Updated: Deal or no deal?

28 02 2016

In yet another article at The Diplomat, Shawn Crispin discusses Thaksin Shinawatra and “a flurry of foreign media interviews” he’s recently given.

We last posted on Crispin’s take on Thaksin and the military dictatorship a couple of weeks ago.

Whereas Crispin had previously written of a “deal” Thaksin had made with the military for his political silence, readers are now told it was a “self-imposed silence…”, while noting “rising government [he means the military junta] pressure on the exiled former leader’s family’s interests, signaling the delicate rapprochement that has underpinned a near two year period of stability may be coming undone.”

We hadn’t seen much “rapprochement.”

Later in the article, the author refers to “an apparent post-coup accommodation, where Thaksin’s personal and family interests have until now been untouched by the junta in exchange for Thaksin’s deactivation of his political machine…”.

The Thaksin interviews, he says, are a response to the rice subsidy case against Yingluck, which Crispin implies have somehow been recently intensified by the regime, but which in fact have been ongoing since the military coup. Readers can see one take on the trial here.

Crispin cites an anonymous “foreign mediator familiar with the situation” who claims that “Thaksin has met privately on at least one occasion, if not more, with Defense Minister [Prawit Wongsuwan] … in Singapore.” He adds that “Thaksin also met last year with junta representatives in London, where the two sides discussed the contours of a possible democratic transition with the caveat that a Shinawatra family member would be barred from assuming the premiership.”

The source for this latter claim is anonymous “diplomatic sources.” These sources say “Thaksin apparently rejected those terms [of a deal],” and they “speculate” that this was because Thaksin “may aim to promote his media owner son, Panthongtae Shinawatra, as his Pua Thai party’s next leader.”

The same envoys are said to “suggest the junta’s now rising pressure on the Shinawatra clan’s financial interests could be a punitive response to those apparently failed talks.”

Finally, in among on-again-off-again deals, anonymous sources, speculation and suggestions of failed talks, Crispin guesses that “Thaksin’s criticisms are for now more likely posturing than threat, a bid to remain relevant with his past grass roots supporters and to deliver a veiled threat that decisions and investigations against his family’s financial interests could yet be met with a destabilizing response similar to the chaos seen in 2010.”

While t is clear that there have been talks between Puea Thai Party associated figures and the junta since the coup, beyond that we are left with speculation. Crispin is right on this point:

His [Thaksin’s] criticism of the draft charter is widely shared across the political spectrum, with the rival Democrat party, royalist military-appointed drafters of the now abrogated 2007 constitution, and even members of Prayut’s first constitution drafting committee all weighing in against articles that would give the military and its appointed proxies overarching powers over any future elected government.

That isn’t speculation.

Update: For those who are interested, Thaksin has appeared at Al Jazeera:


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1 03 2016
Is it Prawit’s show now? | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] part of the payback for Thaksin’s recent outspokenness, Yingluck is being tailed by a bunch of military thugs. As jester, Prawit said that the soldiers […]

1 03 2016
Is it Prawit’s show now? | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] part of the payback for Thaksin’s recent outspokenness, Yingluck is being tailed by a bunch of military thugs. As jester, Prawit said that the soldiers […]