The Thaksin treatment

The Thaksin treatment

Yesterday marked three months since former PM Thaksin Shinawatra returned from self-imposed exile on Aug 22, which was the last time he has been seen in public.

It has now been over 90 days since he was handed a jail sentence and hospitalised on the 14th floor of Police General Hospital (PGH) without giving any clear reason about what's really wrong with his health.

Rumours have done the rounds that the spiritual leader of the Pheu Thai Party may be faking an illness to stay out of jail.

The seemingly privileged treatment he is receiving has damaged the reputation of the judicial system. It creates an impression of judicial double standards being rendered to this former fugitive, who would otherwise have to serve time behind bars or at least at the Department of Corrections' hospital, where elderly and sick convicts are usually sent.

The department cited his high blood pressure as the reason Thaksin was rushed to the Police General Hospital just hours after he arrived at Bangkok Remand Prison.

The fact that all the authorities involved, from Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin down to those at the Justice Ministry, as well as the department, dodged questions about Thaksin's condition and why he is being permitted to prolong his hospital stay again and again has frustrated the public further.

Late next month, Thaksin will have to submit another petition if he hopes to escape being sent to jail.

By then, all eyes will be on the Justice Ministry and the government to see how they respond.

As of now, public anger has prompted the authorities to speak up, albeit not very clearly.

It was reported earlier that Thaksin underwent two operations for "several diseases". Pol Maj Gen Dr Soponrat Singcharu, a senior doctor at Police General Hospital, said the 74-year-old politician had an operation and that his condition was stable and he had since fully recovered.

If so, why is he being permitted to extend his stay? Doesn't this rank as "undeserved privileges"?

Political activists have held several demonstrations to vent their anger. They have submitted complaints to Mr Srettha calling for an end to these double standards that authorities are seemingly applying to Thaksin, claiming it's obvious he is not as sick as he makes out. But the PM has taken no action.

The treatment of Thaksin, whose return coincided with the formation of the current government, seems to confirm the theory that a political deal was struck between Pheu Thai and the ex-junta leaders aimed at isolating the Move Forward Party.

Pheu Thai formed a coalition with the Palang Pracharat Party and United Thai Nation with the support of the pro-military senators after its earlier effort to govern with the MFP failed.

The outlines of such a partnership were clear when Mr Srettha rose to power. He kowtowed to his predecessor Prayut Chan-o-cha, despite having engaged in a war of words before the election. If anything, Mr Srettha is not the real leader.

He is just plugging a gap pending the grooming of Paetongtarn, Thaksin's youngest daughter, for the job. At that time, Pheu Thai may well call for a cabinet reshuffle and politics could become turbulent again. However, for the time being, Mr Srettha and the Justice Ministry are obliged to respect the rule of law and ensure Thaksin enjoys no privileges over other prisoners.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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