In conversation with Vir Sanghvi, actor and producer Shah Rukh Khan and actor Katrina Kaif during the first day of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi. Jasjeet Plaha/HT
Businessmen aspiring to join politics should first give up their commercial interests to avoid harassment later, said former prime minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra.
Inaugurating the 10th annual Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Friday, he said, “If you really want to enter politics, wash your hands of your businesses.”
Shinawatra, who founded Advanced Info Service, Thailand’s most successful mobile operator, was responding to questions on whether his being a telecom czar made him vulnerable in politics.
He took over as PM in 2001 and was overthrown in a military coup in 2006. Since then, he has been living in self-exile in Dubai.
“I gave up my business interests before becoming PM and distributed the shares among my children... Still, veteran politicians targeted me” as the charges of corruption were used as a “technique to keep me out of Thailand”.
His comments came amid the recent uproar here on the allegedly shady business dealings of BJP president Nitin Gadkari.
On the growing anti-corruption movements in different parts of the world, including India and Thailand, Shinawatra advocated a degree of caution. “It sometimes becomes a good excuse to accuse others of corruption."
Shinawatra also opposed the view that crony capitalism had been controlling governments around the globe. “Let us be clear that no single policy can benefit all the people. Policies should cover all the people. You have to be responsive to both rich businessmen and poor people."
The former Thai PM also downplayed the perception that despite being in exile, he had been remote-controlling the government headed by his younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra.
Praising the Indian democracy, he said he hoped countries like Thailand and Pakistan would also learn such democratic values with the passage of time. He, however, rejected the contention that China posed a major economic threat to other Asian economies like India.
Thaksin also expressed the hope India and the Association of South East Asian Nations will emerge as major trading partners in the coming days, given their historical and cultural ties.
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