Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra made a brief appearance in front of the private jet terminal at Don Mueang airport on Tuesday morning, after 15 years in self-exile.
His private plane arrived at Don Mueang airport at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, as planned. Thousands of supporters and major political personalities, largely from the Pheu Thai Party, greeted him outside the MJETs private aircraft terminal at Bangkok International Airport.
At 9.25 a.m., Thaksin strolled out of the private aircraft terminal with his three children, dressed in a dark blue suit and a pink necktie. He paid his respects to a portrait of His Majesty the King positioned near the entrance ahead of his arrival.
Then he made a Wai with his hands and waved to supporters while smiling calmly and looked at ease. He walked to greet major political figures, largely from the Pheu Thai Party, who were smilingly waiting outside the terminal’s entrance.
Thaksin and his children stood in front of the terminal for three minutes before returning inside. It had previously been stated that he would be transported to the Supreme Court near the Grand Palace to face penalty processes.
Thaksin had lived in self-imposed exile since his removal by a military coup on September 19, 2006, with the exception of a brief visit to the country in 2008. During his absence, the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions convicted him in four separate cases to a total of 12 years in prison.
Thaksin was found guilty of misuse of authority in the purchase of state-owned land in Ratchadaphisek by his then-wife Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra at a price below market value, resulting in a two-year prison sentence. The court ruling’s 10-year statute of limitations expired in October 2018.
The former prime minister received a two-year prison sentence in the second instance for wrongdoing in connection with the two- and three-digit lottery issue.
In the third case, Thaksin received a three-year prison sentence for misusing his power by authorising 4 billion baht in loans to Myanmar through the Export-Import (Exim) Bank of Thailand. The money was used to buy equipment from a telecom company owned by his family.
The fourth case resulted in a five-year prison sentence for him, since the court found him guilty of using nominees to hold shares in Shin Corp, a telecommunications business, which is illegal for any political office holder. The statutes of limitations for the second, third, and fourth instances have not expired.
Meanwhile, an academic believes that Shinawatra’s return to Thailand in order to persuade senators to support Pheu Thai’s prime ministerial candidate in parliament on Tuesday afternoon.
Thaksin will come home on Tuesday, according to Thanaporn Sriyankul, director of the Institute of Politics and Policy Analysis, now that he is convinced Pheu Thai will form a government.
Thaksin, who was deposed in a military coup in 2006, is largely regarded as the de facto leader of Pheu Thai.
Mr Thanaporn stated that Thaksin will have to go to jail and spend time as a “political hostage” in order to reassure pro-military parties such as the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party and the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) that Pheu Thai is willing to work with them.
Pheu Thai and eleven other parties, including the UTN and PPRP, declared a potential ruling coalition with 314 House seats on Monday.
Mr Thanaporn went on to explain that the Supreme Court will rule on a case involving former protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who is accused of corruption in a project to build police stations and residential quarters while he was deputy prime minister more than a decade ago.
Mr Thanaporn stated that if the court deems Mr Suthep guilty, he will go to jail. And if a reprieve or amnesty is eventually provided to Thaksin, Mr Suthep may obtain it as well, he added, adding that this will bring an end to a decade-long political war between political rivals.
According to Yutthaporn Issarachai, a political science instructor at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, it is unclear whether Thaksin will arrive Tuesday morning because the outcome of the PM vote is likely in the afternoon.
The political scenario will remain uncertain until the election, and even though Pheu Thai may now form a coalition with 314 House seats, numerous senators continue to dispute the qualifications of its PM candidate, Srettha Thavisin, according to Mr Yutthaporn.
Thaksin will return from self-imposed exile on Tuesday, the same day parliament will convene to elect the country’s 30th prime minister.
Paetongtarn “Ung Ing” Shinawatra, his daughter and a Pheu Thai PM contender, said on social media that her father arrived at Don Mueang Airport on Tuesday at 9 a.m. aboard his private plane.
He will be presented his arrest warrants before being led to the Police Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, where he would be taken to the Supreme Court.
About Thaksin Shinawatra
Thaksin is a well-known Thai politician and businessman who was born in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on July 26, 1949. He is a divisive figure in Thai politics, well known for his populist policies as Prime Minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006. His political career has been defined by overwhelming support from rural and working-class citizens, as well as fierce resistance from urban elites, the military, and the judiciary.
Thaksin’s rise to power began in 1998, with the formation of the Thai Rak Thai (“Thais Love Thais”) party. He portrayed himself as a wealthy businessman who could bring economic growth and development to Thailand, leveraging his past as a telecoms entrepreneur. His measures, like as low-cost healthcare and village-level economic projects, earned him widespread support in rural areas.
During his presidency, Thaksin introduced a number of programmes aimed at reducing poverty, improving infrastructure, and boosting economic growth. However, his government was also accused of corruption, misuse of authority, and breaches of human rights. His anti-drug campaign in 2003, which resulted in thousands of extrajudicial murders, was one of his most contentious measures.
Thaksin’s approach to politics and governance, which emphasised his own charisma and leadership, polarized Thai society. His administration was criticised for concentrating power and marginalizing traditional elites such as the monarchy and the military. This sparked mounting opposition from many elements of society, culminating in huge protests and a military coup in 2006, while he was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.
Following the coup, Thaksin went into self-imposed exile in order to avoid criminal accusations for corruption and abuse of power. Despite his absence, his political party (renamed the Pheu Thai Party) managed to win elections and maintain a large degree of support from his rural and working-class supporters.
Thaksin’s legacy continues to divide Thais. His admirers see him as a protector of the underprivileged and a proponent of progressive measures, while his detractors accuse him of authoritarianism and alleged corruption. Thailand’s ongoing political conflict between populist movements and conservative elites is frequently characterised in terms of Thaksin’s impact on the country’s political environment.
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