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Exiled former PM Thaksin returns to Thailand
Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra Image: Reuters/ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA
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Thailand to indict influential former PM Thaksin over royal insult

15 Comments
By Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat

Thailand's attorney-general will indict former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra for allegedly insulting the monarchy, an official said on Wednesday, in a setback to a political heavyweight whose loyalists are currently in government.

The complaint, lodged by the royalist military that ousted the government of his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, had stemmed from an interview the influential tycoon gave to foreign media in 2015.

"The attorney-general has decided to indict Thaksin on all charges," spokesperson Prayuth Bejraguna told reporters, adding that the former premier will need to appear before court on June 18.

Other charges against the former premier include breaching a computer crime law.Thaksin's lawyer Winyat Chartmontri told Reuters that his client could not appear at Wednesday's hearing due to a COVID-19 infection.

Thaksin, 74, has repeatedly pledged his loyalty to the crown, criticism of which is forbidden under Thailand's lese-majeste law, which is one of the world's strictest of its kind.

The billionaire, who was convicted of abuse of power and conflicts of interest, was released on parole in February after six months in detention.

He made a dramatic return in 2023 from 15 years of self-imposed exile, during which he remained a central figure throughout repeated bouts of political upheaval.

Thaksin would be the highest-profile case among more than 270 prosecutions in recent years under the lese-majeste law, which carries a maximum jail term of 15 years for each perceived insult of the royal family.

The popular opposition Move Forward Party, the biggest in parliament, has found itself in hot water over its campaign to amend the law, with the Constitutional Court due to decide whether to dissolve the party, which would see bans for its leadership.

Thaksin, the founder of the populist juggernaut Pheu Thai, has seen his family's parties win all but one election since 2001, with three Shinawatra governments toppled by coups or court rulings.

His return and relatively short time in detention fueled speculation he had struck a deal with his bitter rivals in the conservative establishment and military which he has long blamed for trying to stifle pro-Thaksin governments. His allies have denied any such deal.

Pheu Thai leads the current government, with Thaksin's business ally Srettha Thavisin the prime minister and daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra the party chief.

Commentators are anticipating Thaksin will seek to wield significant political influence from behind the scenes, raising the possibility of another confrontation with his powerful rivals in the establishment. He insists he has retired from politics.

© Thomson Reuters 2024.

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

15 Comments
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Would be interesting to know what he said.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

insulting the monarchy

so insecure and middle age thinking

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The new Thai king has few fans in the LOS according to the Thais that I have met recently.

The lese-majeste are an anachronism and often used by the Thai establishment to rid itself of foes.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Pay respect to...this?

https://nypost.com/2016/10/13/thailands-new-king-is-a-kooky-crop-top-wearing-playboy/

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Would be interesting to know what he said.

It doesn't really matter. Anybody can accuse anyone of insulting the monarch - even insulting the monarch's dog is a crime. Like the Salem witch trials, it's a useful way to get people you don't like arrested. No wonder Thailand is only second behind the US in the proportion of population in prison.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Would be interesting to know what he said.

He said, "Your majesty is like a big jam doughnut with cream on the top."

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Such a weird flex from the Thai government in the year 2024 especially given the current king.

Thaksin would be the highest-profile case among more than 270 prosecutions in recent years under the lese-majeste law, which carries a maximum jail term of 15 years for each perceived insult of the royal family.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The military is doing all they can and what ever they can to keep any civil leadership from taking the office of the PM, this is just another attempt but it will backfire again.

Mr. Thaksin has a lot of supporters that will put him back in the PM office the first chance they get.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Ah....The land of fake smiles, rip offs and sex tourists. I'll continue to spend my holiday money somewhere else.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

finally-rich...

Pay respect to...this?

There are much worse photos than that. There are some from Germany, where he prefers to live, that are odd to say the least.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Dang. And that's the "democratic" country Japan and USA are supporting?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

he should be in jail regardless for his acts while in power. He's greedy for $&power which is why his sister was in power and now grooming his kids to be also in power which in itself insult Thais ability to lead country because in his objective it is only reserved for Thaksin's. How he's been treated since his return is corrupted act by his cronies.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

grundMay 29  02:21 pm JST

Would be interesting to know what he said.

Who cares what he said in so far as it wasn't libelous. The idea that one group of people, the royal family, should be protected from comments they don't like simply by merit of having been born into this family, is grossly ridiculous and shameful on Thailand's part.

tom totoMay 29  11:37 pm JST

he should be in jail regardless for his acts while in power.

If a court can fairly prove him guilty of illegal acts, then, yes.

He's greedy for {{content}}power which is why his sister was in power and now grooming his kids to be also in power which in itself insult Thais ability to lead country because in his objective it is only reserved for Thaksin's.

It may be insulting but it's not illegal. Plenty of people "groom" their children to take over family businesses or to follow in their footsteps. If the Thai people vote for them, then that's on the Thai people. They can't really claim to be a democratic loving country as long as long as Lèse-majesté is part of the criminal code.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

GarthgoyleMay 29 08:47 pm JST

Dang. And that's the "democratic" country Japan and USA are supporting?

If they US and Japan cut off every human rights violator in SE Asia, there would be no relations left with the region.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

kurisupisuMay 29  03:20 pm JST

The new Thai king has few fans in the LOS according to the Thais that I have met recently.

The lese-majeste are an anachronism and often used by the Thai establishment to rid itself of foes.

So who really is in power in Thailand? And didn't Thaskin make his 'insult' outside of Thailand? He should've never returned there, that 'government' is just using this bogus crap as an excuse. It's a sham and a crime in itself.

Remember the comic strip 'Wizard of Id' from the 70s, 80s? I'll just say it now and let's see what the 'King Tut the Butt' of Thailand has to say about this:

'The King is a FINK'. Now smoke that, you royal poobah.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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