Under the backdrop of the red-shirt rally seeking a pardon for him, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra made an emotional plea – like a closing statement for his defence. But does he have a genuine case to begin with? Or even a cause to fight for?
By using sugar-coated remarks, Thaksin portrayed himself as an undying royalist. Many see it an act of hypocrisy. The rally was billed as one of reverence but the way it was organised was clearly an attempt to involve the monarchy in the political struggle.
For better or worse, Thaksin has shown his true colours in politicising the country’s revered institution. The line has been crossed and time will reveal the consequences.
Less than two months ago, the high drama of Thaksin’s plight began with the launch of a signature campaign to seek a royal pardon.
The petition was drafted to cite political injustice and double standards of law enforcement, both spawned by the 2006 coup, as grounds to seek a royal pardon for Thaksin. Some five million people reportedly signed the petition.
Leading figures and legal pundits reminded the parties concerned about the pardon process- and so campaign organisers shrewdly re-branded the petition from seeking a royal pardon to voicing the people’s suffering from injustice.
Under court traditions and relevant laws, a pardon petition must be submitted by a convict or an immediate family member. But every Thai citizen is entitled to access the King to air a grievance.
By accident or design, the wording of the petition was murky from the start, simplifying the reclassification of the campaign.
If the organisers had insisted on seeking a royal pardon, then the Royal Palace might have suggested the petition be lodged with concerned authorities, such as the Justice Ministry and the Corrections Department.
At yesterday’s rally, the red shirts and Thaksin highlighted their campaign to redress the people’s suffering. Not a word about pardon was mentioned although the core message of the petition remained the seeking of clemency on Thaksin’s behalf.
Thaksin grabbed the opportunity to equate his plight to that of the country’s.
He attributed his predicament to the seizure of power in 2006, which in turn brought about the people’s suffering, as warranting a petition for royal intervention to rectify the situation.
“His Majesty is the King for every Thai citizen and the only one who can redress the people’s suffering,” he said.
He crafted his speech to identify with the poor, showcasing his achievements in meeting the people’s aspirations.
He said his success brought about his downfall because his opponents would have lost their vested interests with any advance of democracy.
Because of his ousting, the people suffered. The political system went haywire and he became a victim of reprisal, he said.
He claimed his opponents had tried to fault him for being disloyal to the monarchy, although he never wavered in his loyalty to Their Majesties. He also said the coup-triggered judicial review was unfair in convicting him.
It was a joke for the buyer and the seller to win an acquittal – while he was penalised with a two-year jail term for giving spousal consent to seal the Ratchadaphisek land transaction, he said.
He omitted to mention, however, that the sentencing was based on his wrongdoing committed as prime minister, wielding influence over the transaction.
Regardless of Thaksin’s well-scripted speech, the bottom line is: Thaksin is demanding the King intervene and rectify his ill-fortune.
Even though he takes pride in his intellectual prowess, he appears to have overlooked no one can turn the clock back. He has fought and lost in the power struggle since 2006. And now he wants a rematch by invoking the monarchy to come to his rescue.
As a self-proclaimed democracy advocate, he should have realised the impropriety of seeking a royal intervention in the political and judicial process.
By Avudh Panananda
Published on August 18, 2009
Thaksin’s petition speech: It’s all about me and my pardon…
Thaksin Shinawatr had promised one day earlier in his Tweet to “speak my mind” yesterday before the red-shirted crowd before the submission of a petition for a royal pardon for him.
As it turned out, he did try to fight back tears when he started talking about how loyal he is to the monarchy and how he had told His Majesty that he would live until he is 120. But upon closer scrutiny, you could hear him talking about himself most of the time. It’s “me,” “mine” and “myself” — how he had been mistreated, how he had devoted himself to the betterment of the country, how he had fought hard from poverty to wealth — and how he was in a way like Bill Gates.
There was not a hint of regret. No apologies for having caused the country such rift. No proposal of a reconciliation process. Just me and my pardon.
Most critical was perhaps his insistence in his speech that the judicial system was not acceptable to him. That would put Thaksin in a very delicate position. You can’t pardon someone who doesn’t accept guilt in the first place.
It’s clear that the petition will not get anywhere now that the Royal Household Secretariat has issued a statement — only hours after the petition was submitted today — that all petitions to the King must first be reviewed by the government.
Perhaps, it was never Thaksin’s intention to get a pardon in the first place. Perhaps, the real agenda is something else.
Thaksin’s latest tweet: Something up his sleeve?
Thaksin Shinawatr just posted a tweet on Twitter saying he was readying himself for his thank-you speech to be delivered to those to gather at Sanan Luang tomorrow. He presumably meant the red-shirts who will be submitting their petition for a royal pardon.
In his tweet, Thaksin said he has “something on my mind” that he had wanted to say for a long time but couldn’t find a time as apportune as tomorrow.
No prize for guessing right what he would say but, in marketing terms, this is what is called a “teaser” — something to whet your appetite, perhaps a trick up his sleeve rather than anything earth-shaking.
Watch this space.
Thai Talk , Sunday , August 16 , 2009