Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Did he flee justice, or was he pushed?


Did he flee justice, or was he pushed?


It was only a matter of time before former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra bolted from justice and sought asylum in Britain.

Nobody was surprised. The only complaint is that Mr Thaksin left too early.

Those in close contact with Mr Thaksin say he once told them he was afraid to live in a "small and enclosed space".

Sources say Mr Thaksin consulted many political groups before he made the decision he and his wife would not to return to Thailand from the Olympic Games to face the music in the Supreme Court over the Ratchadapisek land deal.

Their three children, Panthongtae, Paethongtarn and Pinthongta were reported to have been waiting for them when they arrived in London.

One of Mr Thaksin's close associates said the Criminal Court's guilty verdict in the tax avoidance case against Khunying Potjaman was the deciding factor.

With his wife already sentenced to jail, but out on bail, Mr Thaksin must have seen which way the wind was blowing, and the likely verdicts in the several court cases against him.

Mr Thaksin apparently had learned that if he had returned to Thailand from China, he stood little chance of leaving the country again.

It is believed the judges handling the Ratchadaphisek land case would not have approved a request for a planned trip to England.

It is said the "gang of four" - as they are called by PPP's Isan Pattana faction - in control of the People Power party persuaded Mr Thaksin to "make the sacrifice" and go overseas.

The four are said to be Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, his secretary-general Theerapol Nopparampa, Finance Minister and PPP secretary-general Surapong Suebwonglee, and Newin Chidchob, a veteran politician and former Thai Rak Thai MP who controls a large PPP faction of northeastern MPs.

The PPP core group agreed that the presence of Mr Thaksin in Thailand posed an obstacle to the Samak government's running the country.

They agreed that as long as Mr Thaksin was still around, the Samak administration would continue to be looked upon as being Mr Thaksin's political tool.

They regarded Mr Thaksin as a potential trigger for political conflict, not to mention the fact that those involved in the Sept 19 coup are still looking at him suspiciously.

This now raises the question, was Mr Thaksin really in a tight corner over the court cases against him, or was he actually asked to go overseas.

Mr Samak can probably consolidate his control over the government without Mr Thaksin around. He also has the backing of the armed forces.

The confrontation between the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and supporters of the government is expected to cool down.

Mr Newin believes the PAD will soon run out of excuses to continue their protest rallies.

The "gang of four" is confident that it is now in total control of the PPP, and has now managed to secure other sources of party funding.

Still, it is difficult to believe Mr Thaksin will really wash his hands of politics for good, since he has a lot of money and many personal interests to look after in Thailand.

Most importantly, the gang of four will not give up its effort to amend the constitution.

The rise of this foursome reveals the new political networks branching out into the civil service, the capital and money markets.

Whatever their aims may be, they will inevitably be the target of vigorous monitoring by those inside and outside the PPP. And another round of political brawling could be in the works.

Wednesday August 13, 2008
Bangkok Post
General News

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