Revoking Thaksin's passports 'will have no effect'

Revoking Thaksin's passports 'will have no effect'

THE series of sanctions against fugitive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra over the past week were prompted by the remarks he made to South Korean media that were deemed detrimental to national security and the country's reputation.

Predictably, the political temperature in the country rose with critics from all sides speaking up about the issue.

The sanctions began with an announcement being posted on May 26 on the Foreign Ministry's website saying that Thaksin's two Thai passports would be revoked. The reason given was that he had violated the ministry's regulations by making defamatory comments to foreign media. This was followed by moves to strip Thaksin of his police rank.

However, will these measures have any effect on Thaksin?

Most observers believe that revoking the passports would have no impact, as Thaksin can still travel around using other passports, such as the one granted by Montenegro.

Attasit Pankaew, a political science lecturer at Thammasat University, agreed, saying Thaksin can still travel on other passports.

The lecturer also said that he does not believe Thaksin will exploit this development by telling the world that he's being bullied. Instead, he believes that by giving that interview in Seoul, the former PM had gone on the offensive - waiting for the junta to attack. Hence, he can hardly say he's being bullied.

Nipit Intarasombat, an ex-Democrat MP, remarked that Thaksin got what he deserved. But he disagreed when asked if he thought the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) had taken this stance to please the yellow shirts or to boost its own popularity.

He said this reaction was in no way politically motivated, as any other government would have done the same if comments were made damaging the country's reputation.

Others also believe that NCPO had no hidden agenda and that its popularity had more to do with its ability to tackle the country's economic problems rather than dealing with Thaksin.

Red-shirt leader Weng Tojirakarn, however, said the entire thing about revoking passports and stripping Thaksin of his police rank was childish. However, he said, the red shirts would not take to the streets to protest against these moves, as people were bored of this never-ending political drama. He too pointed out that the government should focus more on solving the country's economic problems so people can still put food on the table instead of wasting time on Thaksin.

Udomdej Rattanasatien, a member of the Pheu Thai Party, also agreed that revoking Thaksin's passports would have little or no effect, though he expressed concern that this may anger the ex-PM's supporters and further obstruct the reconciliation process.

Another red-shirt leader said the NCPO was using this as an example to show the public that it will take any criticism seriously.

"We are at a tolerable point. This [hunt for Thaksin] will not bring any moves [from us]," the red-shirt leader, who asked not to be named, said. Asked whether this would obstruct reconciliation attempts, he said: "The [reconciliation] point was crossed on the day that [ex-PM] Yingluck [Shinawatra] was impeached [by the National Legislative Assembly]."

He added that the red shirts had adopted a "wait and see" attitude as they wanted to see if the NCPO can solve all the conflicts and problems in the country.

However, he believes that Thaksin had no intention of stirring trouble with his controversial comments, but was just "unaware" of the consequences.

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