PERSON OF THE WEEK - March 5-11, 2006
The one big story of a generally slow news week was the unrest in Thailand. Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Thaskin Shinawatra. From what I gather, the protests have to do with the PM's decision to sell off his shares of Shin Corp (a leading Thai telecommunications company that he helped found). There are two problems with this. First, Shinawatra exploited loopholes in the tax code to avoid pay ANY capital gains tax on the 1.88 billion US dollars he made in the deal. Second, and probably most important, the group that he sold the shares to is owned by the Singaporean Government. The Thai people apparently consider Shin Corp to be a great national asset and are not pleased that foreigners will now hold a large stake in it (So this is the Thai version of the Dubai Ports fiasco).
Honestly, I don't have an opinion on this. I don't know much about Thailand, I can't figure out who is on what side of Thai political spectrum, and I don't know the intricacies of the Thai tax code to tell you whether or not I have a problem with Shinawatra exploiting loopholes. However, what I can tell you is this: Many Thai people are angry, and this could become a very big news story if they do manage to force the Prime Minister's resignation. Hence it is only fair to name Thaskin Shinawatra, the man who started this whole brouhaha, as ConservaGlobe's Person of the Week.