Red shirts and democracy advocates should question Thaksin Shinawatra, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship and the Pheu Thai Party whether their priority is to bring Thaksin home or to help those red shirts who are in jail, said Somsak Jeamteerasakul, a Thammasat lecturer and political commentator, on his Facebook page.
In response to a recent interview with Thaksin’s aide Noppadon Pattama by Prachachat newspaper, Somsak attributed the inaction of the Pheu Thai government and the UDD in regards to the plight of many red shirts in jail to the fact that they placed a priority on bringing Thaksin back home.
In the interview, Noppadon said that the main obstacle to bringing Thaksin back was the distrust among the conservatives or the elite, by whom he meant commoners, not an institution.
‘They may see Thaksin or the Pheu Thai Party as a threat to the existence of the conservatives. But Thaksin has no policy to change the power structure of the country. So [we] want them to rest assured,’ he said.
Asked how to make such assurance, he said that, ‘[we have to] show that we are not a threat to the current status of their side. We are not doing anything which affects the main institution of the country. We do not show any overwhelming ambition to change the Defence Act, to interfere with the military reshuffle, or to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code …’
Asked whether Thaksin had already offered ‘an olive branch’, he said, ‘Yes. Now we can see that the atmosphere has improved. But nothing concrete has ever been offered clearly from the conservatives. Or perhaps the invisible hand may not need to offer anything, as long as it does not make an offer elsewhere [laughs],’ he said.
According to Somsak, what Noppadon said, together with what Thaksin said in his phone-in during a recent red-shirt gathering, clearly shows and epitomizes how Thaksin thinks of his ‘reconciliation strategy’; that is, what to do to make the conservatives or the elite ‘rest assured’.
The Pheu Thai government’s inaction regarding those issues, including Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the military reshuffle, etc., all results from this strategy, Somsak said.
Thaksin said twice in his phone-in that, ‘I am the one most affected’, in a bid to try to convince those who still hold grudges against the injustice they have received that they should follow his example of forgiveness, Somsak said.
Somsak said that this thinking was wrong as people who were currently most in trouble were those who were in jail and relatives of those who had been killed.
So far, many apologists have come out in defence of the Pheu Thai Party and the UDD’s inaction in regard to helping the rank-and-file red shirts in jail, claiming that the government is ‘powerless’, he said.
On the contrary, Noppadon’s interview and Thaksin’s phone-in are evidence which shows that this inaction is not because the government is ‘powerless’ or ‘cannot do that’, but results from the first priority set by the Pheu Thai Party and the UDD - to bring Thaksin back home, he said.
The other issues, therefore, have become only secondary to this priority, he said.