Thaksin gives more interviews

Thaksin gives more interviews

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra speaks to Reuters during an interview in Singapore on Tuesday. (Reuters photo)
Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra speaks to Reuters during an interview in Singapore on Tuesday. (Reuters photo)

Thaksin Shinawatra continued his media offensive on Tuesday, warning the junta of the dangers if it stays on and pushes an undemocratic constitution.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha waved off criticism and demands for talks, saying the fugitive ex-premier should be speaking with police.

The foreign minister announced new rules to cut down the number of Thailand-based foreign media.

"Many are not reporters," he said, and their misleading reports gave rise to misleading headlines. (Details below)

In an interview with Reuters in Singapore, the former prime minister criticised the government for lacking the vision and talent.

"It is a government with no freedom and no pool of talent to drive the economy," he said. "The longer they stay, the longer economic hardship is going to be there."

Thaksin denied long-standing reports he had struck a backroom deal with the military to leave his personal and family interests untouched in exchange for a retreat from politics.

"We are not talking. I have never telephoned anyone. I don't know why I would get in touch with them and I have no need to," Thaksin said.

Prime Minister Prayut Tuesday directly rebuffed former premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s offer to hold talks with the government over political divisions, saying he was not paying him any attention.

Repeatedly asked if the government would talk to Thaksin, Gen Prayut said: “They’ve already answered that. He should speak with the law.”

To which Thaksin replied: "They said they can't talk to me because of the cases against me but a coup is a bigger crime."

In another interview with Al Jazeera on Tuesday, Thaksin chose to be blunt when he talked about the state of the economy and the new constitution.

"I see [the country going] backward more than forward. So, this is why we start to worry. And when it comes to the draft constitution, [this] is the worst constitution ever," Thaksin told Al Jazeera, comparing it with something that could have been written in North Korea.

To the junta, he sounded similar warnings.

"I think the situation will not allow them to enjoy the power that much because of the way they run the country. Any regime that is careless about their own people will not last long," he said.

"The military keep urging publicly that they want to do reconciliation ... They want to move the country forward, but this is one and a half years [later], and there is no sign of reconciliation," Thaksin told Al Jazeera.

"Vice versa ...They are really siding with one side and then pressuring the other side."

Thaksin, who told Reuters he spends his time meeting up with old friends including former heads of state, said he has adjusted to his nomadic life and makes, on average, 120 landings a year in his private jet.

He believes he will return to Thailand one day but won't go back to face charges or live under house arrest because of previous assassination attempts.

"I am confident I can return," he said. "I am not the bad person I am accused of being."

Thaksin's decision to speak to media this week has riled the junta.

"He remains a person without credibility who thinks he is above the law," government spokesman Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd told reporters.

Army commander Gen Theerachai Nakwanich also brushed aside Thaksin's offer, saying his attention was focused on people suffering from the drought.

"Let's not pay attention to him. Let him say whatever he wants to, but don't attach importance to him. Our attention should be on people suffering from the drought," Gen Theerachai said.

Patsara Jikkham reports from Government House:

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said Tuesday it is time to stop being lenient on foreign journalist visas, to end "misleading" reporting.

International standards are applied to visa controls for foreign journalists and the proper scope of their work, but authorities have not enforced them strictly and have been lenient, the minister said at a Government House appearance.

Officials have now been ordered to rigidly follow the regulations, and the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) had been kept informed of the changes, Mr Don said.

"Many are not reporters," he said, and their misleading reports gave rise to misleading headlines.

"We have issued warnings, because they have caused misunderstandings and had an impact on the national interest," the foreign minister said.

He denied strict enforcement of conditions for issuing M-visas was a restriction on media rights, claiming reporters in Thailand actually enjoyed the most freedom in Asia.

There were about 500 foreign reporters in Thailand and only 10% of them were problematic, Mr Don said. If they were able to clearly show who they worked for, the Foreign Ministry would be ready to consider their visa applications.

The FCCT earlier voiced concerns over the rules, saying the restrictions on those applying for a journalist's visa might affect bona fide journalists.


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