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Stepping down amid the tears

While other Bangkok areas were flooded with rainwater last week, the Shinawatra 1 Building was inundated with the tears from 70 employees last Friday, the last day of Boonklee Plangsiri's tenure as Shin Corp CEO.

Published on July 4, 2007

The mood in the building was subdued.

A top boss who'd been around for 15 years was about to make his exit, even though he would continue to serve as a Shin director. But that was not enough to console the Shin staff.

Shin announced plans to replace Boonklee with new CEO Somprasong Boonyachai last month. But many Shin employees were still unable to come to terms with Boonklee's departure from the CEO's office.

Those close to Boonklee, the right-hand man of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, said he had planned to quit some time ago, because he wanted to keep a low profile, especially after the Shin empire came under a political storm.

There was even speculation that Boonklee himself would lead a new political party consisting of old Thai Rak Thai members.

However, this might not be the case, as Thai Rak Thai Party leader Chaturon Chaisang launched a press conference on Monday with Yaowapa Wongsawat and Sudarat Keyuraphan on future political plans - minus Boonklee's presence.

To surprise Boonklee last Friday, all employees hid in his large office. When he came in, they joined in a hearty chorus of the song "If We're to Be Apart" - a hit by popular singer Thongchai McIntyre - as their eyes brimmed with tears.

At that evening's farewell party, they gave him a figurine made of sugar showing Boonklee as a basketball player, since basketball was his favourite sport during his university years.

When the party was over, some staff walked with him

to see him off and even rushed to open his car door for him.

At the party, Boonklee comforted staff by reminding them he was not going anywhere, just moving to become a company director, to whom they could go for advice anytime.

This is confirmed by new CEO Somprasong, who said he would not move to Boonklee's office on the 29th floor, but rather would keep it for his former boss to continue working there.

The fact that Boonklee is not going anywhere despite ending his term as CEO has convinced some that Shin will maintain all of its leading characters. Despite any official changes, Shin will remain Shin as long as Boonklee is around.



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