Thaksin hints he knows who’s behind anti-PM push
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Thaksin hints he knows who’s behind anti-PM push

Ex-premier says people know what senators’ motives are, but he won’t seek revenge

“In most cases, when there is a [political] movement in Thailand, it is easy to tell who is leading such moves and what their motives are,” says Thaksin Shinawatra.
“In most cases, when there is a [political] movement in Thailand, it is easy to tell who is leading such moves and what their motives are,” says Thaksin Shinawatra.

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the de facto leader of the ruling Pheu Thai Party, yesterday dropped a hint that he knows who is behind the legal move led by 40 caretaker senators that may cost Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin his job.

“In most cases, when there is a [political] movement in Thailand, it is easy to tell who is leading such moves and what their motives are,” the paroled ex-premier said during a visit to Nakhon Ratchasima, his first in 17 years.

The Constitutional Court on Thursday agreed to hear a petition submitted by the senators seeking to remove Mr Srettha from his post over the appointment of Pichit Chuenban as a PM’s Office minister.

Pichit’s questionable background is seen by the senators as a violation of the provisions in the constitution governing ministers’ ethics. He resigned on Tuesday despite insisting he was eligible for the appointment.

“Since questions have been raised, it’s the PM’s responsibility to answer them,” said Thaksin. “And no matter who was behind this move, he can surely explain it all since he has done nothing wrong.”

Responding in particular to an observation made by some analysts that Thaskin would seek revenge against the 40 senators, he said: “Oh, what right I have to do that? I’m now just an old man who is giving advice to his younger fellows.”

And when asked about remarks by some commentators that the real target of the senators wasn’t Mr Srettha but Thaksin himself, the 74-year-old ex-PM said: “Targeting me? No, I now have nothing left [that could be exploited as a reason to attack me]. I’m old now. Leave me alone.”

He said he wants Mr Srettha to serve as prime minister for as long as possible because Mr Srettha is working on a mission that will take a long time to accomplish.

Thaksin was non-committal when asked when his daughter Paetongtarn, who was put forward as one of two prime ministerial candidates in the 2023 election, might replace Mr Srettha in case he ends up being removed from his post.

Ms Paetongtarn, currently the leader of Pheu Thai, said this week that she was not prepared to be prime minister and wanted to see Mr Srettha continue in the job.

Taking over the administration of the country from the military-installed regime three years after the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on Thailand’s economy and is no easy task, Thaksin said.

Senator Direkrit Janekrongtham, who admitted to being one of the 40 senators behind the petition, insisted the group was motivated by nothing more than a desire to protect the rule of law and act against any violations of the constitution.

“We have no intention to act against anyone or treat unfairly anyone or any party in particular,” said the senator. “What we are trying to do is to protect the public interest as stipulated in the constitution.”

Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, leader of the Palang Pracharath Party, meanwhile, denied any involvement in the 40 senators’ move against Mr Srettha, saying that although some of them are his friends or close associates, they have their own stance on the matter.

A close associate of former prime minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is now a member of the Privy Council, also dismissed speculation that Gen Prayut had something to do with the senators’ move, even though some of them are former classmates from the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School.

Just over 100 of the 250 outgoing senators are serving or retired military and police officers and all of them were appointed by Gen Prayut and Gen Prawit.

Thaksin also said he had talked to Mr Srettha and told him to call a meeting of economic ministers as soon as he returns to Thailand from his overseas trips. The meeting will take place on Monday.

Ministers are expected to discuss economic stimulus measures that might be needed after first-quarter data showed the economy has grown by just 1.5%, less than expected.

Thaksin also confirmed previous reports that he had been involved in talks about the conflict in Myanmar. He insisted the talks dealt mainly with Thailand’s concerns over the border situation and measures to take care of Myanmar nationals living in the country.

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