Thaksin Talks to Bloomberg about Yingluck, the Amnesty Bill, and Lèse-Majesté

Bloomberg interviewed Thailand’s former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and has run two stories that are worth a look.

The pieces are here:

Former Thai Premier Thaksin Shinawatra said his sister’s government will avoid conflicts like those that led to his ouster in a 2006 coup, even as it presses ahead with efforts to curb the power of the courts.

…and here:

Any changes to a Thai law that protects Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej and other royal family members from insults should come from his advisers, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said.

AP: “Thai Parliament takes first step toward contentious constitutional change”

The AP reported yesterday:

A joint session of Thailand’s Parliament has taken the first contentious steps toward revising the country’s constitution, implemented after a 2006 military coup.

After two days of debate, lawmakers on Saturday approved by a 399-199 vote measures that call for establishment of a constitution drafting assembly.

Divisions over whether the constitution should be revised mirror the split in Thai society since the 2006 coup that ousted then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, with opponents threatening to fight any amendments.

Constitutional change is favored by the current government led by Thaksin’s sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and opposed by the opposition Democrat Party. The government says changes are needed to make the charter more democratic. The 2007 constitution was approved by a popular referendum, but was drafted by backers of the coup and pushed through with pressure from the military.

Those against change say the amendments are intended to pave the way for Thaksin to return home from overseas exile without having to serve time for a corruption conviction.

(All emphasis mine.)

Update: The WSJ has a story today that begins:

A fragile détente between Thailand’s powerful armed forces and a populist government led by the younger sister of ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra is looking increasingly fragile after the country’s parliament Saturday began moves to change the country’s military-backed constitution.

Bloomberg on Pheu Thai’s Proposal to Rewrite Constitution

Bloomberg reports today:

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s party will propose overhauling a constitution written after a 2006 coup that ousted her brother, a move that threatens to reignite political discord.

The Pheu Thai party will present a plan to parliament tomorrow to create a Constitution Drafting Assembly comprising 99 people that has 180 days to draw up a new constitution, spokesman Prompong Nopparit said by phone today. A nationwide referendum will be held after it’s completed, he said by phone.

“The Pheu Thai party sees that the 2007 constitution is not democratic,” Prompong said. “It weakens political parties, weakens politicians and limits the freedom of people. The constitution should be drafted by people for people.”

Moving to rewrite the constitution is Yingluck’s biggest challenge to a military establishment that six years ago overthrew former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra since she took power in August. Moves by Thaksin’s allies in 2008 to change the constitution sparked violent street protests by his yellow-shirted opponents that shut down parts of Bangkok and culminated in the seizure of the city’s airports.

“The government thinks it is confident enough to make a move that will certainly upset the military and anti-Thaksin forces,” said Michael Montesano, a visiting research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. “I’d be very surprised if the Yellow Shirts can bring out the numbers they were able to bring out several years ago.”

Worth a read.

(All emphasis mine.)