Thai politics

Thaksin Tells Bloomberg He Thinks He’ll Return to Thailand This Year

The video is here.

UPDATE: There’s also a Bloomberg text story to go along with the interview. It says:

Thaksin Shinawatra, deposed as Thai premier in a 2006 coup, said his sister’s seven-month-old government will avoid the same fate due to her good ties with the army and expressed hope he’d return from exile this year.

“As long as there is no issue related to the monarchy, as long as there is no issue about internal security, the military will stay in the barracks,” Thaksin, whose sister Yingluck Shinawatra became prime minister in August, said in an interview yesterday in Seoul. “My sister works hard for the people, she respects the monarchy very much and she can work with the military without conflict.”

Yingluck’s push to rewrite the constitution risks sparking violence like in 2008 when a similar effort by Thaksin’s allies led to protests by his yellow-shirted opponents who shut down parts of Bangkok and seized its airports. Yingluck, a political novice before standing in July elections, is seeking to reassure foreign investors after floods last year swamped thousands of factories and caused the economy to shrink for the first time since 2009.

Thai politics

Thaksin to Get Thai Passport Back?

Reuters reports today:

Thailand’s self-exiled, fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra could be reissued his Thai passport within weeks as a “New Year present” from the government, the country’s foreign minister said on Friday.

Thaksin, who lives in Dubai to avoid jail in Thailand, should be granted a regular Thai passport because no court order was issued to revoke it when he fled in 2008, Surapong Towijakchaikul said.

“We are considering returning the passport to former prime minister Thaksin and we expect to be able to do so within weeks,” Surapong told reporters.

“To be fair we are reviewing the laws and we found that the action is possible … it could be a New Year’s present.”

Thaksin, a twice-elected telecoms billionaire who once owned English Premier League soccer club Manchester City, is one of the world’s most well-known fugitives and travels on passports issued by Nicaragua and Montenegro.

(All emphasis mine.)

The Bangkok Post has more.

Thai politics

No pardon plan for Thaksin, government says

The death toll from Thailand’s record flooding has risen above 600, the government says.

But both the Bangkok Post and The Nation newspapers are leading with non-flooding news this Monday morning.

The government had reportedly been attempting to arrange a royal pardon for controversial former prime minister Thaksin.

But the headlines today tell us that won’t be happening.

Here’s a cell phone pic of today’s Bangkok Post front page:

2011 11 21 bkk post

And here, via @tukky_nt, is a screen capture of The Nation‘s leading story.

2011 11 21 nation

In its story, the Post says:

The government has withdrawn its plan to seek a royal pardon for its de facto leader and fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra following strong opposition.

Justice Minister Pracha Promnok said Sunday the draft royal decree for royal pardons for convicts on the occasion of His Majesty the King’s 84th birthday anniversary on Dec 5 this year would have conventional conditions.

They include bans on convicts found guilty of drugs offences and corruption and convicts who absconded.

And The Nation reports:

Justice Minister Pracha Promnok insisted yesterday that former prime minister Thaksin Shina-watra would not benefit from the draft Royal Decree seeking pardons for inmates on the occasion of His Majesty the King’s birthday.

“Thaksin will not receive any benefit from the decree, and his name will not be included on the list of convicts eligible for a royal pardon,” Pracha said.

“Convicts on the run will not be eligible.”

Pracha told a press conference that the draft Royal Decree for 2012 used the same wording as the 2011 decree enacted under the Democrat Party’s then justice minister Piraphan Saliratwipak.

(All emphasis mine.)

More to come on the ongoing flooding. But I wanted to note that news coverage among Bangkok’s English language papers had temporarily shifted away from the floods.

Perhaps it shows that interest in the floods may be waning — and that underlying political issues (namely, Thaksin’s future) remain pressing.

Thai politics

WSJ on Thaksin, Yingluck, and the military

Today’s WSJ reports on what exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been up to of late.

The story touches on Thaksin’s recent travels, Yingluck, and the administration’s relationship with the military:

BANGKOK—Former Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra is taking a more visible role in Thailand and across Asia, stirring renewed tensions between the country’s powerful military and a new government led by the populist tycoon’s sister.

During the run-up to July’s national elections, Mr. Thaksin, 64 years old, repeatedly said he would avoid intervening in political decisions if his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, were elected prime minister. At most, he said, he would help guide Ms. Yingluck—who took office last month—on economic policy.

Political analysts said that was a carefully scripted strategy to tamp down tension between the Shinawatra clan’s populist supporters and Thailand’s powerful armed forces, which ousted Mr. Thaksin in a bloodless coup five years ago and still retain considerable power.

Mr. Thaksin recently has taken heavily publicized trips from his base in Dubai to Japan and Cambodia while his supporters push for a new amnesty law that would enable him to return to Thailand a free man. He has been living overseas to avoid imprisonment on a 2008 corruption conviction.

(Emphasis mine.)

Thai politics

Bangkok Post citing Xinhua: Thaksin to arrive in Cambodia Sept. 16

Today’s Bangkok Post says:

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will begin a visit to Cambodia on Sept 16 to attend the Asian Economic Forum Conference, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported on its website.

Hun Sen said Thaksin’s visit was scheduled before the official visit of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who will make an official one-day visit to Phnom Penh on Thursday.

(Emphasis mine.)