Fri, Jul 14, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Critics slam Thaksin's letter to Bush

`DEAR GEORGE' Critics accused the Thai prime minister of kowtowing to Washington and trying to spin the political crisis so he emerges as a victim

AP , BANGKOK

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, left, and US President George W. Bush chat during the second APEC leaders' retreat in Busan, South Korea, on Nov. 25 last year.

PHOTO: AP

Thailand's political crisis is heating up again, this time with the focus on the US and President George W. Bush.

Embattled Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has faced a cacophony of criticism at home for a letter he dashed off to the US president last month, explaining Thailand's current political mess.

The letter, splashed across Thai newspapers' front pages this week, has been denounced as self-serving, sycophantic and "shameful."

Critics say it's Thaksin's attempt to spin the political crisis so he emerges as a victim, and accuse him of unsolicited kowtowing to Washington.

"Uncle Sam, I'm being bullied," read the Nation newspaper's banner headline yesterday, above an article calling Thaksin a "crybaby" for talking to outsiders about the crisis that has followed massive anti-Thaksin protests months ago.

In a commentary headlined, "Dear George letters are shameful," the English-language Nation said "Thaksin's pleas to US leader have ridiculed Thai democracy."s

Thaksin's letter said "there has been a threat to democracy in Thailand since early this year."

"Having failed to provoke violence and disorder, my opponents are now attempting various extra-constitutional tactics to co-opt the will of the people," it said.

The letter outraged Thaksin's opponents, who said they would deliver their own accounts of the situation to the embassies of the US, Britain, China, France, Japan and Russia today.

Thaksin has penned missives to leaders around Europe and Asia, trying to explain Thailand's political crisis since it began in January.

He met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac and Russian leader Vladimir Putin during unofficial trips in April.

But it was the June 23 letter to the US president that hit a nerve.

"Thailand is not a colony of the United States," said former prime minister Chuan Leekpai, who stepped down in 2001 after Thaksin defeated his opposition Democrat Party.

Thaksin says he doesn't understand the uproar over the letter.

"Leaders writing letters to each other is a normal practice," he said. "Why is everyone so excited?"

US embassy spokeswoman Kathleen Boyle said the two leaders "correspond on occasion."

Bush responded to Thaksin in a two-paragraph letter dated July 3.

"The United States has watched events in your country with some concern," it said.

"As an ally and a friend it is my sincere hope that all parties can find a way forward that respects the great achievements of Thai democracy and sees a fully vested government up and running in Bangkok as soon as possible," it said.

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