“And now the end is here. And so I face the final curtain. My friend, I’ll say it clear. I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain. I’ve lived a life that is full. I traveled each and every highway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way…”
As Thaksin and his backup singers sang Frank Sinatra’s My Way in front of a crowd of 30,000 Red Shirts (Thaksin’s own estimate) celebrating the Songkran Festival in Cambodia, he seemed at ease about his prospect of returning home. “I can smell the air of my mother land. This year I’m confident it’s a good year. It’s an auspicious year as the Prince will turn 60 and the Queen will turn 80. There are a lot of indications that I’m going to be back with my fellow brothers and sisters,” proclaimed Thaksin.
Late in March 2012, Thai PBS program Tob Jode held a special roundtable on what Thailand would look like upon Thaksin’s return (คุยเรื่องทักษิณกลับบ้าน). The discussants were: 1) Sombat Boon-ngam-anong (Red Sunday); 2) Dr. Tul Sitthisomwong (Multi-colored Group); 3) Pravit Rojanapruk (The Nation); and 4) Prasong Lert-rattanawisut (Issara Institute).
Below are some excerpts from the round table.
Mass protests will occur when the moment is right, especially upon Thaksin’s return. Some people would do anything to fight Thaksin, while others would do anything for him. When Thaksin returns, both groups will come out to the streets.
If article 309 is done away with, Thaksin will return. Thaksin has to think much harder whether he would still be alive when he’s back home. He was nearly assassinated even when he was prime minister.
Thaksin’s problems are three fold. First, he has too many fans. Second, Thailand may get to a point where his party will continue to win election. Third, the old barami are losing their influence. All of this means Thaksin has many enemies. Thaksin is part of the problem and has to be brought back to solve it.
If Thaksin doesn’t return, there will be status quo in Thai society. It will remain as divided as it is, nothing will improve. We can’t seem to move beyond Thaksin. If Thaksin decides to lessen his own political role, the conflict will be over.
The forces opposing Thaksin are still strong. Mass mobilization would occur as soon as people realize Thaksin’s return is imminent. If Thaksin would be given amnesty, some 300,000 people will be out on the streets. Thaksin is destroying Thai society and deepening the divide. My hatred towards Thaksin is logical and reasonable. Thaksin exploits the differences within Thai society for his own political gains.
Should Thaksin not come back, things will be the same. It’s unclear how we can achieve reconciliation. The bigger question is how would the Yingluck government go on. Whether or not he returns, Thaksin’s crimes will remain.
Both camps will mobilize their forces to oppose/support Thaksin. Thai society has become so polarized; it’s divided between hatred and absolute devotion towards Thaksin. Thaksin has become a national obsession. The media is no exception to this. The middle ground has become a void. We can’t agree to disagree.
The Red Shirts can’t accept the hypocrisy in Thai society. Millions of Thaksin supports do not understand why there is no level playing field among all public officials, why Thaksin was solely targeted.
It might be a good thing for the Yingluck government if her brother does not return. At least it might buy time for people to cool off…become more mature. Our political system is in transition. How do we respond to the now awakened poorer, long neglected, section of society?
The only way Yingluck would let her brother return home would be via amnesty. But Thaksin is truly guilty for both the land deal and the Shin Corp sales.
Sources from Pheua Thai told me that if Thaksin returns, some inside the party would lose their interests. Right now they exploit their relationship with Thaksin (or his party) for their own benefits but once he’s back, he would reconsolidate his power and many will lose out.