BANGKOK: English may not be widely spoken in Thailand but new words are minted every now and then to keep the political sparks flying in this country of 62 million.
The latest are “Thaksinisation” and “Thaknocracy”. They are unlikely to be listed in any lexicon but the terms, coined by respected academic Thirayuth Boonmi, have spewed enough controversy to start a new row between supporters of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai party and his detractors, most of whom are sympathetic to the Democrat Party led by former premier Chuan Leekpai.
Last week, Thamasat University lecturer Thirayuth, a former student leader who led the 1973 pro-democracy uprising that overthrew a military dictatorship, said that Thaksin was at the crossroads - that he could become a successful reformer or drive the kingdom into bankruptcy with his CEO-style leadership, suggesting that the latter was more likely to happen.
Criticising Thaksin for his alleged arrogance and self-centred type of management coupled with populist policies, Thirayuth came up with the two new terms to describe the new political environment.
“Thaksinisation,” he said, was a “turning point leading to monopoly in politics and economic power by Thaksin and his party.”
He defined “Thaknocracy” as the “direct sales” approach to administration, explaining that it bypassed and even discredited middlemen, including independent academics, intellectuals, NGOs and technocrats, who have played vital roles in policy formulation.
Thaksin's response: “Some critics are just spectators or coaches in a boxing stadium. They have never actually boxed. All they have done is to stay on the ringside and criticise the fighters.
“He does it once a year; don't pay too much attention or our country will be filled with egos like this one.”