Privy Councilor and military target Thaksin

6 04 2009

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.

Now another privy councilor has made comments that show this “non-political” claim to be nonsense.

In a recent and widely-reported interview, Privy Councilor General Pichitr Kullavanijaya (Bangkok Post, 3 April 2009: “Phichit: What privilege protects Thakskin?”) apparently claimed that “privy councillors were not engaged in politics, as claimed by Thaksin.”

This refers to Thaksin’s claims that privy councilors General Surayud Chulanont and General Prem were involved in bringing down Thaksin’s government.

General Pichitr then engaged in “non-political politics” attacking Thaksin, reportedly expressing that he was “unhappy with the government’s failure to act against Thaksin Shinawatra, while the prime minister says the government is ready to talk with the fugitive former premier.” The general went on to attack Thaksin for evading jail and using “… improper words to criticise the high institution [the monarchy], yet nothing was being done about it.” He asked: “Why is it that, continuously, no action has been taken against him?” he said.

General Pichitr urged the government to investigate Thaksin and expose “the facts to the public, especially about how Thaksin could shift a large amount of money to an island notorious for money laundering.”

Just a few days later, following Thaksin’s lawyers making a legal complaint about these money laundering claims, General Pcihitr (Bangkok Post, 6 April 2009: “Pichitr undaunted by Thaksin’s threat”) repeated his allegations, saying that the former prime minister “laundered huge amounts of money through the Cayman Islands,” adding that he was “not worried by the fugitive politician’s threat of a defamation suit.”

The Post further reported that “Gen Pichitr insisted on Monday that all the accusations he made against Thaksin were the truth — including laundering 100 billion baht of unusual wealth and making improper comments relating to the monarchy.”

Pichitr’s claim was that “Thaksin had been spending his laundered money on organising political movements in Thailand…”.

General Pichitr claimed that “… he would invite US ambassador Ralph Boyce, who provided him with the information, to reveal the details about Thaksin’s money in the Cayman Islands…”.

No politics here!

Interestingly, former US Ambassador to Thailand Ralph Boyce has now been revealed as a possible source of two pieces of critical information for the anti-Thaksin forces: this Cayman Islands report and an earlier letter between Thaksin and then President George Bush. Boyce was seen by some to be close to many in the anti-Thaksin movement during the time he was ambassador and some believe that he was supportive of the 2006 coup and the military-backed government led by General Surayud.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post (6 April 2009: “Coup-makers offer Thaksin bounty”) reports that “military officers and businessmen who backed the 2006 coup that unseated Thaksin Shinawatra have offered a bounty of one million baht (about $28,348) for his arrest and return to Thailand.”

This “anti-Thaksin group, headed by former military junta member Gen Somjate Boonthanom,” echoed Pichitr’s charges that “Thaksin has led anti-government protesters in slandering the royal institution several times, and wants him back to serve his jail sentence.”

Gen Somjate, close to the junta’s Council for National Security’s (CNS) “charged that Mr. Thaksin is the root cause of the [country’s political] problem.”

He said that “the bounty has been put up by the group of unidentified business leaders. It will be paid to anyone who can bring Thaksin to Thailand to face his two-year prison sentence on corruption charges.” He believed that political turmoil “could end if Thaksin is brought back to face justice and further prosecution…”.

General Somjate “also distributed what he called the ‘first statement’ charging that Thaksin and his red-shirted supporters from the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) had ‘slandered the royal institution both openly and secretly’ since he was forced from power two and a half years ago.”

As the privy councilors are attacked and as they counter Thaksin’s charges, a range of forces are being mobilized to oppose the UDD and Thaksin. As PPT has pointed out previously, the movement of the monarchy to political centre stage is potentially dangerous.

For the government, it is increasingly PAD supporter, royalist and current Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya who is taking the hardest line against Thaksin and the UDD, and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva increasingly looks isolated and only useful so longas he can present Thailand’s case convincingly to international audiences.



3 responses

13 08 2009
Privy councilor on the attack again? « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] is not sure if this is a new allegation, a repeat of the claim Pichitr made in early April or a response to that April claim. If any reader can enlighten us, we’d be […]

16 01 2011
Privy councilor inspects new army war room | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] accusing him of creating all of the political problems facing the country. On one occasion he invoked the name of former US ambassador Ralph Boyce in claiming  that Thaksin had been involved in money laundering. On another occasion he became […]

9 09 2011
Wikileaks: Privy councilor on Thaksin and the prince | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] anti-Thaksin comments would not be unexpected from Pichitr (for earlier posts mentioning him, see here (with a Boyce link too), here and here). He has been public and outspoken in attacking Thaksin. […]

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