Countries that offer sanctuary to fugitive ex-PM show a lack of respect to Thailand’s rule of law
Again, does the Thai government have the courage and sense of right and wrong?
Listening to comments made by Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and Foreign Minister Sompong Amornwiwat, one wonders whether the two People Power Party leaders are blind and deaf. Over the past few days, they have been aloof and arrogant in responding to journalists’ queries about the visa ban on Thaksin Shinawatra by the British government on Friday. It is a disgrace that the Thai government has not done anything worthy at all to follow up on this crucial matter.
Obviously, Somchai has shown his true colours that he cares only for his brother-in-law. His answer is that there is nothing he can do about it. However, there are lots of steps he could take if he was honest to himself and the country. He could have revoked Thaksin’s passports because the ousted former premier is a fugitive on the run.
Never mind if Thaksin has already got a whole host of foreign passports from tax havens in the Caribbean. Such an attitude does not augur well for the kind of leadership Somchai needs to demonstrate during Thailand’s chairmanship of Asean. The prospect of Thailand playing a leading role in the Chiang Mai summit is now being obscured by the host’s lack of judgement and courage.
The British government must be commended for taking the necessary step to revoke Thaksin’s visa. Now other countries in the European Community and British Commonwealth have to consider whether they should take similar action to prevent his entry. It is worth mentioning that Thaksin has visas to go to the US and Australia. Their attitude toward his legal status will be watched by the Thai people. Further delay or any lack of action would be indicative of the two governments’ perceptions of Thailand’s judicial system.
Since Thaksin can also travel to most Asean countries without any visa, it is imperative that these members have a clear policy toward him. At the very least, the past embarrassment that occurred in Singapore during the early days of the government of General Surayud Chulanont must be avoided. Now, it is clear that Thaksin is a fugitive. Therefore if he visits any country, particularly those that have extradition treaties with Thailand, he has to be sent back to Thailand. Now the question is, with Thaksin’s brother-in-law serving as the current prime minister, will the Thai government act on this?
China is another country to watch. For a long time, Thaksin has utilised China and his connections with influential people in Beijing to arrange meetings for him and his Thai supporters. After the UK ban, if China allows Thaksin to enter the country, Thailand needs to review its relations with China as it is tantamount to abetting a criminal on the run.
Of course, the Thai people cannot expect much from this government in handling Thaksin’s case. But foreign governments that have good ties with Thailand should be more responsible. Britain’s action sends a strong signal to the international community that Thailand does respect the rule of law and the country is functioning, albeit with political uncertainties and protests on the street.
Foreign Minister Sompong is doing Thailand a great disservice by questioning the British government’s action. He should know full well the real situation better than anybody else. He himself should have revoked Thaksin’s passport long ago. His leadership, like Somchai’s, is under jeopardy. It will affect the upcoming Asean summit because he now has credibility problems.
The Thai government still has time to put things right.
First, Thaksin’s passport should be declared void.
Second, the Foreign Ministry should inform foreign countries with diplomatic ties with Thailand about the deposed prime minister’s status.
Finally, these countries should be urged not to provide any sanctuary for him. Failure to do so would undermine their bilateral ties with Thailand.
Again the question is, does the Thai government have the courage and sense of right and wrong?
By The Nation
Published on November 11, 2008
No end is sight – Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat might think that the attention given to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is overrated as he keeps telling the press not to pay so much attention to one person.
PM could do something to shake off Thaksin-proxy image– Although prime minister Somchai Wongsawat is a brother-in-law of convicted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, he said on his first day in office that he’s nobody’s proxy.
Nevertheless, as time passes, his actions and words are raising more and more doubt about whom he truly serves. Every time there’s some news about Thaksin, Somchai the PM would try to evade answering any question or pretend not to be interested. “It’s just about one man, why should we be interested,” he would say, again and again.
Somchai declines to comment on Thaksin’s diplomatic passport– “Don’t pay attention to the issue of one person,” Somchai replied
Government MPs keep adding fuel to the fire -The ruling People’s Power Party seems bent on adding fuel to thepolitical flames-and government MPs don’t seem to care whether their moves will plunge the country further into an unfathomable abyss.