Thailand's Polarizing Ex-Leader Thaksin Shinawatra Makes Controversial Return After 15 Years in Exile - The Top Society

Thailand’s Polarizing Ex-Leader Thaksin Shinawatra Makes Controversial Return After 15 Years in Exile


Upon his return to the kingdom after 15 years in exile, Thailand’s polarizing former leader, Thaksin Shinawatra, was imprisoned on Tuesday. This occurred just hours before the parliament’s scheduled vote to appoint his party’s nominee as the new prime minister.


Arriving in a private jet at Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport at 9 am (0200 GMT), he was met with the lively presence of numerous “Red Shirt” supporters who enthusiastically waved banners and sang songs.


Along the streets, additional Red Shirt supporters were present as he was transported to the Supreme Court. Numerous individuals had journeyed overnight from his party’s stronghold in northeastern Thailand to witness this significant occasion.

However, Mr. Thaksin was unable to personally greet them. Accompanied by his two daughters and son, he briefly stepped out of the airport terminal and offered his respects to a portrait of the king and queen.


At the court, he received an eight-year sentence for three convictions that had been issued in his absence. These convictions were related to his former Shin Corp. company, a bank loan, and a lottery case.


His return coincided with the day parliament was set to appoint business magnate Srettha Thavisin as the new prime minister, leading a coalition primarily led by the Pheu Thai party, which is the latest iteration of Thaksin’s political movement.


For quite some time, Thailand’s highly accomplished elected leader has instilled fear among conservative royalists, prompting their support for military coups and controversial legal proceedings aimed at diminishing his influence.


Thaksin, 74, was found guilty in four cases that were tried in his absence, with one case being beyond the statute of limitations.


Despite the court’s decision, there remains uncertainty regarding the duration of Thaksin’s incarceration.


His arrival at this moment, coinciding with his party’s assumption of power, has prompted numerous speculations that a behind-the-scenes arrangement might have been reached to grant him some leniency.


Later today, Thaksin’s Pheu Thai party is expected to become part of a coalition government, marking a complex process that has brought Thailand back to where it began in just three months.


Initially, there were high hopes for a fresh beginning under the leadership of the progressive Move Forward party, which secured the most seats in the May election.


While Move Forward initially partnered with Pheu Thai, it’s now evident that the coalition will encompass almost all parties except the reform-oriented ones. This includes two parties led by former coup leaders – a surprising alliance with Pheu Thai’s historical adversaries, despite earlier vows against such a collaboration.


Pheu Thai asserts that these two developments are unrelated, although few are inclined to believe this claim.


In an Instagram post, his daughter Paetongtarn shared a picture taken in the airport’s VIP lounge, featuring Thaksin alongside his three children and seven grandchildren with the caption;


“welcome back to Thailand daddy. My father has now arrived in Thailand safely and has entered the legal process.”


Thaksin and family as posted by his daughter on Instagram


Thaksin’s day commenced by boarding a private jet in Singapore, but it will conclude with him confined to a prison cell in Bangkok. This marks yet another striking turn in a career characterized by sharp twists, encompassing two election triumphs, a downfall through a coup, legal accusations, and extensive periods of self-imposed exile.


Thaksin expressed his readiness to confront justice in order to return home and spend time with his grandchildren. Despite this, he has consistently asserted that the criminal charges brought against him are rooted in political motivations.


“I would like to request permission to return to live on Thai soil and share the air with my fellow Thai brothers and sisters,” he posted Monday on Twitter, which has been rebranded as X.


Despite his extended period away from the nation, Thaksin continues to hold the distinction of being the most impactful, albeit contentious, modern politician in Thailand.


Endearing himself to the rural underprivileged through measures like affordable healthcare and minimum wage adjustments, Thaksin is simultaneously despised by the pro-military and royalist upper echelons. These factions consider his governance as corrupt, authoritarian, and a hazard to Thailand’s societal structure.


Thaksin waving to his supporters


Thaksin-affiliated parties have maintained dominance in elections since 2001, until the recent emergence of the progressive Move Forward Party (MFP), which secured the largest number of seats this year.

Share this Article
Leave a comment