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Payap smooth as silk

May 17, 2001

Payap Shinawatra may be taller than his elder brother, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, but he still lives in his shadow.

While awaiting a flight home after accompanying the prime minister's delegation to Hong Kong last week, Payap wore the look of a man who knew exactly where he belonged - related to a very high-profile individual, but confident of his own role in life.

His dark blue jacket was neatly buttoned, concealing a silk necktie and check-patterned shirt tucked inside yellowish trousers. The expensive shoes bore the unmistakable cut of crocodile leather.

It must be tough for Payap to have a billionaire brother, and even tougher to stand on the sidelines while Thaksin hogs the limelight. Yet Payap said he is happy with who he is.

"I am very humble and I am happy with what I am. I don't get involved in the telecom business, but have a Thai silk business of my own," he said.

Payap is president of Shinawatra Thai Co, which operates out of a Rama IV office and a factory in Chon Buri. The Shinawatra brand of Thai silk, which originated out of Chiang Mai, is rather well-known, probably second only to the Jim Thompson brand.

"I am in business, not politics. But you know, both have the same objectives. We're in business, we have to try to please the customer. In politics, you have to work for the benefit of the people," he said. He added that he had no plan to enter politics.

Asked about the impact of Thaksin's political life on the family, Payap said in a way it was the pride of the family to have one of its members go all the way to the top. But he admitted that this pride also comes with a price tag - all the criticism directed against the prime minister.

"You know, we all have a different set of problems. Farmers have their problems, the prime minister has his. So we deal with our problems and get on with the business of the day," Payap said.

Thanong Khanthong






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