Original post (updates below): This article will cause apoplexy in the palace and government if for nothing else than the headline. Thaksin speaks to the Times Online (8 November 2009: “Ousted Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra calls for ‘shining’ new age after King’s death”) as he heads to Cambodia.
Thaksin is reported as calling “for reform of the country’s revered monarchy and spoken of his expectations of a ‘shining’ new age after the passing of the ailing King Bhumibol Adulyadej.” According to the article, Thaksin sees that he has a political future in a Thailand led by King Vajiralongkorn.
Throwing his hat in that pond won’t win him a huge number of supporters or is he just further stirring the political and palace pots?
Thaksin says: “He’s not the king yet. He may not be shining [now]… But after he becomes the King I’m confident he can be shining . . . it’s not his time yet. But when the time comes I think he will be able to perform.”
According to the Times, “Thaksin is careful to emphasise his deep loyalty to King Bhumibol, but is deeply critical of the ‘palace circle’, principally members of the Privy Council, whom he blames for plotting his overthrow with the help of senior generals.”
The Times also makes this claim: “Supporters of Mr Thaksin have told The Times that by endorsing the Crown Prince and lending some of his own popularity, he hopes to gain the support of a future monarch who will not interfere with his political ambitions.” Thaksin is quoted as saying, “The Crown Prince may not be as popular as His Majesty the King…. However, he will have less problem because the palace circle will be smaller . . . He had education abroad and he’s young. I think he understands the modern world.
He went on: “When the world is changing every organisation must adapt to the changing environment…. Every institution, not just the royal institution, is the same — it must be adapted.”
The Times states that “Thaksin’s supporters are still hopeful that King Bhumibol may use his 82nd birthday next month to issue some kind of pardon or amnesty that would allow him to return to Thailand as early as January.” Thaksin says that he hopes that “after His Majesty gets stronger he will find a way for the country to be back to unity. We cannot let the country go on like this. We will be getting worse and worse and the division will be getting deeper and stronger.”
PPT leaves it to readers to contemplate this article and its implications.
Update 1: The transcript of the interview is at Times (9 November 2009: “Thaksin Shinawatra: the full transcript of his interview with The Times”). It is stated in the headline that it is a “full transcript” while the next lines state: “Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia Editor of The Times, spoke to the ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra at his home in Dubai. Here are edited excerpts from their conversation.”
Update 2: Thaksin claims that this interview in the Times has distorted his views (Bangkok Post, 9 November 2009: “Thaksin: My comments were distorted”). He states: “It (the article) was a complete distortion of my interview. The falsified article has caused confusion among the readers and the Thai people. The headline made by Timesonline is not true. I never said that in the interview…”. He says he is “very upset” and “condemn[ed] Timesonline for publishing this false and confusing article.” The former prime minister says that he did not “offend any institutions” but “defended the monarchy as being above politics and said Thai people adore the institution.” He added: “I would like to repeat again that my family and I are loyal to His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen and, like all Thai people, ready to sacrifice our lives to protect the monarchy.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s spokesman called on “all parties to take action on this matter, saying that it affected the feelings of Thais.” Democrat Party spokesman Buranaj Smutharaks “said that this is not the first time Thaksin has offended the high institution.” Buranaj, who regularly calls for media censorship, said that the “Democrat Party will propose the government and security agencies consider appropriate action against media that report the interview.”
Update 3: Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya has called for the Ministry of Justice to decide whether Thaksin has committed lese majeste (not for the first time, see here): “The foreign minister said he found many of Thaksin’s comments in the interview to be strongly offensive, inaccurate and unacceptable by the majority of people.” PPT guesses that Kasit means that he believes that the majority will find it to be this way.
Kasit “believed Thaksin, in giving the interview, had a hidden objective.” He added that the “Foreign Ministry would issue a statement to the foreign media setting the facts straight…”. PPT can’t wait for that!
Perhaps not by chance, the Bangkok Post has its Quick Poll up today asking: “Do you feel Mr Thaksin has betrayed his country by becoming an economic adviser to Cambodia?” Again, PPT sees the coming together of two dangerous forces – xenophobic nationalism and blind loyalty monarchism.
Update 4: It seems the link to to story PPT originally posted on (Times Online, 8 November 2009: “Ousted Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra calls for ‘shining’ new age after King’s death”) is now blocked in Thailand, with a default redirect to the MICT page for blocked sites. Even so, the fuller transcript (Times Online, 9 November 2009: “Thaksin Shinawatra: the full transcript of his interview with The Times”) appears not to be blocked. In any case, the transcript is a better read, with more details and greater context than the other, now censored, story.
If readers have access, Thai E-News is translating some of the transcript (see คำต่อคำทักษิณสัมภาษณ์ TIMESONLINE แฉสื่อลิ้ม-สื่อหลักบิดขาวเป็นดำจากภักดีเป็นล้มสถาบัน).
Update 5: The Times Online (10 November 2009: “Thai government bans Thaksin Shinawatra interview with The Times”) has a new article that details the moves to prevent people in Thailand see the original pice cited above.