Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a graduate of Sam Houston State University, was ousted in a bloodless Army coup on Tuesday while attending the UN General Assembly in New York.
The prime minister had been under pressure to resign since January after opponents accused him of bending government policy to benefit his family business.
"It kind of saddens me to see that he has been booted out of office by the military," said Dr. Rolando del Carmen, a SHSU criminal justice professor. Thaksin was one of del Carmen's students at the school.
"He was the first international student," del Carmen said. "We admitted him into the PhD program, and as I remember, he was a very bright person."
Thaksin received his Phd in criminal justice in the 1970's. After graduating, he returned to Thailand.
"I remember writing to him once and saying, 'you know, Thaksin, given your rise I would not be surprised if you became prime minister one of these days,'" del Carmen said. "Then, he became prime minister and at that time we visited him and he was very gracious."
Thaksin was a telecommunications tycoon-turned-politician. He was very popular among the rural poor and won the prime minister title in 2001.
"He was good for the country up to a point," del Carmen said. "Obviously, now the opinion is shifting in another direction, but when he was prime minister, he was terribly popular."
For now the Thai army is in charge. The army commander has said the overthrow was needed to bring back normalcy and harmony among the Thai people.
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