Pheu Thai 'not laying safe path' for Thaksin's return
Pheu Thai will not seek a pardon for fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra so he can safely return to Thailand, two party members announced on Saturday.
The comment came after Thaksin said in an interview in Tokyo on Friday that he was ready to serve his prison term, provided he is allowed to spend the rest of his time with his family.
In an interview with Kyodo News, Thaksin had said he was biding his time before returning home this year after spending years living in self-exile overseas.
After being ousted in a military coup in 2006 and barred from politics, Thaksin fled the country in 2008 to avoid jail.
“I’ve served 16 years already in the big jail because they prevent me from staying with my family,” Thaksin said. “I’ve suffered enough. If I were to suffer again in the smaller jail, it’s okay.”
Pheu Thai leader Chonlanan Srikaew, meanwhile, said “Thaksin made this remark because he wants to be close to his family”, adding that the party has nothing to do with it.
He said it would not be unusual if other parties used this issue to attack Pheu Thai to win votes, adding that there are many people who dislike Thaksin.
It’s up to people as “Thaksin is the spiritual leader of those who love Pheu Thai”, he said.
He also pointed out that Thaksin was the founder of Pheu Thai’s predecessor Thai Rak Thai Party and is certainly not a member of Pheu Thai.
“The party is watching to see if this issue will affect the party or not,” he said, adding that there was no need to seek a pardon for the former premier.
Meanwhile, Srettha Thavisin said he sympathised with Thaksin for having to live away from his family for so long. Srettha is chief adviser to Thaksin’s youngest daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra, who leads the “Pheu Thai Family” and is the party’s lead PM candidate.
Srettha said he respected Thaksin’s decision to comply with Thai laws, adding that the former PM’s remark will not affect Pheu Thai’s objective to win the May 14 election by a landslide.
“Thaksin has confidence in Thailand’s legal system, while Pheu Thai has good policies and good candidates,” he said. “I believe Thaksin will not want to trigger conflicts among people.”
Srettha added that more election campaigns publicising the party’s policies will be launched soon and that time will be spent listening to people’s problems.
Separately, academics and senators have told the local press that Thaksin is “not serious” about returning to serve time in prison. They believe his remark was only meant to woo support for Pheu Thai Party.