In praising the Lee model, Prayut could be endorsing Thaksin model

In praising the Lee model, Prayut could be endorsing Thaksin model

AMONG leaders of countries around the world, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha made possibly the worst tribute on the passing away of Singapore's founder Lee Kuan Yew.

If he does not know any better about the regional senior leader, the prime minister could have only said "I would like to express my condolences to Singapore on his death."

Instead, Prayut shot off his mouth by going on that "he [Lee] has been unwell for quite some time and I had wished for his recovery. But this is what happens to people who work hard all their life. A man working hard dies young."

Prayut even compared himself with the deceased Singaporean statesman by saying that since he is working so hard, he might not be able to live long, like Lee.

No one on this planet except Prayut could have said that Lee, at 91, was still young when he died.

Perhaps Prayut, who once claimed that he was good in history, had only recently heard about the story of the strongman of Asia although Lee served as Singapore's prime minister for 31 years - around the same period when Prayut was growing and serving in the Thai Army.

It is possible that Prayut, as a soldier, might not know about a leader of a neighbouring country, as the Thai military does not require such knowledge.

Even worse, Prayut and his fanclub posted on various social media this week, wishing Thailand could achieve development success like Singapore.

Prayut said Singapore enjoyed prosperity and achieved a high-income status because of the continuation of the government's economic policies despite changes in administration.

He urged the next Thai government to carry on the current military regime's economic policies in order to ensure that the country's economic development does not fall back into "reverse gear".

If the Thai elite, Prayut himself and all his supporters wished Thailand to develop in accordance with Lee's Singapore model, it was not necessary for them to stage a military coup twice in less than 10 years to get rid of Thaksin Shinawatra and his cronies from Thai politics.

Lee Kuan Yew and the Singapore model was indeed Thaksin's role model for nation building when the ex-PM was in office before the 2006 coup.

Lee criticised leaders around the world, including many Thai elite, for mishandling their countries, but he praised Thaksin for visionary leadership and economic management.

Lee has run Singapore like his company and hence the world knows the country as 'Singapore Inc", so did Thaksin who tried to make the Kingdom "Thailand Inc".

Singapore and Thailand's state-business nexus looked alike and in many cases are almost similar when Thaksin was in office from 2001-06. Their economic policies were mostly business-oriented.

Like Lee, Thaksin climbed the political ladder via election and popular support. Thaksin organised his Thai Rak Thai party similar to Lee's People's Action Party.

Politically, both of them preferred centralised administration, which could sometimes be called "soft authoritarian", and loved liberal economic policies.

Personally, Thaksin is quite close to the ruling elite in Singapore, as Thaksin has done business with them for a long time until now.

He saw Lee almost every time he visited Singapore while the senior Lee also met him officially and privately when he was in Thailand.

The business deal that brought a political end to Thaksin was the deal between Shin Corp and Singapore's Temasek. All Bangkok elite should remember that.

Shortly after the previous coup to topple him in 2006, the powers of the day hunted for him everywhere except in Dubai and Singapore where he could live and stay comfortably and safely.

Prime Minister Prayut should be well aware of the fact that he might have a chance to see Thaksin around when he joins the funeral ceremony of Lee in Singapore, as the former premier has been invited as well.

Prayut joked on Monday that he hoped his Singaporean hosts would be kind enough to not arrange a seat for him next to Thaksin.

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