Thaksin claiming he is retiring, quitting politics, or taking a political break is nothing new. It has been done many times before–always as a political pretext. It is likely the latest announcement is part of the buildup to the push for a pardon for Thaksin and his return. Similar claims of quitting politics were made for these same reasons before he returned to Thailand in 2008.
Considering the time and money spent on the 2009 and 2010 uprisings and the subsequent election that ran on Thaksin’s name and reputation, Thaksin can feel vindicated at this point and should expect to have what he wants on his terms.
It will be vital for a solution for Thaksin to be settled as soon as possible. The further we move away from Pheu Thais’s big election win, the greater that unforeseen chance circumstances (like the handling of the flooding) could interfere with the government’s overwhelming popularity and ability to prevent extra-electoral forces from stalling or stopping a solution for Thaksin.
Once Thaksin’s legal problems are settled in some way, the government can call new elections–probably so that, not only so Thaksin can run, but also the 111 banned Thai Rak Thai executives who have been anxious to return to the political stage.
Another thing to understand is that promises and personal accountability in the Thai world are not held to the same standard as in the west. A big man can promise or affirm something, but does not have to stand by the promise if he feels he has a good reason to break it later.
I will not accept post of premier in the next government : Thaksin – The Nation, April 4, 2006
Thai premier to take “political break” – Reuters, April 4, 2006
[This incident in 2006 is more a case of the local press printing wildly inaccurate headlines. In this instance, Thaksin has not resigned, but simply pledged not to be PM in the next government. On the Bangkok Post website on April 4, 2006: The headline was “Thaksin: Why should I resign?” and directly to the right was the breaking news article entitled “THAKSIN RESIGNS.”]
Deposed Thai PM Thaksin quits politics – lawyer – Reuters, January 10, 2007
…The announcement by lawyer Noppadon Patama came just hours after coup leaders summoned radio and television broadcasters, all of whom have to rent air time from the government, not to carry any statements from Thaksin…
“I’m Calling It Quits” – Time, February 1, 2007
…Will you return to politics?
Right after I was ousted by the coup, I had mixed feelings. The negative feeling was that this was unfortunate for Thailand and its democracy, that the confidence I tried very hard to restore after the 1997 financial crisis would be lost. The positive part was, oh, I can retire now, I can have time for myself, for my family, I can meet friends and relax. Life is not that long, so if you can bring some happiness to yourself and your family, that’s good … I’m quite confident that if I ran [for election] today, I would win, [but] I have no political ambitions. I am calling it quits…
Transcript: Thaksin Shinawatra – FT, June 21, 2007
…FT: Am I right in saying that you said after September that you had retired from Thai politics?
TS: Yes, yes.
FT: And is that still the case?
TS: Yes, yes. I retire already, completely. Even they are not sure I am retired, they ban me from politics for five years. So don’t worry, I am retired already. Now I find myself a job as a chairman. [Laughter].
FT: So you obviously have a desire to return, but you want to return as a private citizen?
TS: As a private citizen under a democracy…
Ousted Thai leader confirms his return on Feb 28 but forgo politics – TNA, February 27, 2008
Deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra confirmed on Wednesday his return to Thailand on Thursday morning from self-imposed exile overseas to fight his corruption charges, but that he would stay out of politics…
An Interview with Ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra – Time, March 6, 2009
…Last time you spoke with TIME in January 2007, you said you were finished with politics and that you would retire. What changed?
[My political opponents] have been bullying me politically nonstop since then. I already declared that I wanted to retire. I wanted to spend my life with my family. But they were bullying me. The rule of law is not there [in Thailand]. The democratic process is not there. That is too much. All of my supporters urged me: ‘you have to come and fight back politically.’ They want [Thailand] to come back to a mature democracy…
From Red Power, October, 2011
Cover: You don’t want to [be prime minister], but history will force being a leader upon you. Why Thaksin must return to be PM again?
Jakrapob Penkair opens his heart in writing to Lt-Colonel Thaksin Shinawatra: “The heart lies far from home.”
5 years – September 19 – Open your eyes – The problem is not Thaksin – It’s ..? [This is meant to allude to someone who cannot be criticized openly – all of this is part of the build up to pressure the establishment on exonerating Thaksin.
The pro-Thaksin movement has been successful in the public mind in equating democracy with Thaksin and the return of Thaksin with the return of democracy. The message being conveyed over the past few years is that Thaksin will be drafted back to the premiership by the people.]
Torch has passed on, says Thaksin – Bangkok Post, October 17, 2011
…”Yingluck [Shinawatra], the youngest sister of our family, is now the prime minister.
“It has passed my generation already, so my generation should not return to politics,” said Thaksin in a recent exclusive interview with the Bangkok Post in this Middle Eastern state.
He noted he was “misquoted” by some international news outlets that he would return to lead the country again…
[The international press largely ignores the retirement angle in this article and instead focuses on a more combative angle: Thaksin warns military to stay out of politics]