Thaksin’s proposed way out is self-serving

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Thaksin’s latest offer to end the current political impasse clearly shows that all the protests by his red-shirt followers are not in the interests of the democracy he claims to cherish so much, but only to serve his own ends.

Fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has offered a “way out” of the political impasse that has assailed Thailand for the past three years in his latest phone-in address to his red-shirt supporters in front of Government House.

His “way out” – or in other words his demands – are:  a blanket amnesty for all political offenders, himself in particular;  the dropping of all charges or cases against him and others; dissolution of the House and calling of fresh elections; and his promise that he will not contest election (please note, not a promise that he will quit politics for good).

To sum it up in Thaksin’s own words, the ex-premier wants all political stakeholders, be they red-shirt or yellow-shirt people, to forgive and forget and to go back to the period before the April 2 election in 2006 “as if nothing have ever happened”.

In exchange for his proposed “way out”, the red-shirt protesters would cease all their anti-government protests and go back home.  And the country would return to normalcy.

Not surprisingly,  Thaksin’s proposition coincides with the opposition Puea Thai party’s submission of the National Reconciliation Bill to the House.  The bill was written in a way that not only seeks to pardon all politically related offences committed before and after the Sept 19 coup, including all the charges brought against Thaksin, but also seeks to pre-forgive all the offences yet to be committed until May 8. 

The pre-forgiving clause of the bill was seen, naturally, by Thaksin’s opponents as an indication  the opposition and its red shirt supporters might have some illegal actiities in mind  – and thus the need for a pardon in advance.

Mr Thaksin’s proposition may sound tempting, but is unacceptable.  A blanket amnesty, in particular, should be applied only to those who have partially served a punishment, or who at least feel repentant for the offences they committed. 

But in Thaksin’s case, he has not served a day of his two-year jai lterm for misuse of his authority oin facitlitating the purchase by his then-wife, Khunyin Potjaman, of the state land in Ratchadapisek at a discounted value.  Nor does he feel he did anything wrong.  

Also, dropping of all the charges pending against Thaksin would mean that he would get back the 76 billion baht from the sale of Shin Corp’s shares to Temasek of Singapore that was frozen by the now defunct Assets Scrutiny Committee.

It would a mockery of the justice system if the blanket amnesty were to be accepted.  This would   serve onlly to benefit of Thaksin, who has always accused the judiciary of being biased against him.  Moreover, the rule of law would be rendered meaningless.

All protesters who broke the law should face the consequences of their actions.  Which means the yellow-shirt protest leaders who led the illegal occupation of Government House and the two international airports must be prosecuted.  The same standard should be applied to the red-shirt leaders if they break the law or incite their followers to violence.

Thaksin’s proposed “way out” is self-serving because he would benefit the most, although many other politicians such as the former executives of the disbanded Thai Rak Thai, Chart Thai and Matchimatippataya parties would also benefit. 

It would possibly end the current protest by the red shirts, because they are answerable to him.  But it is a pure fantasy to say his proposed “way out” would end the political impasse or the political divisiveness which now runs deep in Thai society. 

By: Veera Prateepchaik , former editor of the Bangkok Post.

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