Thaksin sparks online debates for being released on parole

Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister of Thailand, was released on parole following six months in hospital. He returned to his home, Ban Chan Song La, in the Bang Phlat district of Bangkok yesterday, February 18. His parole sparked an online debate regarding his privilege and issues of inequality.

Thaksin arrived in Thailand on August 22 last year after 15 years of exile. He was immediately escorted to the Supreme Court where they sentenced the former Thai PM to eight years in prison according to three charges. However, he received a royal pardon, reducing his imprisonment to one year.

The 74 year old former PM was then taken to the Bangkok Remand Prison that day. He was in jail for a few hours before being transferred to the Police General Hospital at midnight due to a congenital disease. Thaksin remained in hospital for almost six months before his release on parole.

The Department of Corrections stated that Thaksin met specific criteria, including being an inmate over 70 years old, having chronic illnesses, and completing one-third of his sentence. His six-month stay at the hospital was considered one-third of his one-year imprisonment.

Thaksin’s family collected him from the hospital, where he was seen sporting dark blue shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, complete with neck collars and a cast on his right arm. Upon reaching Ban Chan Song La, his daughter, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, a former PM candidate from the Pheu Thai Party, posted a picture of her father by the pool.

“After 180 days without fresh air and sunlight and 17 years away from this home, my father sat outside the house like this. He sat there for quite a long time. #FinallyHome”

Online criticism

While several Thai politicians and political activists congratulated Thaksin’s release, many netizens sparked a debate on his release making the hashtag #Thaksin at the top of Thai Twitter.

Some netizens questioned the severity of Thaksin’s health condition, arguing that he appeared healthy enough to remain in prison like other inmates. Observers noted that Thaksin looked more than well, even having the time to cover his grey hair compared to other old prisoners who usually leave jail with grey hair.

Others demanded the Corrections Department to ensure justice and equality for other inmates who did not meet the same specific criteria as Thaksin.

The Move Forward Party (MFP) also expressed its stance on Thaksin’s release in an official announcement.

“If the government wants to bring justice to Thaksin, the action must not stress the double standard system of the justice processes in Thailand and must not encourage anyone to have legal privileges over others. The government has to equally provide justice to everyone.”

It remains uncertain whether the former PM will re-enter Thai politics or how he might engage in political roles in the future.

According to ThaiRath, Thaksin, as a parolee, must adhere to specific rules from the Corrections Department. For example, staying at the reported address, obtaining permission before leaving, refraining from visiting other inmates, avoiding carrying weapons, maintaining honest employment, and reporting to the prison monthly.

Thaksin Shinawatra at his house after 17 year and 6 months in hospital
Thaksin’s daughter, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, shared a photo of her father on the Instagram account @ingshin21
Thaksin released on parole
A Thaksin supporter outside Ban Chan Song La | Photo by Wason Wanichakorn via AP

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Petch Petpailin

Petpailin, or Petch, is a Thai translator and writer for The Thaiger who focuses on translating breakingThai news stories into English. With a background in field journalism, Petch brings several years of experience to the English News desk at The Thaiger. Before joining The Thaiger, Petch worked as a content writer for several known blogging sites in Bangkok, including Happio and The Smart Local. Her articles have been syndicated by many big publishers in Thailand and internationally, including the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Bangkok Post. She is a news writer who stops reading news on the weekends to spend more time cafe hopping and petting dwarf shrimp! But during office hours, you can find Petch on LinkedIn and you can reach her by email at

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