On March 10, Sorayut Suthasanajinda, the host of the current events talk show ถึงลูกถึงคน, posed this question to care taker prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra:
Prime Minister, do you think it was a mistake, in hindsight, that you transfered [Shin Corporation] shares to your son… instead of… transfering them to a blind trust [as outlined in article 209 of the constitution], completely severing yourself of all ties?
Mr Thaksin evaded the question, saying that the related laws for the constitutional provision was not yet enacted at the time. Veteran Matichon journalist Prasong Lertratanawisute disputes his chronology, saying that the law in fact was available before Mr Thaksin's share transfers.
This is all in hindsight of course, but I think Mr Thaksin foes and allies alike would say that he'd made the wrong decision. Allegations of preferential treatment arising from the conflict of interest inherent in his family's holding in Shin Corp have continued to dog every decision his government has made on the telcom industry, from BOI tax breaks for ShinSat to excise tax reduction for AIS. His family's decision to sell Shin Corp has allowed his critics to galvanize their forces and call for mass street protests that are about to cumulate today.
It's all in the past you may say, but hindsight in this case provides an interesting lesson to the future. If Mr Thaksin survives this political crisis (which I forsee), he will have to pose Sorayut's question again to himself. His family is still the majority owner of the SET-listed SC Asset and critics have already started to question the dealings the BVI-listed Win Mark Co Ltd. Would he ask his family to transfer these asset to a blind trust?
It would be a good political move, a real answer to his critics that he's sincerely moved beyond his ties to business – something that he intended perhaps for Temasek deal. Plus, Mr Prime Minister, this transaction will have no tax issues involved.