Letter to a fugitive prime minister

thongbai

Dear Khun Thaksin,

Now that you have discovered an unhindered means to communicate with people in your home country quite conveniently, I would like to urge you to take the chance to pour your heart out. What I’m looking forward to hearing is your defence to the many charges of malfeasance and corruption filed against you and your family.

When a coup was staged on Sept 19, 2006, the coupmakers cited these charges against you to justify their action, especially the controversial sale of shares of the family company worth 73 billion baht without a single baht being paid in taxes by your family members, as well as the extension of loans by your government to Burma on condition that it bought equipment from a company controlled by your family.

These cases are still fresh in the minds of many people who have to pay taxes every time they sell or buy something no matter how nominal the value.

The complex transfer of shares among your family members also raised many eyebrows, as did the land purchase case in which you were sentenced to two years in prison by the Supreme Court, prompting you to take refuge elsewhere. Since you make no effort to appeal the case, we have no choice but to conclude that the decision is final.

No wonder, therefore, that some newspapers address you as ”male convict Thaksin”.

In all these issues, you have not uttered a word in your defence, although in my view they do much damage to your honour and dignity. Since you chose to let them all pass without much fight, we here have no choice but to believe the rumours that you plan to pass an amnesty law to make them disappear as if by magic if and when you return to power.

Judging from the video link addresses you are able to make almost daily now, you could clarify all the issues and charges to your heart’s content without being interrupted by anyone.

According to principles of law, in a civil case silence means admission of guilt.

I met a villager the other day who expressed his surprise that you have not clarified the charges against you after being given the chance. This prompted him to wonder whether all the charges were true and you simply could not argue with them.

He commented that your accusation that certain persons – the president of the Privy Council and another of its members, as well as some judges and a number of elites – had conspired to mastermind the coup which deposed you was less than convincing.

For starters, the owner of the house where the meeting allegedly took place denied any talk of a coup. Moreover, if plans for a coup were being made, why weren’t commanders of the armed forces invited instead of judges?

Your salvo against Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya in your video call did not go unchallenged, as might have been expected. A veteran diplomat, fighter and speaker, Mr Kasit has the advantage that he used to work for you and therefore knows many things about you. Above all, the man has the courage to fight back.

During the no-confidence debate against him last month, he managed to thwart all those who delivered charges against him and turned on his accusers with hot words.

Mr Kasit also challenged you to an open debate, and compared you to a brown roughneck monitor (Varanus dumerilii) – a reptile that hides in holes.

I don’t blame you if you remain silent to these insults because sometimes silence is golden. After all, you are a former prime minister. How could a man of such a high position as yours stoop so low as to engage in a verbal dogfight with one of his former subordinates?

But I would like to plead with you to think more of the country and the people you claim to love. As the commander-in-chief of the red-shirted people, you could order them to stop street protests and take the fight back to the chambers of the Parliament building instead.

By acting as leader of a credible opposition you could help the country, but you are dead wrong to think that your red-shirted army can seize this country by proceeding in their present tactics. Today your army may seem to have the upper hand, but only because other groups are hibernating for the sake of peace in the country. If you take this lull wrongly and step up the offensive, you’ll be in for a nasty surprise.

The yellow-shirted people have gone back home, but if the red shirts continue to cause unrest, they might not remain at home for very long.

As your group preaches non-violence, you should practice what you preach by taking the fight to Parliament. You may be surprised to learn you will be more welcomed there. But if you continue with what you are doing today, I’m afraid your chance of victory is less than zero.

By: Thongbai Thongpao / Bangkok Post Opinion

(The 1984 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service)

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