Thaksin may be signalling a return to the spotlight

Thaksin may be signalling a return to the spotlight

"To Phra Suthep: I have stopped for a long time but you have not. You say you have been in the monkhood for nine months. Don't be a monk merely to be covered by a saffron robe and have your head shaved. Have your heart ordained as well because you still lie frequently. (I) thought you would stop lying in your saffron robe. We knew each other quite well."

This was a tweet by fugitive ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra aimed at the former leader of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and ex-Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban. It was in response to the monk's suggestion that someone living abroad, who was linked to the old regime which lost political power, was involved in the car bomb at the Central Festival shopping mall on Samui island on April 10.

Phra Suthep's allegation of "someone abroad" was made during a merit-making ritual at Wat Rai Lang in Chumphon's Sawi district on Songkran Day. The wording "someone abroad" used by the monk, a rival of Thaksin, obviously touched a nerve with the exiled ex-prime minister and prompted him to react.

Earlier, Maj-Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd, the government deputy spokesman, said elements of the old regime which lost power might be involved in the Samui bomb blast. But that drew no reaction from Thaksin, only from his former Pheu Thai MPs.

In his tweet, Thaksin used a quote from the Lord Buddha in his encounter with Angulimala, a murderous bandit who ruthlessly killed his victims and cut off their right index fingers to form a garland of fingers around his neck.

Legend says the Lord Buddha was walking in front of Angulimala who tried to give chase, but despite running furiously he could not catch up until he became exhausted and asked the Lord Buddha to stop walking. The Lord Buddha responded that he had already stopped, but Angulimala had not. After an enlightened talk, the murderous bandit turned over a new leaf, stopped killing and entered the monkhood.

Thaksin's tweet in social media was his first in almost 12 months since the military takeover on May 22 last year. That has attracted the attention of Somsak Jeamteerasakul, a former lecturer at Thammasat University and a political exile. 

Writing on his Facebook page, Mr Somsak said Thaksin's tweet might indicate the Pheu Thai boss's new tack of forming a better relationship with the military.

A member of the National Legislative Assembly, Somchai Sawaengkarn, meanwhile, suspects Thaksin might be getting cold feet at the prospect of being dragged into the bomb plot, and the fear he might face a charge of terrorism if he remains silent and does not issue a denial.

But what does his long absence from social media mean? Being silent for almost a year is quite a long time for someone like him. Does it mean he has stopped playing politics or stopped pulling the strings in his Pheu Thai Party? 

I believe many people will cheer heartily and shower him with praise if washes his hands of politics and focuses on overseeing his global business empire, or just devotes himself to charity work like many super rich folk. Well, that may be a pipe dream.

Thaksin used Lord Buddha's quote, "I have already stopped", in his tweet to Phra Suthep. Ask his critics, and they will most likely respond, "Stopped what?"

Given his record of broken promises, they believe the former prime minister is merely waiting for the right time to make a return. 

Mutual distrust between opposing political camps remains deeply entrenched after a decade of political polarisation. Reconciliation is a far-off dream unless both sides shed the cloak of self-interest and sit down for talks with the aim of seeing reason and working towards common ground that can start the process of building trust.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the Samui bomb blast continues and the real motive for the violence remains uncertain. It will be fair to all parties concerned, especially the old regime and the Pheu Thai Party, if senior police and military officers stop implying a particular party or individual is involved without providing evidence to back up their claims.

Feeding the media with new information but not hard evidence on an almost daily basis so they remain on the front page is not the way to conduct a proper crime investigation.

Veera Prateepchaikul is a former editor, Bangkok Post.

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