Thaksin says he wants Srettha to be PM for ‘as long as possible’

SATURDAY, MAY 25, 2024

Former prime minister thinks Srettha can stay in power despite Constitutional Court case against him

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Saturday that he wanted Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin to remain in office for “as long as possible”.

Thaksin said that he did not think the ongoing Constitutional Court case against Srettha, which was brought by a group of 40 outgoing senators, would lead to the prime minister’s ouster.

“I don’t think [the case] will lead to Srettha’s collapse. It may be able to cause confusion and put the country at a brief standstill. But there’s no problem if [Srettha] can defend himself,” Thaksin said in a rare interview with the Thai media.

Srettha, who became the current head of government last August, is from the Pheu Thai Party, whose leader is Thaksin’s youngest daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra. Both Srettha and Paetongtarn are prime-ministerial candidates of the ruling party.

Srettha is being tried by the Constitutional Court in a case in which he is accused of violating the charter for appointing Pichit Chuenban as minister of the Prime Minister’s Office despite his alleged lack of qualifications as per the Constitution.

In their petition, a group of 40 senators who took the case to court through the Senate president pointed to a 2008 Supreme Court order that sentenced Pichit to six months in prison for contempt of court after he was found to have attempted to bribe court officials with 2 million baht. At that time, he was representing Thaksin in a conflict-of-interest case.

Srettha risks losing his prime minister’s seat if the court finds him guilty of violating the Constitution.

Thaksin was reminded on Saturday that his daughter Paetongtarn is also a PM candidate. He laughed and said: “I want the prime minister to stay in office as long as possible. He is doing a good job, and he needs more time.”


Thaksin, who is widely regarded as Pheu Thai’s patriarch and de facto leader, said on Saturday that moves by partisan senators are “a common thing” in Thai politics.

When asked if he was the intended target, the ex-PM replied: “I don’t deserve to be a target any more. I am old already. Let’s co-exist peacefully and focus on our own business.”

He also dismissed speculation of his possibly taking revenge against the 40 senators who brought the case against Srettha to court.

“Do I have any right to do so? I am just an old man today. I offer advice for younger people to help the country progress further. I have no power at all.”

Thaksin was speaking during his visit to Nakhon Ratchasima province on Saturday to attend the funeral of his former chauffeur, Wichai Changlek.

Accompanied by his children Paetongtarn and Pantongtae, the ex-PM arrived at the northeastern province’s airport before noon.

He was greeted by a large group of supporters, some of whom shouted, “We love Thaksin.” Many Pheu Thai MPs and other politicians and Thaksin’s political allies in the Northeast were among those waiting at the airport to welcome him.

Thaksin says he wants Srettha to be PM for ‘as long as possible’

About 300 police officers, both plainclothes and uniformed, were dispatched to the province’s landmark Thao Suranaree monument to keep law and order while Thaksin was paying homage to the local heroine. There were both supporters and detractors of Thaksin during his visit.

After 15 years living in self-imposed exile overseas, Thaksin returned to Thailand last August 22, the same day Srettha was elected by a joint meeting of MPs and senators to become Thailand’s 30th prime minister in a suspected “deal” between the conservatives and the ex-leader.

After his return, Thaksin, 74, got his eight-year imprisonment term stemming from corruption cases reduced to only one year, thanks to a royal pardon. However, he spent the first six months of his prison time at the Police General Hospital before being released on parole in February because of his age and unidentified illnesses.