– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community
PHUKET: Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is ready to “sacrifice his family” by ending its political roles so the country can emerge from the ongoing political impasse and move forward, his close aide said yesterday.
However, Thaksin wants his political enemies to adhere to the rules and laws, according to Noppadon Pattama, Thaksin’s legal adviser and spokesman.
Noppadon said he spoke with Thaksin yesterday morning.
“He is not the root cause of the country’s problem. The problem was caused by the failure to adhere to the rules and the failure to respect the people’s decision [at the ballot box].
“He is ready to sacrifice for the country and to have his family end their political career so that the country can move forward.
“But other people also must be ready to sacrifice. It’s no use if he ends his roles but Suthep still sends the PDRC to interrupt the election,” he said, referring to Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary-general of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).
The PDRC shrugged off Thaksin’s latest offer.
“Our goal is to get Thaksin into jail. We don’t care who will get out of politics or not,” key PDRC leader Thaworn Senneam said.
Thaksin’s offer came as the embattled government led by his younger sister Yingluck faces mounting political pressure.
The caretaker prime minister is being investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Commission for alleged dereliction of duty over the government’s loss-making and corruption-plagued rice price-pledging scheme.
She is also accused of malfeasance in a case being heard by the Constitutional Court in connection with her transfer of National Security Council secretary general Thawil Pliensri.
Thaksin, who left the country shortly before the Supreme Court in 2008 sentenced him to two years in jail for abuse of power, has been in self-exile overseas.
He is believed to be pulling strings behind the scenes at the ruling Pheu Thai Party.
The former PM made remarks recently that were viewed by political observers as moves to “test the water”.
Earlier this year, Thaksin reportedly said he would have Yingluck step down as prime minister – a report that was later dismissed by Yingluck.
During the recent Songkran holiday, Thaksin insisted that the Shinawatra family would remain in politics.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said yesterday that he believed Thaksin wanted to return to Thailand in order to spend the latter part of his life peacefully in his home country.
Surapong also said he recently met a foreign fortune-teller who told him Thailand would become peaceful again after this month.
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said people in the Shinawatra family had the right to be in politics and nobody had the right to prohibit them.
“The Shinawatras have the right to be in or out of politics. But if you are in, you should comply with the law and are ready for scrutiny,” Abhisit said.
He said that to ensure peace in this country, the law must be respected.
“That means Thaksin should accept the  court ruling and come back to get the penalty,” the Democrat leader said.
“He may seek royal pardon later. He has the right to do so.”
In a comment, Abhisit, who is Yingluck’s predecessor, said yesterday that when Thaksin wanted “justice to be served” in exchange for his family to end their political roles, he believed that Thaksin was referring to a pardon for himself.
“When he talks about this, things seem to boil down to the issue of amnesty for himself. This is the main problem,” Abhisit said.
A government-backed bill for blanket amnesty to people involved in recent political conflicts led to widespread public opposition that prompted Yingluck to dissolve the House of Representatives in December. Critics and the Opposition alleged that the bill was mainly aimed at benefiting Thaksin.
PHUKET: The country appears a step closer to holding a new election after the Democrats agreed to attend a meeting today hosted by the Election Commission, along with Pheu Thai and other parties, to discuss issues surrounding the staging of the poll.
However, it is too early to assume that the political rivals will agree to the EC’s proposal to hold the new election on July 20.
While Pheu Thai wants the poll sooner, the Democrats – who have never beaten Pheu Thai in a general election – said that attending the meeting at the Miracle Grand Convention Hotel in Bangkok today did not mean it had decided to take part in the poll.
Another bad sign emerged when People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) chief Suthep Thaugsuban threatened to block the new election if no national reform agenda was implemented prior to the poll.
Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthi-yakorn said 90 days would be the shortest period the EC could organise the poll properly.
Representatives from 70 parties will attend the meeting with the EC this afternoon.
Pheu Thai strategist Bhokin Bhalakula yesterday read his party’s statement, highlighting its wish for there to be a new election and a public referendum – which it regards as the only way out of the political deadlock.
He said it was possible that the current political conflict would spiral towards civil strife because of a conspiracy among vested-interest groups to push the country into a political vacuum so a non-elected PM could replace caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Bhokin said his party opposed holding an election on July 20, arguing the delay in convening the House of Representatives and passing the fiscal budget would adversely affect the country.
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the key issue his party wanted to discuss was not when the election was to be held but how it could be held peacefully without protests and disruptions. “We must discuss how to make the election a solution for the country, and not only for politicians,” he said, “How to make people across the country accept the election; how to end political conflicts and implement national reform.
“An election official has said that the EC can ensure candidate registration in every constituency but he is not sure if the House can be reconvened. We should have learnt the lesson from the February 2 election.”
Abhisit said the Democrats did not want violence or another military coup. “In 2006, even though the country was scheduled to hold a poll, the military staged a coup before it took place for fear of confrontation and clashes between rival camps,’ he said.
Rak Thailand Party leader Chuvit Kamolvisit said his party would not send anyone to today’s meeting. “It is just drama. Even if they agree to hold an election, it cannot be completed if Suthep wants to block it.’
PHUKET: Having bee
— Phuket Gazette Editors