From 2001 to 2006, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra transformed
Thailand's international role from one of obscurity into a kind of
regional hegemon. Thaksin's diplomatic ambitions were reflected in
his myriad of grandiose foreign policy initiatives, designed to
locate Thailand at the forefront of regional politics and reinstall
the Thai sphere of influence over weaker neighbouring states. He
abolished the traditional bending-with-the-wind foreign policy,
revamped the Thai Foreign Ministry, and empowered Thai envoys
through the CEO Ambassadors programme. But in this process, Thaksin
was accused of exploiting foreign policy to enrich his business
empire. Thaksin's reinvention of Thailand as an up-and-coming
regional power was therefore tainted by conflicts of interest and
the absence of ethical principles in the country's foreign policy.
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