Thaksin Shinawatra and his family members must express their heartfelt gratitude to His Majesty the King for his truly gracious act in granting a royal pardon, reducing Thaksin's jail term from eight years to just one year.
The King's royal pardon finds its foundation in the 2017 constitution, which clearly stipulates that "the King has the royal prerogative to grant a pardon". It is a reflection of the benevolence and wisdom of the monarchy.
However, it is important to emphasise that a royal pardon does not erase the criminal past or the convictions of Thaksin in three cases that remain on his record.
The 74-year-old inmate -- also former prime minister -- petitioned for a royal pardon after returning on Aug 22, following 15 years of self-exile abroad.
The Supreme Court had previously ordered Thaksin to serve eight years, stemming from three cases.
In the first case, Thaksin was sentenced in absentia to three years for a conflict of interest.
The court found that he had ordered the state-run Export-Import Bank to lend 4 billion baht at a below-cost interest rate to Myanmar to purchase products from Shin Satellite Plc, a company owned by his family.
In the second case, Thaksin was convicted of illegally launching a two- and three-digit lottery between 2003 and 2006.
This was deemed an abuse of power, as it lacked support from any legislative framework.
In the third case, the court sentenced Thaksin, who had amassed his fortune in the telecoms industry, to five years for malfeasance in connection with the handling of telephone concessions and conflicts of interest during his two terms as prime minister, spanning from 2001 to 2006.
While some may be disappointed and wish to see a longer jail term in accordance with the court verdicts, the royal pardon was granted with a clear reason, allowing Thaksin to "make use of his knowledge, abilities and experience to help and contribute to the nation, society and people in the future".
This is the central message that Thaksin must bear in mind and act upon once he is released.
With one year left in his jail term, Thaksin must genuinely respect the judicial process, as the royal pardon was granted based on his petition, in which he expressed remorse, acknowledged his guilt, repented and accepted the penalties imposed by the court.
Therefore, there should be no special privileges for Thaksin during his remaining time in jail. The Corrections Department must uphold its duties without bias or favouritism.
Thaksin entered prison less than 24 hours before being transferred to Police General Hospital.
Authorities must not undermine public trust in the judicial process by showing favouritism to inmates with either political or financial influence.
In Thai society, there is a saying that "prison is only for jailing poor people". Such cynicism reflects a sense of inequality in law enforcement and the justice system.
All parties concerned must acknowledge this growing perception among the public and work diligently to restore confidence in the justice system.
Thaksin must live up to the commitments he made in his petition for the royal pardon by demonstrating his genuine respect for the judicial process, acceptance of his guilt and the courage to spend his remaining one year in jail with dignity.
This is not only a personal obligation but also a commitment to the entire nation, society and to all Thai people.