Thaksin Shinawatra Biography

Thaksin Shinawatra, a Thai businessman turned politician, rose to become the Prime Minister of Thailand in the early 2000s. Born into a wealthy and influential family in the Chiang Mai province, Thaksin began his career as a police officer before establishing himself as a successful business tycoon. With a reputation for efficient administration, he implemented various reforms during his tenure, including the reduction of national poverty and the introduction of a universal healthcare system. Despite facing criticism for his anti-drug policy and allegations of corruption, Thaksin’s efforts resulted in a decrease in drug consumption and a decline in corruption. However, a military coup in 2006 led to his conviction for corruption and subsequent exile in Dubai.

Quick Facts

  • Age: 74 Years, 74 Year Old Males
  • Family: Spouse/Ex-: Potjaman Na Pombejra, father: Lert Shinawatra, mother: Yindee Shinawatra, siblings: Yaowapha Wongsawat, Yingluck Shinawatra, children: Panthongtae Shinawatra, Peathongtarn Shinawatra, Pintongtha Kunakornwong
  • Born Country: Thailand
  • Prime Ministers
  • Political Leaders
  • Political ideology: (1998–2006)[1] – Political party – Thai Rak Thai Party, (1994–98) – Other political – affiliations – Palang Dharma Party
  • Notable Alumni: Eastern Kentucky University
  • Founder/Co-Founder: Pheu Thai Party, Intouch Holdings, Advanced Info Service, Thai Rak Thai Party, Shinawatra University, Thaicom
  • Education: Eastern Kentucky University

Childhood & Early Life

Thaksin Shinawatra was born on July 26, 1949, in San Kamphaeng village, in Chiang Mai province of Thailand, to Loet Shinawatra and Yindi Ramingwong. Loet was an MP from Chiang Mai from 1969 to 1976. Later he quit politics and made a lot of money from business and farming.

Thaksin spent the first fifteen years of his life at San Kamphaeng. At sixteen, he shifted to Chang Mai city. There he attended Montfort College, one of the most prestigious schools in Thailand. At the same time, he began to help his father in running one of his two cinema halls.

After graduation, Thaksin entered the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School and then got admission to the Thai Police Cadet Academy. He graduated from there in 1973 and joined the police force.

Soon after, he won a scholarship and joined Eastern Kentucky University (USA) to study Criminal Justice. He graduated from there with a master’s degree in 1975. He then returned to Thailand.

Thaksin now began to teach at the Police Cadet Academy. Later for a short period, he was sent on a special duty under the Prime Minister’s office. After some time, he again returned to the United States. In 1978, he received his doctorate on Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State University (Texas).

On coming back to Thailand, Thaksin rejoined the police force as the Deputy Superintendent of the Policy and Planning Sub-division. He also served the General Staff Division and Metropolitan Police Bureau. By the time he left the police force in 1987, he had reached the position of lieutenant colonel.

As Businessman

Shinawatra opened different business ventures while he was still working in the police department. However, all of them failed, leaving him with a huge debt. Later, he used his family and police connections to go into the service industry, but that too did not succeed. His luck began to change from the beginning of 1986.

In April 1986, he founded a computer rental company named Advanced Info Service. The next year, in 1987, he went into the entertainment industry and marketed a romance drama, which became a hit. This was the year he founded his Shinawatra Computer and Communications Group, which was listed in 1990.

In 1988, Shinawatra started marketing PacLink Pager with Pacific Telesis. Later in 1989, he established a cable television company IBC and a data networking service, Shinawatra DataCom, which was later taken over by AIS and TOT. Today, it is known as Advance Data Network.

In 1990, Shinawatra turned his Advanced Info Service into a mobile networking company. Using his influence, he got a 20-year monopoly contract with the army and made a lot of money from it. Later, he incorporated his companies under a conglomerate named ‘Shin Corporation’.

In Politics

Thaksin Shinawatra joined politics in 1994. He was immediately appointed as the Foreign Minister in the government of Chamlong Srimuang, the leader of Palang Dharma Party (PDP). Later, as Chamlong’s popularity began to wane, Thaksin was picked up as the new PDP leader.

PDP contested the 1995 Parliamentary election under the leadership of Thaksin. Although he was elected from Bangkok, the party did not do well. It later formed a coalition government with Chart Thai Party, led by Banharn Silpa-Archa. Shinawatra was appointed as the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Bangkok traffic.

In August 1996, PDP pulled out of the coalition, which resulted in the fall of Banharn government. The parliament was dissolved. Later in the same year, Thaksin Shinawatra left PDP with a few other MPs. The following year, he served briefly as the Deputy Prime Minister under Chavalit Yongchaiyudh government.

In 1998, Thaksin co-formed Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party. Immediately, he began to get ready for the next election and started his campaign promising to generate economic growth, provide universal healthcare, debt moratorium for farmers, strict action against corruption, etc.

When the next parliamentary election was held on January 6, 2001, TRT won handsomely by garnering 40.6% votes. Thaksin Shinawatra was appointed the Prime Minister of Thailand by King Bhumibol Adulyadej on February 9, 2001.

After Ouster

Thaksin Shinawatra first went to Britain, where some members of his family lived. He applied for asylum there but was refused. For a brief period, he traveled from country to country and finally acquired the citizenship of Montenegro through its economic citizenship program.

To be eligible for the citizenship, Thaksin is said to have invested millions of dollars in the tourism sector of the country. However, after the citizenship was granted, he began to spend a lot of time in London and Dubai.

Meanwhile, in June 2007, the government of Thailand froze Thaksin’s Thai assets on a court order. They also banned TRT Party and debarred most of its leaders, including Thaksin, from taking part in the election for five years.

In June 2008, Thaksin returned with his wife to Thailand to face corruption charges. However, they were out on bail and fled the country when his wife was convicted of tax evasion.

In 2008, Thaksin was tried in absentia for corruption and was sentenced to two years of imprisonment. In 2010, the government seized his frozen assets amounting to $1.4 billion. In spite of such allegations, in November 2009, the Cambodian government appointed Thaksin as a special economic advisor.

Thaksin Shinawatra still has a strong following at home. In the July 2011 general election, pro-Thaksin Phak Puea Thai Party, headed by his younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, won the majority of parliamentary seats. She was appointed the Prime Minister on July 3, 2011.

Personal Life

Thaksin married Potjaman Na Pombejra in 1976. He has three children with her: a son named Panthongtae and two daughters named Pinthongtha and Praethongthan. The couple divorced in 2008.

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