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Deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra as the new chairman of Manchester City Football Club speaks to a Thai reporter at the club's training ground before the opening of the English Premier League in mid-August.

A year after the military coup that overthrew him from power, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra is still fighting a political battle with the military leaders. He says they have treated both him and democracy in Thailand badly.

Although he has not set foot in the motherland for a year, Thaksin refuses to die. He rejects the destiny that the junta led by General Sonthi Boonyaratglin imposed on him while he was attending a United Nations meeting in New York on September 19, 2006.

He has launched his political war from abroad. His strategy is simply "an eye for an eye".

Thaksin has fought over every inch of ground as the Council for National Security (CNS), as the junta calls itself, has tried to "finish him".

His first counter-strike came shortly after the coup. While the CNS had been tightening its grip to control the media, a series of allegations and charges against him had begun, giving him no chance to defend himself.

Thaksin knew the junta had blocked all channels to reach the Thai public, particularly his supporters, to regain his legitimacy. So, he turned to the world.

Within a few months after the coup, Thaksin had hired three major American public relations and lobbying firms to manage his image and his standing in the international community while he was in exile in London.

The PR firms were Barbour Griffith & Rogers (BGR), Edelman and Baker Botts LLP.

The specific lobbying issue of BGR was to "provide and counsel with regard to Mr Thaksin's interests in Washington DC and abroad", according to a document dated November 10, 2006.

Alan VanderMolen, Edelman's vice president for Asia-Pacific, was quoted as saying to the International Herald Tribune on January 19 that the firm would help arrange meetings with the press to support Thaksin's efforts to return to Thailand.

Baker Botts, according to the registration, was hired to help "develop and implement a strategic approach to the various international legal and political issues that confront Dr Thaksin as a result of the coup of September 19".

What followed had been expected. Thaksin conducted numerous interviews with the international media, including CNN, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, Asahi Shimbun, the Kyodo News Agency and a string of others.

Moreover, Thaksin then travelled to countries including Japan and Russia as a respected scholar. He gave lectures about democracy and justice that he claimed had been lost from his country.

Thaksin believes that winning the international front will lead to a victory at home in the end.

He has kept telling the world the same message: "The coup is illegal. All charges against him and his family members by the military-sponsored agencies are illegitimate. Arrest warrants against him and his wife Pojaman are totally unfair. The junta should return democracy to the Thai people immediately."

So when Ken Adelman - a former US ambassador to the United Nations and an adviser to Edelman - accused Thailand's military of trying to steal US intellectual property in its drug-patent dispute with US drug firms in April, the Democrat Party alleged that the move was part of Thaksin's plot to undermine the junta's credibility.

Although Thaksin has lived in exile and refuses to turn himself in to defend the graft charges of the Assets Examination Committee (AEC) until the elected government assumes power, he is perceived to be around. He hires a leading agent to fight for him on legal and political battlegrounds.

Noppadon Pattama has turned himself from a politician into a top lawyer and spokesman for the Shinawatra family. As a former Democrat MP and a vice minister of the disbanded Thai Rak Thai Party, he doesn't only defend his clients.

He counters allegations of Thaksin's opponents and in recent months has managed to sue the AEC for "Bt100 billion" on behalf of his clients.

Thaksin and his wife Pojaman recently launched separate lawsuits, each of which seeks Bt50 billion in damages over the AEC's freeze on their assets and bank accounts pending investigation into alleged wrongdoing and corruption by the deposed prime minister.

Their children, Panthongtae and Pinthongta, and Pojaman's brother Bhanapot Damapong will file similar lawsuits separately against the AEC for freezing their bank accounts.

As the mainstream media is blocked by the junta, Thaksin's fight has extended into cyberspace.

Although he denies that he sponsors anti-coup websites including, they have become homes of assault against the CNS. Thaksin's photos, video clips, music videos and links to other anti-coup websites can be found.

After letting his supporters run their own campaign for months, Thaksin in late July launched his own website (contents in Thai and English) under the motto "The Truth Shall Set You Free" to counter the junta's charges against him.

When several community radio stations run by Thaksin's supporters aired his live phone calls from London in May - calling for an early general election and voicing concern about poor people - it was only the beginning of his serious campaign to revive his support base.

After Thai Rak Thai was disbanded by the Constitutional Tribunal, Thaksin's supporters pushed stronger for their campaign.

A rally in late July by the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD) ended in a riot in front of the Bangkok residence of Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda.

Thaksin allegedly sponsored the rally as his former Thai Rak Thai MPs led the protesters, calling for Prem to resign as top adviser to His Majesty the King.

The DAAD, which had turned into a pro-Thaksin movement, politically achieved its goal as it sent a strong message to the Thai and international communities that Prem, a fierce enemy of Thaksin, was the true coup leader rather than junta chief General Sonthi.

Moreover, the DAAD has voiced to Thaksin's supporters that their beloved premier would never return to power as long as Prem still holds his position.

Having lost his power base by the coup, Thaksin recently found a new powerhouse that sits in the hearts of most Thai people. It's football. Whether they like Thaksin or not, Manchester City has become the talk of the town among Thais.

As the new chairman of a leading English football club, Thaksin has also proved that he can regain his popularity in the country, as the August 19 national referendum showed that his support in the North, Northeast and Central is still solid.

 He launched a campaign to bring Thai footballers to play in the English Premier League, which would be the first time ever in the history of Thai football.

As Thaksin turns Manchester City into a popular football club in Thailand, its name will play a major role in the next election. Thaksin's supporters have perceived the club as a new symbol of their loyalty to the ousted premier after Thai Rak Thai was dissolved.

Hence, one should not be surprised to learn that some 70 former Thai Rak Thai MPs, who recently joined the People Power Party, are planning to fly to London to show their loyalty to Thaksin ahead of the general election due on December 23.

Thaksin is alive and strong in the current power game, even though he lives in exile.

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