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Thaksin's Achilles' Heel: The failure of Hawkish approaches in the Thai South

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Many scholars voice approval for the political strategies and approaches that businessman-turned-politician Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has borrowed from the business world. His CEO management style is regarded as a key political asset. Moreover, his populist policies such as the “one village–one tambon” village fund and the “bank for the poor” show him to be full of concern for grass-roots Thais. In this article I argue that Thaksin's handling of the South reveals another side of his character, his preference for the use of violence to tackle problems and his disdain for “softer” methods such as discussion and negotiations. Thaksin pays very little attention to peaceful solutions offered by academics, the National Human Right Commission, and even the government-appointed National Reconciliation Commission. Unfortunately, this hawkish approach has widened distrust and discrimination among Thais and non-Thais. Thaksin's draconian methods have had serious consequences both on himself and the country. The volatile conflict in Thailand's far South is Thaksin's Achilles' heel.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok

Publication date: 2006-03-01

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