More deals?

26 04 2012

How many “backroom political deals” can be attributed to Thaksin Shinawatra? Richard Ehrlich at Asia Sentinel claims to have unearthed one more, albeit a “possible backroom deal.”

We understand that Thaksin is, by vocation, a deal-maker, but the number of political deals attributed to him – most allegedly with the palace or royalist elite – stagger the imagination.

It is Thaksin’s recent claim “forecasting his return to Thailand sooner rather than later” that prompts Ehrlich’s account. As Bangkok Pundit has pointed out, there has been considerable speculation about the return over quite a long period of time. Most have the speculation has been stoked by the magical marketeer himself.

Ehrlich asks about “the conditions that would stop the assassins whom he says are hunting him and possibly allow him to dodge imprisonment?” Apparently that would revolve around a new a trial on the land deal charges that “would have sent him to prison for two years if he hadn’t fled into exile in 2008.”

The new trial would be under different judges amid speculation that even a guilty verdict should result merely in a fine, and not imprisonment.

Defense Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat is reported to have said that Thaksin is “willing to return, [and] to go through the judicial process,” which apparently includes some kind of agreement on “the appointment of people in charge of the process.”

That conviction was undoubtedly politically-driven and the verdict was only possible by breaking rather “innovative” legal ground. But, as yellow shirts and their Democrat Party allies point out, there are a number of other cases and verdicts awaiting a Thaksin return, so resolving one case may be insufficient.

However, Ehrlich states that the “possible backroom deal” is one that “may see Thaksin abandoning his effort to retrieve US$1.2 billion worth of his assets, which Thailand’s highest court seized in February 2010…”. The evidence for the deal seems to involve a statement like this by Thaksin’s on-again, off-again political ally, the aged Sanoh Thienthong.

The recent Thaksin trips to Laos and Cambodia are seen as being to “test the [political] mood…”.

Ehrlich argues that “the deal” is being sweetened by a “suggested … blanket amnesty for groups of people charged or convicted of ‘political’ crimes since 2005.” This would include the coup generals and:

the generals and opposition politicians perceived as responsible for 91 deaths … during nine weeks of street fights between security forces and thousands of Red Shirt supporters who barricaded Bangkok’s streets in 2010 while demanding an immediate election.

If there ever was a deal, we wonder if the remarkable push back on this by red shirts on this amnesty will make deal makers think again?


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