Prime minister, SHSU alumnus receives Humanitarian Award

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The prime minister of Thailand will be traveling to Huntsville Wednesday to receive Sam Houston State University’s Humanitarian Award. Dr. Thaksin Shinawatra will accept the award during a ceremony at the Beto Criminal Justice Center Killinger Auditorium at 2 p.m.He has maintained strong connections with SHSU since he graduated from the university’s nationally ranked criminal justice program in 1979.Thaksin began his career as a policeman and graduated first in his class at the PoliceCadet Academy in 1973. He traveled to the United States during the 1970s to earn two criminal justice degrees, a master’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University and a doctorate from SHSU. He served in the Royal Thai Police Department until 1987, when he left to pursue his interest in communications and technology.Thaksin gained an interest in communications while he was responsible for supplying computer software to the Thai Police Department. In 1982, he and his wife, Potjaman, founded the Shinawatra Computer and Communications Group, in which he acted as chairman.The company later evolved to market pagers and cellular phones, and now has Thailand’s largest customer base.The company, which currently has assets of about $198 million, has made the Shinawatra family the wealthiest in Thailand.Today, Shinawatra’s company is called Shin Corp. and is split into two areas: theShinawatra Computer and Communications Plc. and the Advanced Info Service Plc.The Shinawatra family has spent nearly $200 million on the development of a technology-based university near Bangkok. Students at the university, which is named after the Shinawatra family, use laptops as notebooks and receive instruction in English to prepare them for employment all over the world.Thaksin also launched the THIACOM foundation in 1993, a program designed to let young students in rural areas of Thailand receive educational programming via satellite, whereas they would otherwise not receive a proper education. In 1994, Thaksin became minister of Foreign Affairs for Thailand’s Palang Dharma political party. He became head of the Palang Dharma party in May1995, and in June, became deputy prime minister in charge of traffic difficulties in Bangkok.Thaksin created the Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party in 1998, which won immense support during the January 2001 elections. Thai Rak Thai has now grown to comprise nearly10 million people.He became the 23rd prime minister of Thailand on Feb. 9, 2001. Thaksin’s Humanitarian Award will be the fourth distributed by SHSU. Past recipients of the award include James A. Baker, former U.S. secretary of state; Lech Walesa, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and former president of the Third Polish Republic; and George H.W. Bush, former U.S. president. The Sam Houston Humanitarian Award was created in 1993 to honor Texas military and political figure Sam Houston.This is the third award Thaksin has received from SHSU. He was given both the Outstanding Criminal Justice Alumnus Award and the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1996.Thaksin has carried a motto that he learned in cadet school throughout his career: “Better to die than to live like a loser.”