Red Carpet Unrolling for the Return of Thaksin

Red carpet unrolling for return of Thaksin – Bangkok Post, September 18, 2011
…However, the main obstacle standing in his return to politics might be the army.
To which, Thaksin told Parry that he has friends who are generals in the army; that he talks to these generals and that they understand him.
When Parry asked if he could name these generals, Thaksin laughed and replied: ”Please, no. They will be in trouble.”
Is the picture crystal clear?…

[2015 note: Like many Thai newspaper articles from just a few years ago, this article is no longer online. Below is the complete text of the original article.]

Bangkok Post : Red carpet unrolling for return of Thaksin

“Well, you know it’s something that we cannot expect. It’s a kindness. It’s not expected.”

That was the response fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra gave to Richard Lloyd Parry of The Times in an interview on Aug 24 when asked about the possibility of Thaksin receiving a royal pardon.

But before any ”unexpected kindness” there must be an appeal process. Some background.

Pending royal approval, Pol Col Suchart Wonganantachai is in line to become the new director-general of the Corrections Department. Pol Col Suchart is said to be a close friend of Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung.

He’s also a former subordinate of Pol Gen Sombat Amornwiwat, who is said to be a close friend of Thaksin. Pol Gen Sombat’s daughter is Anuttama Amornwiwat, deputy government spokeswoman.

While at the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), Pol Col Suchart was responsible for building the case around a procurement of fire trucks in 2004, which erupted into quite a scandal. The main defendant in the case is Democrat heavyweight and former Bangkok governor Apirak Kosayodhin.

The colonel was also tasked with building the 2009 case for the dissolution of the then ruling Democrat Party over alleged irregularities in campaign donations.

On Feb 12, 2010, Democrat and then deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban transferred Pol Col Suchart from the DSI to the Information and Communication Technology Ministry. But Pol Col Suchart still volunteered to be a witness for the prosecution in the case against the Democrats.

The case was dismissed on Nov 29, 2010 as the Election Commission was unable to file the charges within the mandated time period.

Last week Justice Minister Pracha Promnok proposed that Pol Col Suchart be named director-general of the Corrections Department, which is responsible for the appeal process for a royal pardon.

The previous director-general, Chartchai Suthiklom, had been accused of stalling the appeal process, letting the 3.5 million petition signatures _ 35 boxes in all _ gather dust in a room. The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) submitted the petition seeking a royal pardon for Thaksin in August, 2009.

Mr Suthep has said Pol Col Suchart’s transfer can be viewed as paving the way for the return of Thaksin without his having to do any jail time. He said the transfer may stir a public panic and that for the past month the efforts to help Thaksin have intensified.

However, in an interview, Pheu Thai MP Jatuporn Prompan, another UDD leader, said that the idea that the motive for the proposed transfer is to facilitate Thaksin’s appeal for a royal pardon is ”nonsensical”.

MP Jatuporn said insisted that no matter what action the Pheu Thai government takes, it will always be viewed as ”political”.

In an interview last week, Senator Wanchai Sonsiri referred to Section 6 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which says a person convicted of a crime who is more than 60 years old and who has received a sentence of no more than three years may appeal for a royal pardon.

Thaksin is 62, and his sentence is two years.

On the question of whether Thaksin would have to do any jail time, Senator Wanchai explained that Thaksin could sit at the police clubhouse for five or 10 minutes, and that would be fine as far as the law is concerned.

He said there’s no need for him to be imprisoned. Justice Ministry spokesman Thirachai Wutthitham also spoke on the issue.

In an interview with the Bangkok Post, he cited Section 259 of the code, which says a petition for a pardon can be presented to His Majesty the King through the justice minister for a person convicted of a crime who may or may not have been imprisoned.

Under Section 265 of the code, when a pardon is granted, the punishment must not be imposed.

On whether there’s a precedent in regard to Section 259, Mr Thirachai said former attorney-general Komain Patrapirom, who was sentenced to two years, suspended, for blocking the promotion of a public prosecutor in 1993, was given a pardon.

What this all means is that when the time comes that Thaksin steps off the plane at Suvarnabhumi airport, he would be under the custody of the Corrections Department, with Pol Col Suchart potentially as the new director-general, while the legal question for appeal has been answered, with a precedent.

When he does return, does Thaksin expect to become prime minister again?

He told Parry of The Times that he would not take on the job even if his sister, the prime minister, gives up her seat for him.

But pressed about what he would do if the people wish it so, he replied: ”Normally, it can be known by different ways. The people may be asking _ you know, big enough numbers. Or they may ask me to go for election again, and they vote for [me]. I may test by going for election as an MP, not necessarily to be a prime minister.”

However, the main obstacle standing in his return to politics might be the army.

To which, Thaksin told Parry that he has friends who are generals in the army; that he talks to these generals and that they understand him.

When Parry asked if he could name these generals, Thaksin laughed and replied: ”Please, no. They will be in trouble.”

Is the picture crystal clear?

Voranai Vanijaka

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