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Thaksin accuses Abhisit government of 'false patriotism'


Urges critics to share his vision of cooperation with Cambodia

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Video by: Rick Valenzuela
Thaksin Shinawatra, the self-exiled and convicted former premier of Thailand, speaks Thursday, November 12, in Phnom Penh in his controversial role as economic adviser to Cambodia.

Thailand's current leadership is guilty of “false patriotism”, fugitive ex-Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra told an audience in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

Speaking in his new capacity as economics adviser to the Cambodian government, Thaksin stressed the need for cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia as he told a gathering at the Ministry of Economy and Finance that the two countries’ economic fortunes are inextricably tied, adding: “Of course, not all my compatriots see it that way right now.”

“I do not believe those who do not share our vision right now are myopic. Their domestic political compulsions force them to false patriotism. Let's pray that they, too, will one day appreciate this partnership for the best,” he said.

Thaksin was deposed in a 2006 coup and self-exiled last year to avoid a jail term for corruption charges. His remarks came just one day after Cambodia denied an extradition request for him by Thailand – the latest move a row that saw the countries withdraw their respective ambassadors last week.

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Video by: Rick Valenzuela
Video clip: "I do not believe those who do not share our vision right now are myopic. Their domestic political compulsions force them to false patriotism. Let's pray that they, too, will one day appreciate this partnership for the best," Thaksin said.

In the conference’s opening address, Minister of Finance Keat Chhon said Thaksin’s tenure as prime minister “is generally agreed to have been one of the most distinctive in the country’s modern history”. The finance minister praised policies of Thaksin that were designed to appeal to his country’s “rural majority”, including micro-credit development and subsidised healthcare.

“Whatever the critics say about Thaksinomics, the achievements were astonishing,” Keat Chhon said.

Thaksin and Keat Chhon were speaking at a conference titled “Cambodia and the World After Financial Crisis”, attended by about 300 economics experts and members of the business community.

Security at the conference was heavy, with members of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s personal body guard unit providing protection for Thaksin. Reporters were ushered out of the conference hall minutes after Thaksin began speaking.

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