Abhisit is here, where is Thaksin?

Abhisit Vejjajiva sat at the Democrat Party headquarters in Phaya Thai and said, "If I’m guilty, then execute me". Whether he’s a "murderer" who ordered the killing of "innocent" civilians or not, he’s here in Thailand willing to face charges. So let the court decide.

  • Published: 23/05/2013 at 09:49 AM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

Abhisit Vejjajiva: If I am guilty, then execute me.

But where is Thaksin Shinawatra? 

Should there be a question about the objectivity of the court, then that has already been answered by Thaksin himself. On Sunday May 19, he told some 26,000 red-shirts that the Democrat Party's allegations that red-shirts "burnt down the city" were groundless because the Criminal Court had acquitted the red-shirt suspects. Apparently he trusts the judgement of the court. 

Why then does he not come back to stand trial?  

Thaksin has said there is no problem if he and the protest leaders are not included in the proposed amnesty. As such, he now supports the bill proposed by Worachai Hema. But while both red and yellow leaders are here in Thailand facing charges, he is not. 

Why then does he not return to face charges?  

An argument could be made that he was wrongly convicted of corruption charges and faces two years imprisonment by a court and legislation that was trumped up undemocratically by the leaders of the military coup in 2006. 

It is a valid enough argument, but still I would ask why is Thaksin not here standing up against this so called "injustice"? Life is a risk. Courage is a virtue. A leader must show character. Truth never dies, but it can be painted and bent. 

If a lone citizen persecuted by the power of the state chooses to escape into exile, then I say it’s a wise move. But Thaksin is one of the most powerful people in the country, only he’s not in the country. He has the weight of the entire Pheu Thai government behind him and a network of billionaire allies. He has loyal followers in government agencies, the police and the military. He can put tens of thousands of red-shirts in the streets. 

He’s not exactly helpless. He has plenty of cards in his hand. 

One may argue that Abhisit is protected by the old establishment, that’s why he doesn’t feel the need to flee. I wouldn’t deny that this isn’t true either. People of power have their own networks, their own benefactors and protectors. However, at the end of the day, everyone is here in Thailand fighting for what they believe in, but where is Thaksin? 

I’m not arguing whether Thaksin’s previous convictions were righteous or wrongful. Let the colour-coded worshippers go at it. I’m only asking, while hundreds have already sacrificed life and limb and freedom, where is Thaksin? 

Thaksin, who famously stated in 2010 that if the first bullet is fired he would return to lead the red-shirts – several thousand bullets have been fired, bombs exploded, 92 people have been killed, it has been three years since. Where is he?  

Those who would make allegations against Abhisit, the Democrats, the court, the old establishment, the military and the yellow or multi-colour shirts, I would not argue against any of it. In fact, I would probably agree with a lot of those allegations. 

But the fact of the matter is, Abhisit is here saying, "execute me if I’m guilty", but where is Thaksin? 

There is no doubt in my mind that millions of Thais love and worship Thaksin and would sacrifice life and limb for him. There is no doubt in my mind that he did good things for the country. There is no doubt in my mind that a grave wrong was done in ousting a democratically elected prime minister through a military coup. There is no doubt in my mind that Thaksin, too, deserves justice. 

Thaksin Shinawatra talks to red-shirt supporters gathering in Bangkok on May 19, 2013.

But why is he not in Thailand fighting for "justice"? 

A thousand excuses can be made as to why he cannot return, but the reason why he should return can be put into three words: courage, leadership and sacrifice. 

Again, Thaksin is not a lone citizen persecuted by the state. He’s one of the most powerful men in the history of Thai politics, a man whose patronage network can, and has many times, move the entire nation. 

It’s high time the red-shirts demanded his return, and together they can stand up to fight for what they call democracy, justice and truth. Otherwise, democracy is but "shamocracy", justice is pronounced "just-us" and the truth is painted red and bent into a square. 

About the author

Writer: Voranai Vanijaka
Position: Political and Social Commentator

Latest stories in this category