Thaksin eyes a third way home
ANALYSIS: Ex-premier could return this year if he plays his cards right, and he may have an ace ready
Ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra told his red shirt supporters over the Songkran holidays that this year might be the right time for him to return home.
But what he didn't tell them is exactly how he would do it.
Prinya Tevanaruemitrkul, deputy rector of Thammasat University and a law lecturer, believes there are at least three means the ousted premier could employ to expedite his way back to Thailand.
The first is to push for the issuance of the amnesty law. The second is for a new constitution, which could contain an amnesty clause, being put in place.
However, neither of these two options would be an easy task to achieve because Thaksin's opponents are keeping a close watch on moves to pass the amnesty law and also the charter amendment, Mr Prinya said.
- Amnesty delayed: Official say 'no rush' with law
Any attempts to enact the amnesty law and new charter could lead to a resurrection of anti-Thaksin movements, which might gain enough strength to put the Yingluck Shinawatra administration under serious pressure, he said.
Mr Prinya said Thaksin would have looked at other means as well, aside from these two options.
"A clever man like Thaksin will certainly play several cards at a time. He will have prepared several methods. Once he sees it is difficult to play the first two cards, he will have a third alternative," said Mr Prinya.
According to Mr Prinya, the third alternative is Thaksin seeking a royal pardon for the two-year jail term he received in the Ratchadapisek land case.
If he obtained a royal pardon Thaksin would then return to Thailand to face the judicial process in four other cases that are still pending in the courts.
However, Thaksin might set the condition that if he is to be tried for the four other cases, all investigations carried out by the Assets Scrutiny Committee (ASC) would have to be nullified and re-investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Commission or any group not hostile to him, Mr Prinya said.
The four other cases are the two- and three-digit lottery scheme, the Exim Bank loan for the Myanmar government, alleged irregularities in satellite concessions which allegedly favoured Shin Corp, and alleged assets concealment while he was in political office.
"This option could be the most acceptable to people who are politically neutral. Nobody would get everything they wanted, none would lose everything," said the political analyst.
Mr Prinya added that people who wanted to see Thaksin jailed would not get everything they wanted. The same goes for Thaksin's supporters who want Thaksin to returns home a free man without any legal obstacles _ they will not get everything they want either.
Meanwhile, Noppadon Pattama, Thaksin's legal adviser, said it would not be an impossibility for the ruling Pheu Thai Party to help Thaksin return home by the end of the year.
He insisted, though, that Thaksin did not want to benefit from any provision in the amended constitution. In his opinion, the best way home for Thaksin is the reconciliation bill drafted by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung.
Mr Noppadon said the government deliberately put the reconciliation bill to parliament so that representatives of the people could freely debate the proposed legislation.
"The bill will be thoroughly reviewed by the House committee. The government would not use any dictatorial means to enact the law," he said.
People may have noticed that even the research team from King Prajadhipok's Institute agrees with the suggestion the investigations by the coup-appointed ASC should be nullified, he continued.
"We are not proposing laws to whitewash Thaksin. Instead, we are proposing them to get rid of the coup's legacy," said Mr Noppadon.
"Thailand really needs to free itself from the shackles of political disputes to be able to regain a leading role in Asean."
Over the past seven months, the Yingluck Shinawatra administration has driven its political reconciliation efforts via parliamentary means, particularly through meetings of the House committee on national reconciliation and the House committee on constitutional amendment, he added.