Thaksin is 'not serious' about return
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Thaksin is 'not serious' about return

Ploy to woo voters, senators say

Red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship supporters hold a birthday party for ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawtra at a bookshop at Imperial World shopping mall in Lat Phrao in 2016. (File photo)
Red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship supporters hold a birthday party for ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawtra at a bookshop at Imperial World shopping mall in Lat Phrao in 2016. (File photo)

Academics and senators do not believe fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was serious about returning to Thailand and serving his prison term.

They said his remarks may be only intended as election campaigning to woo voters to support the Pheu Thai Party ahead of the general election.

Speaking in an interview with Kyodo News during a trip to Tokyo on Friday, Thaksin said he is ready to serve his prison term provided he is allowed to spend the rest of his life with his family, regardless of the results of the upcoming general election.

He said he is biding his time before possibly returning this year, following years of living in self-exile abroad.

He was ousted in a military coup in 2006 and left Thailand in 2008 to avoid facing time in prison.

"Now I've served 16 years already in a bigger jail as they prevent me from staying with my family," Thaksin said, referring to his life away from his home country.

"I've suffered enough. If I were to suffer again in a smaller jail, it would be OK," he added.

Thaksin said he is not angling for an amnesty from parliament even if the Pheu Thai Party comes into power in the next election.

"I told my daughter not to allow the party to push for an amnesty law for me," the 73-year-old said.

"I do not need that as those against me will not be happy."

His second and youngest daughter, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, is expected to be one of three prime ministerial candidates from Pheu Thai.

In an interview with the Bangkok Post, Senator Somchai Sawangkarn yesterday dismissed Thaksin's remarks as mere electioneering and not to be taken seriously.

Thaksin can return to Thailand to serve his jail term straight away without having to wait until after the election, Mr Somchai said.

He added there are some cases in which Thaksin must serve at least one-third of the jail term before he is eligible for a royal pardon.

''Does Mr Thaksin really want to go to jail? When combined, these jail terms may add up to 7-8 years.

''Considering his age, is he willing to go to jail? He once said he did not want to be in jail even for a single day. I don't believe he will really return,'' Mr Somchai said.

Somchai: 'Age means jail unlikely'

Thaksin's remarks that he was not seeking an amnesty were only a political gambit intended to boost Pheu Thai's election prospects as some supporters are expected to favour the Move Forward Party over Pheu Thai in the upcoming election.

Likewise, Senator Seree Suwanpanont told the Bangkok Post that Thaksin's remarks were only meant to drum up support for Pheu Thai ahead of the poll.

Mr Seree echoed the view that Thaksin is unlikely to return and serve his jail terms willingly, given his age.

''His remarks were timed to coincide with election campaigning, probably to seek political support."

Seree: 'Comments a poll tactic'

Wanwichit Boonprong, a political science lecturer at Rangsit University, said Thaksin's remarks were a desperate move to help Pheu Thai achieve a landslide win in the next election, even though it will not be easy for Pheu Thai to do so.

''His remarks that he was not seeking amnesty are only a political ploy. Thaksin is a marketing expert," he said.

Wanwichit: 'Master of marketing'

Following the 2006 coup, Thaksin was been sentenced in absentia in four out of eight cases brought against him up until 2021. The total length of the four prison terms is 12 years.

He was given two years in the two-and three-digit lottery case in which he was found guilty of violating Section 157 of the Criminal Code.

Another three years were handed down in a case involving loans totalling 4 billion baht granted to Myanmar by the Export-Import Bank of Thailand (Exim Bank).

Five more years in prison were handed down to the ex-premier in his absence in a case in which he was found guilty of using nominees to hold shares in Shin Corp.

The other two years in prison were handed down to him by the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions in the Ratchadaphisek land case.

In that case, his then-wife, Khunying Potjaman Na Pombejra, had secured a deal to purchase about 33 rai of land in the Ratchadaphisek area of Bangkok from the Financial Institution Development Fund at only 772 million baht.

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