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The “circus” come to town - Thaksin’s address and Surayad’s counter-offer

Updated On: Jun 19, 2007

Just days after the Thai authorities froze all the Shinawatra family’s financial assets and the subsequent rumours about whether former prime minister Thaksin would return to defend his money, Thaksin has shown he will not take all the “bullying” lying down.

So he made a televised address which was pre-recorded in London denouncing the junta to his supporters last Friday (15 June) evening, Bloomberg noted.

According to the Bangkok Post, 10,000-15,000 people were gathered at Sanam Luang park in Bangkok to hear Thaksin’s speech and demonstrate against the junta. The Bangkok Post also reported Thaksin as vowing to “restore his dignity” as the authorities have used underhanded means to cripple him. He said, “If they want to deal with me, they should do it within the scope of law, instead of using elements that are not recognised by the law, just to get rid of me.” He added that “the freezing of his assets was a ploy to isolate the disbanded Thai Rak Thai party and send a signal that he was broke”. Thaksin also pleaded to the Thai people to let him restore Thailand’s democratic system.

Just the next day on Saturday, 16 June, PM Surayud Chulanont said Thaksin was welcome to return to Thailand for talks with the government. The AP reported Surayud saying, “I am ready to negotiate… An important issue which Thaksin wants to negotiate will be about his assets and family.”

However, Thaksin’s supporters are unappeased at this “halfway” gesture.  The next day, leaders of the “self-styled Democratic Alliance Against Dictators (DAAD) submitted their request… to Council for National Security (CNS) chairman Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin demanding that the CNS be dissolved”.  The Thai News Agency said that Veera Musikapong, former executive of the now dissolved Thai Rak Thai party, announced that their demands of the resignation of the CNS and the holding of immediate elections “were similar to what his group has been telling participants in the rally”.

Of course, the CNS is not giving any notice to this audacious demand. The Nation reported CNS spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd as saying, “You do not need to expel us because we will definitely leave as promised when our mission is over.”

Meanwhile, the Thais are increasingly tired of the political circus. The Bangkok Post noted that the latest Abac poll findings showed that just over half of the 1661Thais surveyed did not want “Thaksin to return to Thailand, at least for the time being; while about 31.5% suggested Thaksin should remain in self-imposed exile overseas for one to five years and should not return to Thailand until normalcy returns. Another 23.7% thought he should never come back”.

Whatever it is, the Democrat party is seizing its chance to take power again. The Nation noted that Democrat party spokesman Ong-art Klampaiboon had “criticised the anti-coup organisations and said their ulterior motive was to reap interest for their own groups, not for the country, [calling] on them to stop their political movement, claiming they had damaged the political and business climate”. Also, Democrat party deputy secretary-general Korn Chati-kavanij alleged that the “Bt20 billion ‘missing’ from the Shinawatra family's bank accounts had been taken out of the country”. (18 June 2007)

Sources:

Protesters demand CNS quit, restore1997 constitution (TNS, 18 June 2007)

Billions spirited out, Korn alleges(Nation, 18 June 2007)Generals reject call for debate (Nation, 18 June 2007)Purachai is Bangkok's favourite for PM(Bangkok Post, 17 June 2007)

Selective amnesty mulled (Bangkok Post, 17 June 2007)

Thaksin, stay away — poll (Bangkok Post, 16 June 2007)

Thaksin slams junta over 'victimisation'(Nation, 16 June 2007)

Surayud:I'll talk to Thaksin any time (Nation, 16 June 2007)Thaksin vows to fight on (Bangkok Post, 16 June 2007)

Thai Government Offers To Negotiate With Thaksin Over Frozen Assets (AP, 16 June 2007)

Thaksin Speaks to Bangkok Protesters, Claims Unfair Treatment (Bloomberg, 15 June 2007)

From exile, Thaksin attacks Thailand's coup leaders (Reuters, 15 June 2007)