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The Eight Cell Phone Exile

How many mobile phones does it take to monitor a country from afar?
Thaksin phone 2011 07 11Enlarge
Thaksin Shinawatra in London in 2007. (ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images)

Thaksin Shinawatra can't tote all of his phones in his pockets. If he did, his pants would probably fall down.

Instead, the deposed former Thai premier relies on a small black pouch hold his cache of eight -- yes, eight -- total cell phones, according to an interesting tidbit (and photo) revealed by the Bangkok Post. His collection includes two iPhones, a Samsung Galaxy and multiple Blackberries, the paper learned during an interview in Brunei.

Good thing he's rich. That must rack up some horrific service charges.

Why so many phones?

Maybe he just misses his three kids and his younger sister, who will soon assume the prime minister's seat via July elections. The business mogul-turned-politician, ousted in a 2006 military coup, lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai to escape corruption charges.

His critics in Thai establishment -- the same ones who called for his ouster -- would say he needs all those phones to not-so-secretly guide his newly elected sister, Yingluck, who he has called his "clone." In the election run up, they warned that a vote for the sister would reverse the efforts to erase his influence and lead to Thaksin calling the shots via phone calls.

Unfortunately for them, that sounds just fine to a lot of Thai voters, many of whom voted for the exile's sister for exactly that reason. Yingluck has carefully tread a tightrope, insisting she is not her brother's out-and-out marionette while extolling his populist policies and evoking the economic boom her brother presided over before the coup.

On election night, the Bangkok Post reported, "all four cellphones he uses ... kept ringing to the point he feared they would burn out."

Maybe the paper didn't know Thaksin kept four more mobiles on deck. Maybe he bought four more since his sister's victory.

Or maybe he just discovered Angry Birds and rushed out to buy a stash of back-up iPhones.

Whatever his reasons, Thaksin's eight cell phones -- that's four for each hand -- are a testament to his still-powerful influence.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-rice-bowl/the-eight-cell-phone-exile

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