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A Week in Review: May 14-20, 2011

The cat's out of the bag...

Two of Thailand’s worst kept secrets were revealed last week. What were they?

Thaksin Shinawatra finally confirmed what everybody knew when he announced last week that he had chosen his obedient young sister Yingluck to lead the Phuea Thaksin (for Thaksin) political party, which is more commonly known for PR purposes by its abbreviated form of Phuea Thai.

Although currently on the run from a 2-year jail term for abuse of power, Thaksin continues to openly interfere in Thailand’s political circus and remains the de facto leader of Phuea Thai in spite of his political ban, his conviction and his fugitive status.

Dispelling any misconceptions about fighting for democracy, the dictatorial Thaksin made it clear that he alone had chosen Yingluck and he had done so because she is the only person he trusts not to stab him in the back and place the needs of his loyal but misguided supporters before his own desire to avoid justice.

However, Thaksin denied that he had chosen Yingluck as his proxy, referring to her instead as his “clone”. Having stated that Yingluck is not to be considered as his nominee, Thaksin continued by saying, "Another important thing is that Ms. Yingluck is my sister and she can make decisions for me. She can say 'yes' or 'no' on my behalf."

With a degree of sarcasm rarely exhibited by a Thai, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban highlighted the logistical difficulties of Yingluck’s appoint when he questioned how she could handle the country's administration while always having to wait for a long distance call from abroad before making any decision.

With his PhD, Thaksin holds the title of doctor although not of the Hippocratic variety. He is, however, an undisputed master of hypocrisy.

So it was when Thaksin explained to the media that his sister’s total lack of political experience should not affect her ability to become Thailand’s next prime minister. Just a few years earlier, Thaksin had seemed to hold a different opinion when he famously ridiculed current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as being too inexperienced for the role of prime minister of Thailand despite his having served almost 20 years in Thai politics.

But concerns over Yingluck’s role as her brother’s proxy/clone and her lack of political experience were briefly overshadowed when it emerged she may be ineligible to lead Thailand because of her criminal past.

When Thaksin was convicted of abusing his prime ministerial power in 2006, Yingluck was proven to have been one of the proxies with which he illegally concealed his assets. However, rumours that Thaksin’s defence had tried to pass her off as a “clone” instead of a proxy remain unconfirmed.

Nevertheless, despite abetting her brother in a major crime against Thailand, and despite three pending cases of perjury against her, Yingluck can not be prevented from standing as a candidate for prime minister of Thailand as these are apparently not considered serious enough discrepancies. In fact, some may argue they enhance her political acumen.

Such a state of affairs goes a long way to explaining why Thailand struggles to develop both politically and socially. The absolute contempt that Thai people show for law and order is the root cause of all the current troubles.

As if to underline this, Thailand’s second worst kept secret was also revealed last week when Phuea Thai announced that it would offer an amnesty to Thaksin if it won the election.

Although Yingluck had evaded answering questions about the amnesty following her appointment, veteran politician and Phuea Thai MP Chalerm Yubamrung confirmed what everybody knew.

Chalerm boldly announced that, if it won the election, Phuea Thai would push through an amnesty decree for all politicians and political groups facing charges or who have been convicted of political-related charges since the 2006 coup.  

In an attempt to make it appear as an olive branch, Chalerm stated that the amnesty would cover not only Thaksin but also yellow shirt leaders. But make no mistake about it. The amnesty – just like the street protests of the last two years – is all about Thaksin.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see the response of the yellow shirt leaders to the proposed amnesty. On the one hand, they will not want to see Thaksin return to Thailand without serving his jail term. On the other hand, many of their leaders are currently facing charges of terrorism. How they handle this moral dilemma will say a great deal about the strength of their convictions.

And so with these two secrets revealed, the picture becomes a little less blurred.

The people of Thailand have a clear and simple choice. Either they support the amnesty and the continuation of the current situation that sees corruption and greed go unpunished, or they make a stand for law and order by insisting that Thaksin et al accept responsibility and are held accountable for their criminal actions.

Over to you.

Paul Snowdon – May 21, 2011

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Have your say...

david shiel
22 May 2011, 02:46
And to think of mentality level that swallows this crap.
28 Nov 2015, 04:15
I strongly beileve the election was a referendum on who supports the monarchy.No-one can persuade me any longer that the King is widely revered anymore.Thats if he ever really was.It seems to me that everyone knows who and why this conflict has occured.The gossip and whispers about Prince Vajiralongkorn are legendary and the Queens support for PAD as you mentioned has eroded whatever reverence anyone except ultra royalists would have had .But what about the King I hear you ask.Well over the past couple of years I have been asking the same questions to my Thai friends who are living overseas from Thailand.Do you really love the king ?,I ask.Even when you know he has been supportive of coups and massacres I foolishly ask. I discovered that once you know someone really well,then they would allow you to peel away the layers and find their real thoughts,and they are quite different from what the automatic and ingrained we love the king answer.Some are highly embarrased and just shake their heads.A few have warned me to be careful what I say but are never the less understanding of the question.But the majority of overseas Thai's have answered me this way: well Darren we are Thai,thats what we have to say .
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