In an exclusive interview with the Bangkok Post from Dubai, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra talks about amending the constitution, which, he insists, has nothing to do with him.
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Thaksin talks to the Bangkok Post in Dubai. Photo by Soonruth Bunyamanee
No ticket home needed
Thaksin insists charter rewrite isn't about him
‘‘I have my own way of getting back home without having to rewrite the charter to favour me
DUBAI : Thaksin Shinawatra says he can get back home on his own steam, so the public should forget about opposition claims the charter rewrite is really designed to have him return from exile as a free man.
"For me, getting back home or not is not my main concern. I am happy enough living abroad," Thaksin said from Dubai, where he has made his home in self-exile since fleeing a 2008 conviction for abuse of authority.
The opposition Democrat Party and other anti-Thaksin groups allege that a key goal of the charter change process, now under way, is to change the status of the monarchy and also to bring Thaksin home without having to serve his two year jail term.
Thaksin disagrees. "The Pheu Thai Party has made it clear that the section concerning the monarchy status will stay intact.
"And I have my own way of getting back home without having to rewrite the charter to favour me.
"My main concern is not how to get home, but to see how our country can develop well, and how Thais can live better."
Parliament has endorsed on their first reading three bills to amend the constitution which will lead to the establishment of a panel to rewrite the charter.
Thaksin declined to comment in detail on the charter change process, but said the changes must follow two principles for the sake of fairness.
"The first one is that the charter and all power must be linked to the people, and there must be a checks-and-balance system for all bodies under the charter," Thaksin told the Bangkok Post in an exclusive interview.
Thaksin said the section concerning the status of monarchy would be left intact.
He also said the charter amendment has nothing to do with Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lese majeste law.
"Section 112 has been in effect for more than 50 years and it had never caused any problems until the coup (on Sept 19, 2006).
"After the coup, it was used excessively. In the past, the National Police Office laid complaints under this section.
"After the coup, anyone who wanted to take action could do so."
Except for the section on the monarchy, which should stay intact, Thaksin said the constitution must be rewritten.
A leading member of the Pheu Thai party, Wattana Muangsuk, has proposed abolishing certain independent bodies established under the constitution. But Thaksin disagreed. "Independent bodies must exist. However, they must be neutral and there must be a system to balance and check their power," he said.
Thais also must change. He likened Thai elections to a soccer game.
"We play the game according to the rules," he said. "And when the game is over, it is over. But in the past, not only were the regulations unfair, but when the game was over, those who lost did not accept the result of the game."
He referred to the dissolution of his Thai Rak Thai Party, and the People's Power Party which was formed to replace it. Both parties were dissolved for election fraud.
The shape of the new charter would depend on the Constitution Drafting Assembly, which is expected to comprise 77 elected members and 22 selected members.
When Thaksin was in power, he was accused of dominating and directing many independent bodies such as the Election Commission.
Thaksin did not deny it, but said: "If they [my opponents] thought this was the defect, then they should have corrected it.
"But they did not do so. Instead, they formed new bodies which are much worse than the old ones."
When asked to evaluate the performance of the government, run by his younger sister Yingluck, Thaksin said it is doing well. However, the government is likely to improve once the five-year ban on the 111 key members of his party expires in May.
He did not rule out the possibility of a cabinet reshuffle by then, but also said: "They will be a great assistance to the government. But it is not necessary for them to take a portfolio, as they can play roles as advisers."
exclusive – limited to only one person or group of people แต่ผู้เดียว
interview – a meeting (often a public one) at which a journalist asks somebody questions in order to find out their opinions, experiences, etc. การสัมภาษณ์
amending – making changes to a document, law, agreement, etc. การแก้ไขกฎหมาย
constitution – the set of laws and basic principles that a country in governed by รัฐธรรมนูญ
insist – to keep saying very firmly that something is true ยืนกราน ยืนยัน
charter – a constitution รัฐธรรมนูญ
on his own steam – by himself without outside help
the public – people in general ประชาชน, สาธารณชน, มหาชน
opposition – of a political party that is not part of the government ฝ่ายค้าน
claim – saying that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it ข้ออ้าง ข้อกล่าวหา
exile – a situation in which you live in a foreign country because you feel you cannot live in your own country, usually for political reasons การลี้ภัย การถูกขับออกนอกประเทศ
concern – a worry ความกังวล
flee – to leave a place or person quickly because you are afraid of possible danger หนี อพยพ
conviction – when someone is officially found to be guilty of a particular crime การพิสูจน์ว่ากระทำผิด
abuse of authority – the use of power in a bad, dishonest or unlawful way การใช้อำนาจในทางที่ผิด
allege – to say that something is true or that someone has done something wrong, even though this has not been proved กล่าวหา
key – very important ที่สำคัญ
goal – aim; purpose เป้าหมาย จุดมุ่งหมาย
process – a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
under way – happening กำลังเกิดขึ้น
status – official or legal position สถานภาพ
the monarchy – the royal institution (higher institution); the throne; the crown ระบอบประชาธิปไตยอันมีพระมหากษัตริย์เป็นประมุข
jail term – the length of time a person is required to spend in jail
intact – not harmed, damaged, or lacking any parts as a results of something that has happened สมบูรณ์ ไม่บุบสลาย
favour – to give an advantage to someone or something, often in an unfair way ช่วยเหลือ
endorsed – officially approved รับรอง
bill – a written document containing a proposal for a new law ญัตติ
establishment – the process of starting or creating something การสถาปนา, การก่อตั้ง, การจัดตั้ง
panel – a group of people who make decisions or judgments คณะกรรมการ
decline – to say politely that you will not do something ปฏิเสธ
principle – a basic rule or belief about what is right หลักการ
for the sake of – for the benefit or good of someone or something เพื่อ
linked – connected เชื่อมโยง เกี่ยวกับ
checks and balances – a system that limits power within a political system, group, or organization in which no single part of it can become too powerful, because it needs the agreement of the other parts for its actions to be legal การคานอำนาจ
Criminal Code – the systems of laws dealing with crimes and their punishment ประมวลกฎหมายอาญา
lese majeste – the crime of offending, threatening or showing disrespect for a member of the royal family หมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพ
coup (d’etat) – the seizure of power in a country by a group of people, usually members of the armed forces รัฐประหาร
excessive – much greater than is usual; too much of something มากเกินปริมาณที่พอดี
complaint – when someone says that something is wrong or not satisfactory การร้องเรียน
propose – to suggest an idea for a group to consider เสนอ
abolish – to officially get rid of a law, system, practice, etc. ยกเลิก
exist – to be present in a place or situation มีอยู่
neutral – not supporting either side in a disagreement, competition or war เป็นกลาง, ไม่ฝักใฝ่ฝ่ายใดฝ่ายหนึ่ง
regulation – an official rule that controls the way that things are done กฎระเบียบ
dissolution – the process of officially ending the existence of a group of organisation การยุบ (พรรค สภา)
replace – to get rid of someone or something, and to put a new person or thing in its place เลิกใช้และนำสิ่งใหม่มาใช้แทน
election fraud – the crime of cheating in an election การโกงการเลือกตั้ง
draft – to write a document, plan, etc. that may be changed before it is finally accepted ร่าง
assembly – a group of people who have been elected or chosen in order to discuss issues and make decisions สภา, สมัชชา
comprise – to consist or be made up of two or more things ประกอบด้วย
dominate – to be in control มีอำนาจเหนือ ครอบคลุม ควบคุม
Election Commission – the independent government agency that oversees elections คณะกรรมการเลือกตั้ง
deny – to say that you did not do something that someone has accused you of doing ปฏิเสธ
opponent – someone who is competing against you ฝ่ายตรงข้าม
defect – a fault in someone or something ข้อบกพร่อง, จุดอ่อน
evaluate – to form an opinion of the amount, value or quality of something after thinking about it carefully ประเมินผล, ประเมินค่า
performance – the standard to which someone does something การกระทำ, การแสดง, การทำให้บรรลุผลสำเร็จ
improve – to get better ดีขึ้น
ban – officially not allowed to do something ห้ามอย่างเป็นทางการ
expire – to come to an end or stop being in use หมดอายุ
rule out – to stop considering something as a possibility ประกาศว่าเป็นสิ่งที่เป็นไปไม่ได้
cabinet reshuffle – changing one or more members of the cabinet การปรับคณะรัฐมนตรี
portfolio – control over a ministry; all the responsibilities of a government minister ตำแหน่งรัฐมนตรี
play a role – to carry out a particular function or duty มีบทบาท
adviser – a person who gives advice, especially somebody who knows a lot about a particular subject ที่ปรึกษา
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