Driven to acquire power and wealth
Whenever Thaksin Shinawatra has been in trouble or has needed to get a deal done, his wife Khunying Pojaman has always been there to take care of it. She is behind his success - and also behind his troubles.
Thaksin and Pojaman are two sides of the same coin.
As the daughter of a big-time police officer, Pojaman knows how to get around in the circles of power. Thaksin could not have become a telecom tycoon without her exceptional skills to pull off deals.
And he could not have made Thai Rak Thai Thailand's most powerful political party ever, without Pojaman's shrewd advice.
Now, she is trying to come to his rescue again.
Yesterday, she sprang a surprise by paying a visit to General Prem Tinsulanonda, the president of the Privy Council, at his Sisao Theves residence. Accompanied by her step-brother Bannapot Damapong, Pojaman met Gen Prem for about 15 minutes.
Details of their discussion were not disclosed, but most people would have made a good guess she must have signalled to Gen Prem that Thaksin would not make any political moves if he were allowed to return home from his exile in London.
Time and again, the 50-year-old Pojaman has proved to be indispensable to her husband's success. By making a visit to Gen Prem, she has launched an offensive at a time when she and her husband have been in a defensive mode.
The news of her visit to Gen Prem has created sympathy among supporters of Thaksin for the cause of the deposed leader. It has also put Gen Prem in an awkward political situation as both sides had been at war all along until the coup removed Thaksin from power.
In Thailand, there are certain areas in which women are better than men, especially when it comes to seeking a compromise, getting a deal done or building up a friendship.
Khunying Pojaman is using her charm once again to resolve the crisis facing her family.
By all accounts, Pojaman is a good manager. At St Joseph's Convent School, she was known only as an average student. She was quiet. But she had a lot of good friends, who would last a life-time.
In her younger days, her father entrusted her to manage the family's money. She allocated the daily expenses to her elder and younger siblings, including Bannapot.
Her ability to read people's minds is legendary. She knows the art of giving and taking. This has enabled the Shinawatra family to make business deals and subsequently command the loyalty of a broad network of people in high places, who have proved to be crucial in supporting the family's political power base.
Once Khunying Pojaman needed to get a deal done by a senior bureaucrat, so she tried to find out his favourite gift. The senior bureaucrat was known to be crazy about neck-ties, and had scores of them in his closet. But Khunying Pojaman bought him one with a colour that floored him.
Naturally, it was not too difficult for Pojaman to win business deals for the Shinawatra Group when the telecom concessions were being offered.
When Panthongtae, the family's eldest son, was young, he saw his parents working night and day without resting. He complained: "Mom, when are we going to get rich?"
Panthongtae saw what was going on in the family. He did not say: "Dad, when are we going to get rich?"
Senior managers of Shin Corp would be richly rewarded for their performances. Khunying Pojaman never forgot to give them cash or cheques in return for their efforts. If a manager needed a company car and he really deserved it, she would ensure he got it.
That's why Shin Corp was able to retain a capable management team through all these years until it was sold to Temasek of Singapore.
Pojaman also played a key role in the creation of Thai Rak Thai. She supported Thaksin's passion for politics. All the close aides of Thaksin - Dr Phrommin Lertsuridej, Dr Suraphong Suebwonglee and Phumtham Vechayachai - are in fact aides of Pojaman.
One cannot get close to Thaksin, or become a member of his inner circle, without the screening, if not control, of Pojaman. She sat beside him during the important meetings of the Thai Rak Thai Party as she was its largest donor.
But a diplomat also blamed Pojaman's political ambition for Thaksin's downfall. When it was time for him to retreat to tide over the anti-Thaksin sentiment following the sell-off of Shin Corp, he was obstinate and would not budge an inch. Some people believed that he continued to fight because his wife wanted him to hang on.
For all her strengths and weaknesses, Khunying Pojaman has proved to be the most powerful woman in the modern history of Thailand. She might not perfectly fit the role of Evita, but she is a unique personality.
She has not yet sung the famous lines: "Don't Cry For Me [Thailand] … The truth is I never left you, all through my wild years, my mad existence …"
But who knows, one day Thailand may have to devote a full page in its history to Pojaman.