As Thaksin steps up his calls for his supporters to bring him home from his self-imposed exile, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship is mobilising the red-shirt people to support a petition for a royal pardon for their exiled fugitive.
Thaksin was sentenced in absentia by the Supreme Court’s Division for Holders of Political Positions to two years imprisonment for abuse of authority in connection with the acquisition of a large block of state land at auction by his then wife Khunying Potjaman in the Ratchadapisek area.
In concert with his supporters’ attempts to seek a royal pardon on his behalf, the ex-premier has stepped up his appeals for his followeer to help bring him home through his phone-ins to rallies staged by the UDD, including the latest one held Saturday night at Sanam Luang. He said he didn’t want to die alone in the desert in Dubai and wanted to come home to help deal with the ailing economy.
But there’s certain to be stiff resistance from the Democrats, the People’s Alliance for Democracy and other fair-minded people. Chirmsak Pinthong, a former senator and a strong critic of Thaksin, noted that the attempt to seek a royal pardon for the exiled former premier was unprecedented and very improper.
By tradition only a convict who has partially served his term of imprisonment has the right to ask for royal pardon.
But Thaksin ran away before his conviction was even pronounced by the court.
Also, a petition for a royal pardon has to be submitted by the prisoner alone, and not by other people as is the case with Thaksin, and this was seen as putting improper pressure on His Majesty the King, he added.
Thaksin has always criticised against the justice system of discriminating against him and against the privy council, privy president Prem Tinsulanonda in particular, for being instrumental against his downfall and all the misfortunes befalling him. Thus, a royal pardon for him will be seen as a blow to the judiciary’s credibility. There is no question that Thaksin is the most popular leader this country has ever had. But that does not mean he would be treated exceptionally. Instead, he should be treated under the same law as we all are.
Mr Chirmsak said the bid for a royal pardon could be a part and parcel of the so-called Taksin 2 plan by the red-shirts to overthrow the Democrat-led government and to reinstall Thaksin in power.
Whether the Taksin 2 plot actually exists or is it just a fabrication to discredit the UDD and Thaksin is by no means clear. But what is disturbing is that the red-shirt movement, apparently given a big shot in the arm by the two by-election victories in Sakhon Nakhon and Si Sa Ket, is back in force to challenge the Democrat-led government.
Saturday night’s rally at Sanam Luang drew about ten thousand demonstrators and the UDD has planned three more rallies in Bangkok, with the next at the Victory Monument, then the army HQ and the last at Government House.
The UDD will also step up its demands, beginning with a call for House dissolution then for the expulsion of the government.
The government has yet to react to this renewed threat. Hopefully, it will not be in the same weak and totally inefficient way it dealt with the red-shirt protesters during the Songkran festival. Any repeat would leave the government in real trouble.
By: Veera Prateepchaikul
Amnesty Move for Thaksin Draws Mixed Reaction
The Defence Minister refuses to comment on efforts by the red-shirt group to gather signatures to call for amnesty for ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra. He is also confident the pressure from the group on the government to dissolve Parliament will not affect the upcoming ASEAN meetings.
Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said the attempt by the red-shirt group to gather one million signatures for fugitive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s amnesty is a legal issue and he’d rather not comment on it.
On the call from the group for the government to dissolve Parliament in one month’s time, Prawit believes it will not affect the upcoming 42nd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and 16th ASEAN Regional Forum in Phuket from July 16 to 23. He noted the meetings will shore up Thailand’s image so the public should understand that and cooperate with the authorities in having them proceed smoothly.
The Defence Minister today traveled to Phuket to check on the preparations for the upcoming ASEAN meetings, together with Defence Permanent-Secretary Apichart Penkitti and the Armed Forces leaders.
Prawit said he is not aware of speculation that the Internal Security Operations Command has called a meeting to try to block the growth of the Pheu Thai Party, which supports the ousted premier.
Meanwhile, Pheu Thai executive Apiwan Wiriyachai, also Deputy House Speaker, denied reports that his party is spearheading efforts to gather signatures for Thaksin’s amnesty. He said the red-shirt group is fully responsible for the move. Personally, Apiwan believes this is not an attempt to pressure the Monarchy to become involved in politics.
Apiwan added the party has not discussed replacing its leader as it believes the Democrats will remain in power for quite some time so a general election will not be seen soon. He affirmed it is impossible for his party to cooperate with the Democrats to set up a government, unless the Democrats change their stance to suit the Pheu Thai Party’s.
So. Who’s behind ” Thaksin II ? “
So, nobody would own up to the alleged “Taksin II” Plan that was “leaked” a few days ago.
The “plot” was supposed to create chaos in the country, with the main aim being to oust Abhisit Vejjajiva from the premiership and to harass privy councillors and all those in power. The document was supposed to be five pages long. Deputy Premier Suthep Thuangsuban claimed he had “seen” it. But it seems that everybody else had heard about the story only from the papers. The first story in fact had been on Manager’s website. Papers, radio and television programmes then picked it up, without sourcing anybody, except to put it vaguely something to the effect that the story had ceome from “government intelligence sources.”
Thaksin Shinawatr and his supporters have denied it. Some critics call it a hoax. Others say it’s a counter-intelligence exercise. The only thing I know is that if you want to know who had leaked the news, you have to know who would benefit from such a move.