Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thaksin Gauges International, Domestic Resentment

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has kept a low profile after the Phuea Thai Party won the general election to avoid creating any barrier on Yinglak Shinawatra's path toward the prime minister post and the formation of the Phuea Thai-led coalition government. Nevertheless, Thaksin could not avoid causing troubles to his sister and her government.
Lately, Ms Yinglak and the government, particularly Foreign Minister Suraphong Towichakchaikun who is facing questions from the public about his qualification and the reasons he was nominated to this position, have to handle a hot potato right after assuming their offices. It is related to Thaksin's request to travel to Japan. The Japanese Government has allowed Thaksin to enter Japan and also announced that the Thai government has asked the Japanese Government to give permission to Thaksin's entry.
Thai Government's Stance
Recently, Yinglak said that the Japanese Government has asked Suraphong about the Thai Government's stance on Thaksin's entry into Japan. She said Suraphong has informed the Japanese Government that the Thai Government had no policy to prohibit his entry. The Japanese Government could freely decide to or not to allow Thaksin's entry.
It was unveiled later that Thaksin has requested for a visa to enter Japan after receiving an invitation from a private company there. The Japanese Government was reluctant to intervene. It does not want to spoil its ties with the Yinglak administration as well. They then consulted the Thai Foreign Ministry. Suraphong consequently replied that it had no policy to prohibit Thaksin from entering Japan. Eventually, the Japanese Government has granted Thaksin the permission to enter Japan.
Nevertheless, Yinglak government was consequently questioned by the public why the government did not ask the Japanese Government to bar Thaksin, who is a fugitive, from entering its country. Instead, it has given a green light to the Japanese government to allow his entry. People also questioned why the Thai Government did not ask its Japanese counterpart to extradite Thaksin back to Thailand.
This case is, therefore, a hot potato for the Yinglak government from its first day in office. We believe that Thaksin will continue to trouble the Yinglak government as long as Thaksin is still a fugitive.
Consequences of Japan’s Visit
Has Thaksin anticipated that his entry into Japan would cause any trouble to his sister's government? Certainly, he must have foreseen that it would become an issue. However, Thaksin still traveled to Japan. He might want to test certain political consequences of his visit.
First, he might want to find out how the international community would respond to the fact that he has led the Phuea Thai Party to win the recent general election and to successfully push for the appointment of his sister as the prime minister on behalf of him.
He opted to try the stance of Japan, which is a powerful country first. It would certainly be the precedence for other countries. Thaksin would then be able to use Japan's decision to pave the way for his convenient entries into other countries.
Certainly, from now on, Thaksin would travel to more important destinations around the world to show the world community that he has already got back his liberty to travel around, as well as implying that he is the one with tru e influence over the Thai government.
Second, Thaksin wanted certain groups in the Thai public to protest against his trips to build up political pressure against his opponents. He is forcing them to make decision whether they wanted him to remain a fugitive after he has already sent out reconciliatory signs. He did not hand any cabinet seat to any red-shirt leader. He has not selected any Class 10 alumna at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School to be the defense minister.
He should receive some reconciliatory signs in return, particularly the signs related to legal cases that have been barriers of his normal living.
At the same time, Thaksin needs to assess the level of resentment against him in Thailand.
He might be satisfied with the outcome. Nobody paid attention to his visit to Japan apart from the opposition Democrat Party that has been adamant to bring down the Yinglak administration and Foreign Minister Suraphong, and the media that have done their job of reporting the issue.
Hostile Moves Against Thaksin
It seems several parties that were once Thaksin's opponents have already lower their guards. They might have come up with such reaction due to reconciliatory stance of Thaksin himself or other reasons.
At present, the Democrat Party is the only one that has not stopped its hostile moves against Thaksin and left no room for the development of reconciliatory atmosphere.
In fact, at this moment, the Democrat Party should ignore some issue and take a wait and see position, instead of trying to trigger conflicting sentiment for political purposes.
Has the Democrat Party's defeat in the general election lent any lesson to the party at all? Has it got any idea why the party has lost? Isn't it because the party has concentrated on its fight in political games and political issues that the public has been tired of?

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