Connect to share and comment

No bribe for me? (An open letter to Thailand's ex-premier)

Dear former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra,

This is Patrick Winn, Thailand correspondent with GlobalPost. Ever heard of me? No?

Excuse the public nature of this letter, but you are in exile after all. I can't seem to track down a fixed address for your hideaways in Hong Kong or Dubai.

I'm writing because, well, I'm hurt. Some Thai newspapers are reporting that you've been bribing the foreign media to write stories sympathetic to your plight. They're warning Thai people that you've got all of the foreign media in your pocket.

Now, I admit that I haven't been around too long. I wasn't here in the 1990s, when your various business ventures made you a billionaire. I wasn't here for that five-year stretch following 2001, when you were prime minister. And remember in 2006, when you were ousted in that military coup? I missed that too.

But I'm here now. And every morning, I check the mailbox for my bribe. Am I looking in the wrong place? Maybe you've been hiding it under the banana tree by the patio?

In a recent issue of the Thai-language "Post Today" newspaper,  I read a Q&A with the head of Thailand's Foreign Correspondent's Club. When the subject of press bribes came up, the foreign journalist said, "This is a belief a lot of Thai people have. But it's a comical, unreasonable rumor."

He sure sounds disgruntled. Did you forget to pay him too?

Maybe you don't think I'm worth bribing. We can't claim the BBC's name recognition — yet! — but Global Post is adding more readers every day. We're the next big thing!

At first, I just couldn't believe you were really bribing foreign journalists. After all, they relentlessly reported on your "War on Drugs," which resulted in thousands of alleged extra-judicial police killings. And your alleged mismanagement following military abuse of Muslims in Thailand's deep south. And your alleged personal business dealings with the Burmese junta. And countless other corruption allegations.

Some pundits have pointed out this inconsistency, but I know the truth. You're just a generous guy who doesn't ask much in return.

In reporting this story, I was invited to an all-political TV station run by your sympathizers. There I was, surrounded all of your proxies, thinking, "This is it! This is when they pull me into a backroom and stuff my pants full of cash!"

But all they offered was a glass of water. And an energy drink.

Look, I know the Thai government has frozen most of your wealth and the recession has likely depleted your holdings.

So, you know what? I'll take half of what the BBC gets.

Just leave it under the banana tree.