Thaksin's royal decorations may be next target

Thaksin's royal decorations may be next target

A poster in Kanthalarak district of Si Sa Ket in November 2013 bears the message:
A poster in Kanthalarak district of Si Sa Ket in November 2013 bears the message: "Si Sa Ket people want Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to return home and will unite to fight for democracy to the end." (Bangkok Post file photo)

A reform councillor has floated the idea that Thaksin Shinawatra should be deprived of the royal decorations he received throughout his career as a policeman, minister and prime minister following a move by police to strip him of his rank.

Prasarn Marukpitak, a member of the National Reform Council, told Thai media on Saturday that it was payback time for Thaksin.

"The government did the right thing when it proceeded to strip him of his rank," said Mr Prasarn. "I think it's only right if the cabinet should at the same occasion take back all his royal decorations.

"After all, stripping someone of a rank and royal decorations requires seeking royal permission.

"For someone who has bordered on violating Section 112 on numerous occasions, he doesn't deserve them."

Section 112 of the Criminal Code is the lese majeste law, which makes it a crime to insult the royal institution.

Thaksin is facing the loss of his police colonel rank in connection with an interview in Seoul on May 20 in which he accused privy councillors of masterminding the coup last year. The government also stripped him of his Thai passports this week.

The fact that there have been few responses from Thaksin's Pheu Thai party and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) indicates that many on his side may have found his actions increasingly hard to swallow, Mr Prasarn added.

"I have learned that some Pheu Thai members are beginning to defect, especially those second in the ranks of the UDD," he said.

"They understand now that if they continue to follow Thaksin's footsteps, they'll be burned in hell. After all, they have sacrificed blood, sweat and tears for someone they don't even know now.

"Thaksin has run out of his chances to return to Thailand. His future is sealed."

Shortly after news broke that he would might lose his police rank and might also face lese majeste and defamation charges, Thaksin posted on his @thaksinlive Instagram account a picture of himself meditating before rows of Buddha images in what looks like a room in his house.

"After getting to know and carrying my granddaughters in Singapore, I'm now in Dubai and have a chance to meditate like any other day when I'm free," he wrote.

"But today I also pray for the powers-that-be so they are free from greed, rage and ignorance so they can concentrate on solving the country's problems and bring about true reconciliation.

"I believe in Lord Buddha's teaching that everything is transient. That's why I don't want the issue about my passport to create such a commotion. I will always be myself until I die. I'd like to see all Thais have mercy on one another. Law and guns can't solve the problems. Only mercy can."

Army 'can't be insulted'

Army chief Udomdej Sitabutr said on Saturday that the army had to sue Thaksin to show that what he said was not true.

"If we let it go and fail to protect the honour of the armed forces, it means we're cowed," Gen Udomdej said.

The army accused Thaksin of breaking defamation laws on May 26 following the brief interview in South Korea in which he implied that the armed forces were acting at the behest of privy councillors.

"I considered it and I found it caused damage to the army so I took action," he said.

The army, however, stopped short of directly filing a lese majeste charge against Thaksin. It simply filed a complaint so that police can take further action.

Commenting on Thaksin's Instagram post criticising the government's problem-solving efforts, the general said the government and the military had been trying to create reconciliation.

"I'd like to ask the speaker whether he has done his part, especially when what he said is not true and tarnishes the image of the armed forces and soldiers," said Gen Udomdej.

"If I sit back and do nothing, it's tantamount to accepting that what he said is true.

"This is not a personal problem. Nobody is getting personal with him. My action and the army's are for the good of the country. I'd like to ask whether he really should have uttered those words."

Yingluck may face extended ban

Also on Saturday Peerasak Porjit, a vice-president of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), said former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra's ban from politics might be extended beyond five years.

He was referring to a new investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission into the decision by Ms Yingluck and her then-foreign affairs minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul to restore Thaksin's passports when she led the government. Those passports had been voided after he fled the country in 2008 before being sentenced for abuse of power.

Under the NACC law, if the agency decides a case has grounds, the NLA will proceed to impeach the persons in question. The result is that they will automatically be banned from politics for five years.

"The NLA has a guideline on this but it will not be a double impeachment," said Mr Peerasak. "At the very least, the ban will be extended. It depends on the NACC's findings."

Ms Yingluck was impeached early this year on the charge of dereliction of duty for her role in the rice-pledging scheme. She cannot run as candidate in an election for five years.

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