In perhaps the first interview on Twitter network, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Monday night that former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra must return to Thailand to serve his jail term.
Interviewed by Nation Group’s Editor-in-Chief Suthichai Yoon at 9:30 pm on his twitter page, Abhisit said Thaksin would have to respect the laws like all Thais.
When asked by Suthichai to confirm whether he would not hold any talk with Thaksin if the former prime minister would not return to serve his jail term first, Abhisit replied: “I want everybody to respect the laws”.
“You wouldn’t answer my question,” Suthichai asked back.
“Read my answer well and you will find the answer,” Abhisit replied.
Asked again by Suthichai to confirm his interpretation, Abhist said: “probably yes”.
When asked whether Abhisit would agree to talk to Thaksin over the Twitter network moderated by Suthichai, the prime minister said the network’s capacity of 140 characters per a post would be too limited to hold such a talk.
Asked by an audience what he would talk to Thaksin if he could have a four-eye meeting with him, Abhisit said he would tell Thaksin to return to accept the legal enforcement and the Thai society would forgive him.
The prime minister also said his government would focus only charter amendments that are related to public interest when asked whether the issue of Thaksin would affect the charter amendments.
Asked to clarify public interest, Abhisit said it would be related to the system and democratic principles, not personal interests.
“I have the duty tot uphold the laws and Khun Thaksin must be under the laws like all Thais,” Abhisit said.
Abhisit said political parties had discussed charter amendments and seemed to have a common stand on charter amendments as proposed by a special panel in charge of studying charter amendments.
The prime minister said he believed most parties would be able to reach a common stand on the amendments.
Suthichai began the interview with a question that he expected the prime minister would dissolve the House on New Year day but Abhisit declined to commit himself to the question.
“No one can tell in advance about House dissolution but I’ll devote my self to running the country,” the prime minister replied.
The prime minister added that he believes he can control the situation.
Asked about his conflicts with Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and PM’s Secretary-General Nipon Promphan over the appointment of the new police chief, Abhisit said he will carry out his duty as the chairman of the Royal Thai Police board straightforwardly and he expressed confidence that the appointment of the new police chief would be done smoothly.
Abhisit said Suthep and Nipon did not have to agree with him in every issue.
When asked by Suthichai whether it was strange that the deputy prime minister and the PM’s secretary-general did not agree with the prime minister, Abhisit said mostly he did not have problems with the two.
Abhisit said he was not afraid of having to leave the country to attend a United Nations assembly.
“Aren’t you afraid of not being able to return to the country?” Suthichai asked.
“No, I am not,” Abhisit replied.
Thaksin was toppled on September 19 three years ago after he left the country to attend a UN meeting.
When asked whether he was worried about the September 19 jink, the prime minister replied he would be still in the country that day.
When asked by Suthichai whether he mistrust the situation because he would have to make phone calls back to Thailand to check the situation from Suthep, Abhisit said it would be normal for him to monitor the situation in the country when he is making a foreign trip.
Asked by a foreigner whether the Thai political situation will stabilize, Abhisit replied in English: “Things are more stable now and will steadily improve cos my govt adheres to democratic principles and will do what’s best for the people.”
The prime minister then said good night to Suthichai.
Do they really want to talk to each other? Not now.
During the “Twitter interview” last night, I asked PM Abhisit whether he was willing to join a chat with Thaksin.
The first response was: “But I thought he didn’t want to talk to me.”
I told him that the ex-premier, in one of his recent statemennts, suggested that he was willing to talk to “anyone.”
Abhisit then said: “But you and I are her. He is abroad.”
I then suggested that we could chat through Twitter then — to which the PM countered: “But the 140-character limit could be quite inhibiting.”
When I asked whether that meant he wouldn’t talk to Thaksin until he came home to serve his jail term, the PM said: “I want everyone to follow the law.”
I told him he wasn’t answering my question — to which he said: “The answer was there.”
The plain answer was, obviously, “No.”
Thaksin emerged just now in his Twitter account to ask: “I have read the PM’s Twitter interview. Why wouldn’t I want to meet him? But I also understand that he has many problems on his hands. I can wait.”
Time passes. Positions shift.
The PM and the messy computer desk at home
I asked him as we started the “Twitter Interview” last night how I could be sure it’s the real PM Abhisit Vejjajiva that I was “chatting with,” he emailed this picture to me — that was broadcast on Channel 9 and Nation Channel.
Without being asked: Why does your computer desk look so messy? the PM sent over a tweet to say:
“This is my daughter’s computer desk. Not mine.”
The twitter interview, which lasted from 9.35 to 10.35 pm, was mostly in Thai. The PM had told me he wasn’t very good on the Thai keyboard. “I would get some help with that, though.”
I am not sure who was by his side but the responses from his keyboard were prompt and accurate. As for the last question and answer in English? I am pretty sure the premier typed it all out on his own.
Abhisit and Thaksin: Never the twain shall meet
I must confess I am at my wit’s end. Despite my utmost efforts, I can’t really figure it out what to make of this highly significant political riddle.
Perhaps you can tell me whether an Abhisit-Thaksin summit (off the record or otherwise) could take place at all after you have digested the nuances and subtleties that I have managed to extract from the current prime minister and ex-premier.
This was my exchange with PM Abhisit during a “Twitter interview” on Monday night on this particular subject:
Q: Thaksin says he is ready to talk to you. Will you talk to him?
A: I thought he said he wouldn’t talk to me.
Q: He said he was ready … but he didn’t know who to talk to.
A: You see?
Q: Aren’t you trying to play hard to get?
A: No, it has nothing to do with my personal feelings. My duty is to follow the law. Khun Thaksin must abide by the law like everyone else.
Q: A Twitter follower has a question for you: If you had a face-to-face meeting with Thaksin, what would you tell him?
A: I will tell him to come under the law – and then society will think about forgiveness.
Q: Does that mean that if Thaksin didn’t come back to serve his jail term, you wouldn’t talk to him?
A: I want everyone to respect the law.
Q: Mr Abhisit, you are not answering my question.
A: If you read carefully, the answer is there.
Q: Can I presume it’s the way I interpret it?
A: Probably, yes.
Q: If I invite both of you for a chat, would you come?
A: Khun Thaksin wouldn’t come. You and I are in Thailand.
Q: Well, we can chat through Twitter
A: The number of permissible characters [on Twitter] is too small.
Q: Brevity may at times be better. Lengthy talk may lead to the trouble we are facing today.
A: Some things need to go in-depth. We can’t be superficial about it.
Q: That means both sides continue to speculate on the other’s direction then?
A: No one needs to guess my direction. I am interested only in the country’s direction, and to do the right things.
The next day, Thaksin wrote in his Twitter account:
“Mr Abhisit says I don’t want to meet him. Who wouldn’t want to meet the prime minister? But I also realise that Khun Abhisit is very busy with lots of problems. I can wait.”
On the same evening, Thaksin went on his Internet radio programme, repeating the same theme, adding:
“I am ready to work together (with anyone) for the country’s sake … but the main condition is that there must be justice for me.”
There you are. Perhaps the two aren’t meant to meet anytime soon anyway.
What it boils down to, I presume, is this:
Thaksin wants to tell Abhisit: “I will return only after an amnesty.”
Abhisit in turn might want to make it loud and clear: “Come home. No one can stop you. I will visit you in jail.”
Thai Talk, 10 Sept 2009
@THAKSINLIVE: I could wait to talk to Abhisit : Thaksin
Runaway ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday he could wait to talk with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, as Abhisit seemed to have many problems to deal with.
Thaksin said in his Twitter; ThaksinLive, that he sympathised with Khun Abhisit who, he said, was busy solving many obstacles.
“I can wait to talk to Khun Abhisit as he is now busy,” Thaksin tweeted.
He was responding to a Twitter interview between Abhisit and Nation Group’s editor in chief Suthichai Yoon last night.
Earlier in perhaps the first interview on Twitter, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Monday night that former PM Shinawatra Thaksin should return to serve his jail term.
Interviewed via Twitter by Nation Group’s editor-in-chief Suthichai Yoon on Monday, Abhisit said Thaksin, like all Thai citizens, should respect the law.
The interview was conducted while Abhisit was at home and Suthichai at the Nation Group headquarters.
When asked to confirm if he would hold talks with Thaksin should he return to serve his jail term first, Abhisit replied: “I want everybody to respect the law.”
“You didn’t answer my question,” Suthichai responded, to which Abhisit replied: “Read my answer well and you will find the answer.”
Asked again by Suthichai to confirm his interpretation, Abhist said: “Probably, yes.”
When asked if Abhisit would agree to conduct an exchange moderated by Suthichai via Twitter with Thaksin, the PM said the 140 characters per a post limit would hamper a proper discussion.
When asked by the audience about what Abhisit would tell Thaksin should they come face to face, the PM said he would tell Thaksin to return to face the law and that the Thai society would forgive him then.
In response to whether the Thaksin issue could affect the proposed charter amendments, the premier said his government would only focus on charter amendments related to public interest. When asked to clarify the term public interest, Abhisit said the amendments would be related to the system and democratic principles, not personal interests.
“My duty is to uphold the law – and Thaksin comes under the law like all Thais,” Abhisit said.
He added political parties had discussed charter amendments and seemed to agree with the proposals made by the special panel in charge of studying them. The PM said he believed that most parties would be able to come to an agreement on the amendments.
Suthichai’s first question to Abhisit was if he was planning to dissolve the House on New Year Day, but the premier refused to give a committed answer.
“No one can predict the House dissolution, but I’ll devote myself to running the country,” the PM replied, adding that he believes he can control the situation.
Asked about the conflict with Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and PM’s Secretary-General Nipon Promphan over the choice of the new police chief, Abhisit said he would carry out his duty as chairman of the Royal Thai Police board, and was confident that filling the police chief’s seat would go smoothly.He added that Suthep and Nipon did not have to agree with him on every issue.
When asked by Suthichai whether it was strange his deputy and permanent secretary-general did not agree with him, Abhisit said that usually he does not have problems with the two.
He also said he was not afraid of leaving the country to attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting, and was not afraid of not being able to return.
On September 19 three years ago, Thaksin, who had left the country to attend a UN meeting, was ousted and has not returned since.
When asked if he was worried about the September 19 jinx, the PM said he would be still in the country on that day.
Pressed by Suthichai on whether he would need to keep checking with Suthep about the situation back home, Abhisit said he would do that anyway if he was overseas.
In response to a tweet from a foreigner on whether the Thai political situation would stabilise, Abhisit replied in English: “Things are more stable now and will steadily improve, ‘cos my govt adheres to democratic principles and will do what’s best for the people.”
The PM then bid Suthichai a good night and signed off.
By The Nation
Published on September 9, 2009