The Bangkok Post has a really very interesting story on Thaksin Shinawatra in the region, even if it is, as often it is in the Post, from a “the source,” meaning an anonymous source.
The report says that the exiled former prime minister has appealed to several groups on “his side” of politics to “forgive and forget” all of the nasty things that have happened since the 2006 military coup. Such “reconciliation” might well serve Thaksin’s personal-cum-political interests, like trying to get his hands back on some of his confiscated lucre.
Thaksin has never been very adept at separating his own interests from those of the state and government, and this has long been his political Achilles heel. It seems he never learns on this score.
According to the Post, “tried unsuccessfully to ask relatives of the red shirts who were killed by government forces in 2010 to forgive for the sake of reconciliation.”
Good for them! Apparently, some of the relatives of those killed “at the Ratchaprasong intersection on May 19, 2010 could not accept what Thaksin asked, particularly for them to forgive those responsible for the death of 92 people.” Nor should they have to just to serve Thaksin’s personal/political interests or those of the elite who had them killed.
The report goes on to say that:
Thaksin also lobbied former classmates of Class 10 of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School to forget what happened to them after the Sept 19, 2006 coup, but also to no avail, a Class 10 member and one of Thaksin’s friends said.
Good for them!
Thaksin is said to have made:
his plea to UDD core members, relatives of the red shirts who lost their lives in political protests and his Class 10 colleagues who went to see him during Songkran in Laos, Cambodia and Singapore.
Apparently, “Thaksin wanted them to forget what happened and forgive all concerned, turn towards reconciliation and start anew.”
“The source” is said to have claimed:
Even though I am a friend of Thaksin, I and many other friends who fought together are of the opinion Thaksin was not right to have told them to forgive those who ordered the killing of their relatives. There must be people held responsible and punished. They can’t go unpunished after killing the people….
The source said that the relatives of the dead and former Class 10 officers, some of whom remain in “inactive posts,” claim they want “remedial action.”
Maybe such defiance will be a salutary lesson for Thaksin on Thailand’s new political mood.
Reconciliation is all fine and good, but the significant political change that Thaksin (probably unwittingly) unleashed through his election wins and “populist” politics has lessons that he has to learn just as much as those who occupy the rarefied heights of the royalist elite.
As Thaksin “reconciles” with that elite, whether as political tactic or through personal greed, he will be face defiance that, like other in the elite, will seem unfathomable. Undoubtedly Thailand’s politics has changed, but the plutocracy still wants to control.
Update: Readers will be interested in Nick Nostitz’s account of his journey to Cambodia with red shirts. It is at New Mandala, with some excellent pictures. The relevant parts of that report relate to: lese majeste, where Thaksin indicates a poor understanding of the issue; amnesty, where Thaksin seems vague and self-interested; and reconciliation where he seems self-interested and opposed by red shirts.