Speculative reports being pushed by anonymous sources linked to Pheu Thai are briefing the media that Thaksin is at the centre of a ‘super deal’ brokered in Hong Kong while this was also confirmed by anti-corruption campaigner Chuwit Kamolvisit on Thursday. On Friday, new and conflicting reports suggested that Mr Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit had agreed to get the Move Forward Party to reverse its position on Article 112 in return for the Bhumjaithai Party joining a government coalition.
There are growing concerns that Thai politics may be about to take a new turn in the coming week with reports that a ‘super deal’ is being brokered linking the return of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra to Thailand with the participation of the Pheu Thai Party in a new coalition arrangement with conservative elements in a government to be formed before August 15th. Thailand’s anti-corruption activist Chuwit Kamolvisit, on Thursday, explained to reporters at the Davis Hotel in Bangkok what he thinks is being orchestrated while veteran political activist, academic and the current acting leader of the Red Shirts or the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) Ms Thida Thavornset says she worried that Mr Thaksin is being duped and could already be a political hostage.
A senior legal professor and expert at Chiang Mai University came out on Friday to question the reported activities of the former leader of the Future Forward Party, who has been linked with negotiations in the national media on Friday regarding a political ‘super deal’ that reportedly was negotiated on Tuesday between the Progressive Movement and Mr Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister of Thailand with reports of high level meetings taking place in Hong Kong.
Mr Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, now the leader of the Progressive Movement, is reported to have flown to Hong Kong from Bangkok on Monday.
Mr Thaksin is currently rumoured to be returning to the kingdom on August 10th with the Corrections Department and the Immigration Bureau reported to be readying for his arrest at Don Mueang Airport and subsequent detention.
Chiang Mai professor questions the propriety and ethics of alleged talks in Hong Kong saying that forming a government should be transparent
On Friday, Professor Somchai Preechasilpakul of Chiang Mai University’s Legal Research and Development Faculty of Law warned that voters in the May 14th General Election expected straightforward politics in its aftermath.
He questioned whether the current evasiveness and behind-the-scenes manoeuvres linked with the so-called ‘super deal’ undermined confidence in the political system.
He suggested that it did, arguing that people wanted to see the formation of the next government conducted transparently and openly.
Professor Somchai said that, as a normal citizen and voter, he expected to see politics conducted in a straightforward manner and that currently, the Thai public was looking closely to see why Mr Pita Limjaroenrat was not elected as prime minister having formed an eight-party coalition representing the vast majority of the Thai public who voted in the May poll.
He suggested that it was very important that, if efforts to elect Mr Pita as prime minister have broken down, it was seen to be at the hands of conservative elements in the political arena. He noted that the current speculation attempts to obfuscate political developments in a way which undermines democratic principles.
Chuwit Kamolvisit gave an in-depth briefing to reporters at the Davis Hotel in Bangkok on Thursday. He said he was 80% sure Thaksin would return
His comments come as speculation rose on Thursday as political activist and truth-teller in old age, Mr Chuwit Kamolvisit, formerly a massage parlour boss in hedonistic 80s and 90s Bangkok and later a colourful local politician, also added to the rumour mill with speculation that secret political negotiations were going on and that these negotiations were linked to Mr Thaksin’s sincerely held wish to return to Thailand to be with his family and grandchildren.
The former PM has been exiled from the country in the face of criminal prosecutions and convictions for alleged corruption while he held office from 2001 to 2006.
His supporters say the criminal charges and proceedings were politically motivated while Mr Thaksin repeatedly during the General Election campaign dismissed any suggested links between his planned return to Thailand and the politics of forming the next government saying that he planned to return to the country under the outgoing government of General Prayut Chan ocha which will still be the case.
Redshirt leader fears that Mr Thaksin may be duped by conservative-led powers in Thailand and could already be a political hostage doing their bidding
On Friday also, Ms Thida Thavornset, the acting President of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) questioned whether it was the case that Mr Thaksin was misled by conservative elements in Thailand who currently still control the government, into linking his return to the kingdom to some perceived deal which would allow for the perception to develop that the Pheu Thai Party was orchestrating a new dawn or reconciliation in Thai politics when in fact, she warned, it could lead to Mr Thaksin becoming a hostage of conservative forces.
It could also see the loyal support base of the Pheu Thai Party deserting it for what will be perceived as a betrayal of its principles and pre-election pledges.
Ms Thida made it clear that any attempt by Pheu Thai to break ranks with their Move Forward Party coalition partner and form a government with parties of the conservative establishment would see it crossing a line it could not come back from.
Mr Thaksin faces 10 years behind bars on his return to Thailand and reports from government circles this week have been suggesting that while he will be treated as a normal prisoner, there were special considerations in his case, with Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, the acting Minister of Justice, appearing to go out of his way to suggest that authorities would be willing to make sure that Mr Thaksin was treated in accordance with his seniority while a top official accepted that he was an important personage in Thai society and would need to be segregated and allowed additional visiting privileges.
Chuwit did not think Thaksin will be jailed for long if he arrives on August 10th next and is arrested
On Thursday, Mr Chuwit agreed with this assessment. He suggested that the prison system even with privileges and special considerations, was no place for the ex-prime minister who may be targeted by other prison inmates.
He said it represented a risk to the current government.
In his press briefing on Thursday at the Davis Hotel in Bangkok, Mr Chuwit predicted that the Bhumjaithai Party will ultimately end up as the party forming the next government with any proposed Pheu Thai Party nominee meeting with rejection from the Senate.
Mr Chuwit suggested that a coalition put together by the Pheu Thai Party, the Palang Pracharat Party and Bhumjaithai Party would have 279 votes in the House of Representatives and the support of the Senate.
On this basis, it would be able to elect a Prime Minister.
New coalition with three key parties at its core, the Pheu Thai, Bhumjaithai and Palang Pracharat parties to benefit Bhumjaithai in the long term
‘Formula 279 is a formula for success but it will be a formula to lend a helping hand to the Bhumjaithai Party in moving ahead of the Pheu Thai Party because both parties are bound together by the masses. Move Forward will be clearly in opposition,’ he said at one point, explaining that politically this deal or accommodation will benefit the Bhumjaithai Party at the loss of the Pheu Thai Party which will have burned its bridges with its loyal support base or as Ms Thida put it on Friday, ‘anti coup’ voters who are determined to see Thailand move towards real democracy.
Ms Thida also noted that while Mr Thaksin had made a positive contribution to Thailand, he would have considered the kingdom as already a full democracy while the minds of modern voters in Thailand today have advanced since twenty years ago towards an expectation of unfettered democracy trusted by the people.
Mr Chuwit acknowledged that his predicted outcome of the ‘super deal’ would be contrary to the wishes of the population and the voting trend in the May 14th General Election.
Thaksin, as he is 74 years old, can apply for a Royal Pardon when he lands in prison but must wait a further two years if it is subsequently turned down
Mr Thaksin is now 74 years of age and Mr Chuwit suggested that, according to the law, anyone over 70 years-old can apply for a Royal Pardon.
This was confirmed also on Thursday by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who qualified it by saying that once an application was made, it could not be made for a further two years.
Mr Chuwit told reporters, on Thursday evening, that this concession did not apply to those within the military or police ranks who often had to give up their rank before they could file for a royal pardon.
He told reporters that he thought that Thailand would likely have a new government in place before August 15th and said it was likely the new Prime Minister would be Mr Srettha Thavisin who, he joked, is known within the real estate business as ‘Confucius’.
‘Superdeal’ links Thaksin’s return and the next government. The news reports have been dismissed by the Secretary-general of the Move Forward Party
Addressing the question of whether Mr Thaksin will, in fact, return to Thailand on Thursday, August 10th, he said the possibility of this is 80% and was linked to the ‘super deal’ being forged.
He also told reporters that he believed that Mr Thaksin was currently located in Cambodia despite the meetings that took place earlier this week in Hong Kong and that he is waiting until August 10th to make his return.
On Wednesday, with reports about the ‘super deal’ circulating in Bangkok and being assiduously promoted by enthusiastic anonymous sources briefing the national media, Mr Chaitawat Tulathon, the Secretary General of the Move Forward Party, dismissed them and confirmed that no delegation from his party had flown to Hong Kong to meet Thaksin to discuss preconditions for the formation of a new government.
It has been made clear by these sources planting reports in the media that these discussions focused on excluding Move Forward from the next government. They suggested that Move Forward along with the Democrat Party and the United Thai Nation (Ruam Thai Sang Chart) Party, would form the new opposition in parliament.
Reports indicated that Mr Thanathorn, the former Future Forward Party leader and now leader of the progressive movement, flew to Hong Kong on Monday, aboard flight Cx700 on Monday and returned on Tuesday evening aboard flight HX773.
Country awaits a decision of the Constitutional Court before voting for the next Prime Minister can again be scheduled after being suspended this week
Meanwhile, the country awaits the decision of the Constitutional Court on the case referred to it by the Ombudsman earlier this week as to the legality of the vote in parliament on July 19th based on a legal technicality as to whether it was primarily governed by parliamentary procedures under Rule 41 or the relevant sections of the 2017 Constitution with further votes suspended until the court has ruled decisively.
The earliest this may come will be next week if the court declines to take up the petition or dismisses it out of hand.
Otherwise, it may drag on further if the court takes time to consider it.
Pheu Thai Party schedules a meeting next week as the party continues to seek the Move Forward Party’s removal from the pact on a voluntary basis
If the court rules in favour of the petition, the Move Forward Party is insisting on having Mr Pita Limjaroenrat’s nomination proposed by the eight-party coalition to parliament while others within the pact are calling for the eight parties to hold a united position until May 2024 when the senate’s voting power in the election of a prime minister expires.
Next week, the Pheu Thai Party plans to hold a meeting of the eight-party bloc and is hinting, again through briefing sources, that the Move Forward Party should withdraw voluntarily from it.
However, sources with the more radical party are predicting it to hold tight and advocate the unity of the bloc in the face of conservative demands and adherence to the democratic principle.
This meeting, originally scheduled for last week, was postponed as events unfolded and the second-placed party in the May 14th poll met other parties linked with the outgoing government.
It is now feared that the Pheu Thai Party may be politically compromised or conflicted by the fate of Mr Thaksin Shinawatra, who is understood to be its de facto leader and his imminent planned return to Thailand, in opposition to the country’s democratic future.
Alternative reports of Hong Kong ‘Super deal’
Alternative reports being reported on Friday indicated that the involvement of Mr Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit in the Hong Kong talks was concerned with getting the Move Forward Party to withdraw its controversial Article 112 reform proposals in return for the entry of the Bhumjaithai Party with its 71 MPs into a coalition arrangement.
However, these reports suggest that Mr Thaksin would be facing a long jail sentence if he lands back in Thailand and is imprisoned.
Sources also suggest that Mr Thaksin may have a problem with his continued exile outside Thailand in Dubai.