Let’s hope for a change in Thaksin

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Why not something diferent for a change?  Why cannot Thaksin say something positive about Thailand and stop badmouthing his real or imagined foes just for once in his forthcoming video-linked address, should it actually take place?  …Are we asking too much from him?


Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s planned speech in Hong Kong is viewed with suspicion by the government and his opponents — although it is not known what he will say and whether it will hurt the country or not.

One question I am often asked is: “Why can’t the Thai media get it over and done with news about former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and just leave him alone?”  My answer is:  “We would like to but we can’t for the simple fact that Thaksin is still very much an influential shaker and mover in Thai politics whose actions can harm or benefit the country considerably.  But more importantly, he would not leave us alone either.”

Although many of us might have patiently put up with Thaksin’s repeated badmouthing about the government and the Thai justice system, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has shown that his patience has limits.  Last week during the Asean Summit he instructed authorities to seriously explore legal channels to extradite the fugitive ex-prime minister back home to serve his two-year jail term imposed by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.

Mr Abhisit’s instruction came a few days before Thaksin was due to deliver a speech titled “Financial Crisis, Political Uncertainty: the Lesson of Thailand”  at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong today. Whether the prime minister actually wants Thaksin extradited or whether he merely bluffing, his tough-talk has prompted Thaksin to cancel his appearance. He claimed he didn’t want to hurt the good relations between Thailand and China. 

Thaksin’s personal secretary, Pongthep Thepkanchana, said the former premier would deliver his speech later via a video link, but this new arrangement was yet to be endorsed by the event organiser.

We have no knowledge about the content of Thaksin’s speech.  Who knows, he might say something good about Thailand.  But given Thaksin’s previous record of phone-in addresses to his red-shirt loyalists, there was good reason to suspect that he would seize the opportunity to again attack the government and the Thai justice system, as well as  those he calls the elite class in Thailand. 

Hence Mr Abhisit didn’t want to take the risk by allowing the speech to go on without doing anything to stop it.

The problem with Thaksin is that he does not see his own blunders and does not accept anything which goes against his vested interests, in particular the court decisions which are not in his favour.  Also, he appears vindictive towards his foes, real or perceived.  Which explains why his every move is viewed with deep suspicion by his opponents.

Why not something diferent for a change?  Why cannot Thaksin say something positive about Thailand and stop badmouthing his real or imagined foes just for once in his forthcoming video-linked address, should it actually take place?  And then measure the response from his opponents and the general public. 

He may find out to his surprise, although belatedly, that he has won more new friends among those he perceived of as his opponents.

Take for an example the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), whose conduct in the latest anti-government protest, which was peaceful and orderly, has even won praise from the government. 

The UDD has shown that it is no longer just a mob prone to violence.  But we have yet to hear a change of tone from Thaksin. 

Are we asking too much from him?

by Veera Prateepchaikul is former editor, Bangkok Post

RELATED OPINIONS

Let the man have his say ( Bangkok Post Opinion)

Let Thaksin speak, but make it amply clear to everyone where he is coming from, on every issue.

Let Thaksin speak, but tell the world why he cannot honour his host by appearing at the supposedly prestigious luncheon in person, but only as digital signals beamed from an unknown place in an unknown land.

The government need not go to war with the Hong Kong media club about Thaksin’s talk. Let the former premier speak freely about what he believes are lessons from this country. Let the world know, too, what are the lessons for Thailand from Thaksin.

Thaksin seems ‘untouchable’

Corrupt, convicted and exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra appears to be untouchable, PM Abhisit Vejjajiva says

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