Scrap Shin deal or face boycott: Thai activists tell Temasek

March 8, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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Bernama News Agency
8 Mar 06

Thai protesters demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra have threatened to boycott Singapore products and services unless the republic’s government cancels the 73 billion baht (RM6.95 billion) purchase of Thaksin’s family-owned Shin Corporation by Temasek Holdings.

The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which has been leading the daily anti-Thaksin protests, gave the Singapore government-owned Temasek until Thursday to drop the deal.

One PAD leader, Rosana Tositrakul said if the Singapore government did not give a positive response, the group would organise a people’s rally from Lumpini Park to the embassy, 1km away, on Thursday.

“If the purchase is not cancelled, we will consider this as an attempt to interfere with the basic services and businesses that are sensitive to Thailand’s security,” she said after handing over a memorandum on the demand to Singapore Embassy officials.

A handful of PAD members and a group of high school students carried placards that read “Temasek Get Out” and “Thailand Is Not For Sale” outside the embassy as riot police stood by.

PAD, helmed by media tycoon Sondhi Limthongkul, is at the forefront of the campaign to oust Thaksin in the past few weeks, organising several mass demonstrations in the capital, including one on Sunday attended by more than 100,000 people.

Temasek acquired about 49 per cent of Shin Corporation’s shares from the Shinawatra and Damapong families in the largest takeover deal in Thai corporate history.

Shin’s businesses include Thailand’s largest cell-phone operator Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS), satellite operator Shin Satellite Plc, free TV station iTV Plc, budget airline Thai AirAsia and personal loan provider Capital OK.

Temasek’s investments span sectors ranging from telecommunications and media to financial services, property, and transportation and logistics.

Temasek has more than 60 per cent stake in Singapore Telecom, which owns almost 20 per cent of AIS.

The takeover of Shin Corporation will make Temasek and SingTel the largest shareholders in AIS, which is the cash cow of Shin Corporation.

Rosana said the anti-Thaksin group had already started a boycott of all Shin- related products and services, and would extend it to Singapore’s exports here if Temasek continued to hold a stake in the company.

“We will prepare a handbook of all Singapore products and services,” she said.