The Nation May 2, 2007
Golf presidency 'a joke or political ploy'
Rivals of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday described his election as president of the Professional Golf Association of Thailand (PGAT) on Monday as a joke.
Council for National Security chairman General Sonthi Boonyaratglin told reporters: "It's ridiculous. I think Thais are in a confused condition. Some may not be able to separate what is good from what is bad. Perhaps we should ask a psychiatrist to help them."
He said the appointment must have a hidden agenda and might be a fighting call to gain popularity.
Democrat Party spokesman Ong-art Klampaiboon called it unusual for the PGAT to choose the former prime minister as its president, because Thaksin was not even in the country.
He said the decision showed that Thaksin was attempting to use sports to attract attention and carry on his political campaign from outside the country.
"Even we don't know his real objective. We want the state to trace his finances," said Ong-art.
During yesterday's Cabinet meeting, several members thought the whole idea was amusing.
"Several ministers said it was just a typical gag of Thaksin's - especially another report that he would buy Manchester City football club. It's his style to make news, just like he did when he said he'd buy Liverpool three years ago," said Deputy Social Development and Human Security Minister Poldej Pinpratheep.
However, Popular Campaign for Democracy secretary-general Suriyasai Katasila said it was not a joke, but rather a strategy to steal the political limelight again.
"Politicians and golf courses can't be divided. When Thaksin was PM, he made decisions about many projects on the golf course. Either golf or football was linked to a network of politically influential groups," he said.
Meanwhile, Thai Rak Thai Party spokesman Sita Divari said the government should separate politics from sports, saying the PGAT believed the former premier had the ability to develop the association.
"Thaksin likes sports. I think the government should give him a chance to run the PGAT," said Sita.
"It's the way of democracy, not dictatorship. Thaksin cannot force the association members to choose him. Yet I believe hundreds of sports associations in the country want him to be their president," he said.