Thai PM in 2001. Then what? NOTHING! What was he doing during those 6 years in position? Stealing my taxpayer money only!

Before becoming Thai PM, he owned 30 billion Thai Baht. After 6 years of being in PM position, he owned 700 billion Thai Baht!

A Thai citizen.

odysseus.odysseus
29th April, 2011 @ 09:48 am PDT

It's interesting to see this all around the world, particularly Asia when I travel, only to see here at home that we are cutting teachers' pay, make teachers buy their own classroom supplies, and essentially raising the next generation of marginalized people that won't be able to compete. Will be interesting to see the crime and GDP stats in 20 years. Though maybe GDP will be up, because the cheap labor will be here.

Steven Kennedy
29th April, 2011 @ 12:08 pm PDT

Your opening sentence in this article hit the nail on the head. You should have stopped there and omitted to write this article. The public track record of this Taksin is indeed criminal, born out by his criminal convictions, so it is rather disappointing to see Gizmag dirty their otherwise great track record by publishing this appalling story on dirty Thai politics. Back to that first sentence...

Dancing with Wolves

harry.vanduyne
29th April, 2011 @ 05:04 pm PDT

The former prime minister Thaksin is a man with vision. To be fair (a standard that is non-existed in Thailand) , At the best he is no worse or better than average currupted Thai politician. The difference is that he got caught. At the bottom line, if I must choose, I prefer the lesser of the evil. But again, to be fair to Thaksin, let him come back to Thailand and contest general election first. I bet he will win simply because the rural people like him and want him. You want democracy? Then let democracy rules !

And if he won, which I am sure he will, then it is the wishes of the majority of Thai people, who are mostly rural people, then let it be, please. If he looses, Thaksin will know how to quit.

My free advice to the Phue Thai Party are as follow:

--give each teacher and each rural family a tablet computer as well

--increase pay for rural teachers

--buy armored cars for Southern Provinces teachers to travel in (no budget increase here. you simply take the budget for armored cars for top brasses in the government to travel in Bangkok)

It is time to stop this madness hunting and blaming Thaksin for everything wrong in Thailand. He cannot be that bad, for goodness sake !

A. Ted Vorachard
29th April, 2011 @ 07:49 pm PDT
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