Forum offers Thaksin chance to show some leadership

Forum offers Thaksin chance to show some leadership

An article in Naew Na online news drew my attention to an international leadership forum to be held in Seoul, South Korea, next week, with Thaksin Shinawatra listed as one of the listed speakers.

The article was, in fact, lifted from a message posted on Sutin Wannabovorn’s Facebook page and entitled "The Sick Asian Leadershit (sic) Conference", which he said would be held in Seoul on May 19-20.

Sutin wrote, without actually naming him, that Thaksin Shinawatra was invited to give a speech at the conference on May 19 -- the same day his sister, former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, is due to appear before the Supreme Court’s criminal division for political office holders for the first hearing of the rice pledging case against her.

Sutin wrote that Thaksin's international publicist and lobbyist Robert Amsterdam had boasted that the fugitive former prime minister would take this opportunity to shame Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha before an international audience.

The writer, a known and fierce critic of the former prime minister, charged that the conference was partly funded by Thaksin’s "dirty money". He also charged that the conference was a collaborative effort between the fugitive and the US administration to hurt Thailand.

At the end of his message, he wondered why the National Council for Peace and Order has not revoked Thaksin's Thai passport.

The supposed title of the forum, "The Sick Asian Leadershit Conference", attracted my attention as it is, to say the least, rather unusual. I wondered if there would, in fact, be such an international conference. Or was it was just the writer’s fantasy.

I looked to Google for help. And there I found a load of information about the conference which is, in fact, called "The Sixth Asian Leadership Conference", scheduled to take place at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul on May 19-20.

The international conference, held annually since 2005, is sponsored by the Chosunilbo newspaper, the largest daily in South Korea. The conference this year will cover a wide range of topics -- including gender equality and opportunities, unification, IT, economics, and culture.

Since this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the 70th anniversary of the independence of South Korea, the conference will also commemorate the history of the past 70 years, and look into the next 70 years.

Thaksin is just one among many speakers who include Jack Ma of the Chinese online sales giant Alibaba, a few former prime ministers of Japan and former German president Horst Kohler.

It is not known what Thaksin will talk about, as there is no advance copy of his speech available. So, it is only a matter of conjecture saying that he will take this opportunity to lambast the Thai government, and the NCPO, because that would be very unwise.

Instead, he should make use of this opportunity to demonstrate his leadership and explain his vision for the future of the region - if he has one - and, perhaps, Thailand. After all, this conference is not about Thailand.

Veera Prateepchaikul

Former Editor

Former Bangkok Post Editor, political commentator and a regular columnist at Post Publishing.

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