Royalist worries

25 03 2009

Readers may be wondering why PPT is reporting extensively on the debate that has erupted over comments made by Thaksin Shinwatra, the prime minister deposed by the 2006 coup. The short answer is that these debates reflect deep divisions that have developed within the Thai polity as a result of the campaigns to oust Thaksin, the military coup and the subsequent attempts to rid Thailand of the so-called Thaksin regime (including the dissolving of political parties, a new constitution and a remarkable campaign by the People’s Alliance for Democracy).

PAD leaders claimed to be saving the nation and the monarchy while the coup leaders claimed that one of the reasons for the 2006 coup was that Thaksin was responsible for “… several actions verging on lèse-majesté against His Majesty the King.” The monarchy is now central to Thailand’s political debates and this is one reason why the lesé majesté law is so much in use.

In previous posts, we have commented on Thaksin’s comments about the 2006 coup and events leading to it, where he named names of some of the alleged conspirators, along with Democrat Party claims of a plan to unseat their government, denials by those named, to Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanond’s alleged disinterest in the allegations (but see below). Finally, we reported on the government’s plans to instil greater loyalty for the monarchy in the countryside, suggesting that the military and the Democrats fear the political movements that they see there.

Now Army chief and 2006 military junta member General Anupong Paojinda has also come out to deny that he was involved in any plot to assassinate Thaksin (Bangkok Post, 25 March 2009: “Anupong denies Thaksin murder plot”) while claiming “Issues relating to the coup are finished.” That seems like wishful thinking on the General’s part.

Thaksin’s comments seem to have been especially challenging for the royalists and their supporters. In op-eds, the Nation and Matichon have called for Thaksin to be stopped (Nation, 25 March 2009: “Stop him now”) and another Nation columnist (25 March 2009: “Desperate Thaksin poised to bark louder than ever”) in a somewhat incoherent article worries about Thaksin’s comments and attacks, but sees him on his last political legs.

The Bangkok Post (25 March 2009: “Thaksin faces new threat. Prem, Chinese FM to discuss HK extradition”) has a report on Privy Councillor Prem’s reported renewed interest in Thaksin. As is common, an “unnamed source” is cited, but the normally conservative Post is unlikely to be reporting material that could get them in hot water. Despite this, Prem later denied this report (Bangkok Post, 25 March 2009).

The report states that the “fate of convicted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is expected to be one of the main items today when Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda meets with the Chinese foreign minister.” It claims that “the meeting between Gen Prem and Mr Yang would underline the need for immediate action to deal with Thaksin, who recently launched a broadside against privy councillors. The meeting will also take place against the backdrop of talks on an extradition treaty between Thailand and Hong Kong.” The report then adds that “After a meeting of privy councillors yesterday, a source at the meeting said Gen Prem was concerned about comments made against privy councillors.Gen Prem did not want people to misunderstand that privy councillors were involved in politics…”.

prem-surayud1In the same report, an unnamed “close associate to privy councillor Surayud Chulanont, who was accused by Thaksin of being one of the architects of the 2006 coup, said Gen Surayud was concerned Thaksin was edging closer to offending the monarchy.”

It can’t be of much help to Prem that his comments about the Privy Council not being involved in politics are belied by a range of  reports such as this one on his meeting with the Chinese FM. Even if Prem denies the story, it is already out and circulating.

Privy Council president General Prem is reported in the Bangkok Post (25 March 2009: “Prem never listens to Thaksin”) as claiming that “he never listened to fugitive deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s phone-in speeches, but he had been briefed by Privy Councillor Surayud Chulanont. On Thaksin’s accusation that the Privy Council was involved in the bloodless coup that ousted him from power in September 2006, Gen Prem insisted the Privy Council had no role in politics. But he said the council would not take legal action against Thaksin over the allegation.”

General Prem, in a reference to Thailand’s deep political divide is reported as being optimistic when claiming that: “Most Thai people still love each other, he said. Only a relatively few people have different ideas.”



One response

6 04 2009
New: Privy Councilor and military target Thaksin « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] New: Privy Councilor and military target Thaksin There are repeated claims that, like the monarch they serve, privy councilors are “above politics.” Indeed, Privy Council president and former Amy commander and prime minister General Prem Tinsulalond recently made this claim yet again. […]

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