BANGKOK: Fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra broke his long silence yesterday by hitting out at “tyranny under the shield of law and in the name of justice” in a Twitter post.
It was his first public reaction since his sister and ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra failed to show up for the verdict reading at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders last Friday in the negligence case stemming from her government’s corruption-plagued rice-pledging scheme.
Meanwhile, none of the three armed forces –Army, Air Force and Navy – has yet been able to establish which channel Yingluck used to escape from Thailand, supreme commander General Surapong Suwana-adth said Wednesday.
In response to speculation that military figures gave Yingluck help to flee, Surapong said that if any officers had been found to be involved in such a scheme, they would be prosecuted.
Thaksin yesterday quoted 18th-century French philosopher Charles de Montesquieu in his latest tweets both in English and Thai.
“Montesquieu once said, ‘There is no crueller tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice’,” his tweet said.
In response, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said Thaksin should be left alone to do whatever he wants.
“Let him be. What can a Twitter message do? If you want to believe him, be my guest.
Think about that,” Prayut said, pointing a finger at his head. Yingluck reportedly fled the country and sources said that she was reunited with Thaksin in Dubai before the day of her verdict, although authorities have not confirmed her whereabouts.
She has been accused of dereliction of duty and malfeasance for allegedly failing to put an end to the controversial rice-subsidy policy plagued with corruption.
Critics and her supporters, however, perceive the case as part of a political game in a long-standing power struggle.
Yingluck faced up to 10 years in prison and a lifetime ban from politics had the court convicted her. But she failed to appear, forcing the court to delay its ruling until late next month and issue a warrant for her arrest.
Thaksin’s tweet yesterday was his first after two years. In his last post in 2015, Thaksin responded to the deadly bombing attack at Ratchaprasong Intersection, extending sympathy to those affected and denouncing the act.
“That tweet after so long reflects Thaksin’s anger,” said Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a former Thai diplomat and an academic at Kyoto University.
“I suspect Yingluck and Thaksin will continue to find a political space in Thailand from overseas … they want to take revenge” on their enemies, he was quoted by AFP as saying.
Ousted by a military coup in 2006, Thaksin has kept a low profile while living in self-exile overseas for almost a decade.
He fled the country in 2008, a few months before the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders sentenced him in absentia to two years in jail for abuse of power.
Besides actions by the Pheu Thai Party, which many believe to be Thaksin’s proxy, the former PM rarely made any direct political moves. He only sends very occasional political messages through his personal social media accounts.
He uses Instagram and Facebook as well as Twitter. Meanwhile, Thai authorities have yet to receive any response from other countries regarding Yingluck’s suspected escape, according to Deputy Premier and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan.
“We still have no exact idea of where Yingluck is. But we are certain that her escape won’t affect public trust in the government,” Prawit said yesterday.
Thailand had contacted Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates via diplomatic channels to trace Yingluck’s possible whereabouts, Prayut said on Tuesday.
National police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda reiterated yesterday that there were still no responses from other countries about Yingluck and that the normal immigration channels did not hold records indicating that she had passed through the country’s borders.
Chakthip added that police were considering whether to summon 14 people close to Yingluck who, according to CCTV records, were in her company for lunch at a hotel last Wednesday, when the ex-PM was last seen publicly before her disappearance. Prayut yesterday refused to comment further about Yingluck’s escape.
He said that the country’s situation was now improving, with rising prices on the stock market.
“If the country is peaceful, without political problems and things go in line with the justice system, the situation will not be volatile. Everybody should help to bring about peace,” he said. – The Nation/Asia News Network