The Two Faces of Thaksin

Former Prime Minister Thaksin gave an interview to an Australian TV channel from his luxury mansion in Dubai where he lives as a fugitive from justice. In the interview he denied that he wanted to become Prime Minister again, and that all he wanted was

“to be a lecturer … Playing golf. Giving guidance for my children — for their business endeavours.”

Well, that was enough to have me spluttering into my cocoa. How on earth does he expect the Thai people to believe this?

There’s a general election coming up in July. His party, Pheu Thai, has as its slogan

“Thaksin thinks; Pheu Thai does.”

In other words, Pheu Thai is Thaksin’s puppet.

Thaksin has appointed his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, as the party’s number one candidate and putative next Prime Minister.

One of Pheu Thai’s main policies is an amnesty for Thaksin so he can return to Thailand without being jailed for his crimes.

Incidentally, his sister has no experience of politics whatsoever and has been banned by the party leaders from debating with the current Prime Minister Abhisit because … well, presumably because she’s not up to the job.

He’s stepping back to play golf? I should coco!

Then it dawned on me: very few Thai people will read the English language press – particularly the working class farmers and taxi drivers (both car and motorcycle) that provide the party’s core base of supporters. Thaksin, Janus-like, is trying to show one square face to the West – a hard-done-by politician overthrown by a coup, unfairly living in exile, who’s given up all political ambition – and another to Thailand as the same man he’s always been.

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