The reshuffle of the Thai Cabinet is official as per the Bangkok Post:
Ten new ministers appointed to the cabinet are:
1. Nalinee Taweesin, as PM’s Office Minister;
2. Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, as PM’s Office Minister;
3. Tanusak Lek-uthai, as Deputy Finance Minister;
4. Nathawut Saikua, as PM’s Office Minister;
5. Charupong Ruangsuwan, as Transport Minister;
6. Chadchart Sitthiphan, as Deputy Transport Minister;
7. Arak Chonlathanont, as Deputy Transport Minister;
8. Suchart Thada-thamrongvej, as Education Minister;
9. Sakda Khongphet, as Deputy Education Minister; and
10. MR Pongsavas Svasti, as Industry Minister.
On November 25, 2008, the US Treasury issued a press release entitled “Treasury Designates Mugabe Regime Cronies”:
Washington, DC–The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today designated four Mugabe regime cronies and a number of entities owned or controlled by two of them. The financial and logistical support they have provided to the regime has enabled Robert Mugabe to pursue policies that seriously undermine democratic processes and institutions in Zimbabwe.
In addition, OFAC is designating Nalinee Joy Taveesin, a Thai businesswoman who has facilitated a number of financial, real-estate, and gem-related transactions on behalf of Grace Mugabe, Gideon Gono, and a number of other Zimbabwean Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs). Ironically, Nalinee Taveesin has participated in a number of initiatives on corruption and growth challenges in Africa and Southeast Asia while secretly supporting the kleptocratic practices of one of Africa’s most corrupt regimes.
Today’s action was taken pursuant to Executive Order 13469, which targets, among others, individuals and entities who provide financial and other support to the Government of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwean SDNs. As a result of Treasury’s action, any assets of the individuals and entities designated today that are within U.S. jurisdiction must be frozen. Additionally, U.S. persons are prohibited from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals or entities.
BP: Nalinee is a former Senator and comes from a connected family and was until recently the Thai Trade Representative – actually BP is surprised more was not made of her Mugabe connections then as her position of the US Treasury blacklist* and what the implications were for US persons who were dealing with her when was the Trade Representative. In her new position, she may not necessarily have dealings with the US whereas as Trade Representative she obviously would, but there is no getting over the fact that a Minister – which is a higher rank, even if only PM’s Office Minister – she will get more scrutiny. BP should quickly note that this is a US Treasury blacklist and not a visa blacklist. BP is unsure whether she is eligible for a US visa because of her listing on the US Treasury blacklist, but this is not definitive, particularly as she is now a Minister so she may be granted a visa to visit the US in an official capacity. The same may not be the case if she was going to conduct business.
This is not the first time that someone being or possibly being on a US blacklist has become a political issue in Thailand. A former possible Minister, Narong was suspected to be on a US blacklist over drug trafficking/drug links in the early ’90s – see this post for some details – but that the US government has labelled someone who has become a Thai Minister as a crony of the Mugabe regime is politically embarrassing for the Yingluck government. BP has heard a statement she gave to the media today that her inclusion on the blacklist being a misunderstanding. If she is correct and can get her name removed that is one thing,** but if she remains on the blacklist then she is just engaging in political spin. So how long will she last?
Here BP was thinking it would have been the inclusion of red shirts as Ministers which would have created controversy, but Nalinee has stolen the limelight….
* Technically, it is not called a blacklist, but well it is just a term that is easier to understand..
** Working with corrupt African governments is not the politically embarrassing thing (yes, it may be morally wrong) – ask a former Prime Minister whether this has affected his position in Thai politics – but it is her inclusion on the blacklist which is the political problem. It is one thing for a Thai government to have labelled someone on the opposite side of the political divide as a terrorist or put them on a blacklist as this can be dismissed as merely partisan politics, but it is another when a foreign government, and in particular the US, does. Also, this is not a mere suspicion. She is listed on the US Treasury website.