Thaksin 'ready to sacrifice family' but...

THAILAND - Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is ready to "sacrifice his family" by ending its political roles so the country can emerge from the ongoing political impasse and move forward, his close aide said yesterday.

However, Thaksin wants his political enemies to adhere to the rules and laws, according to Noppadon Pattama, Thaksin's legal adviser and spokesman.

Noppadon said he spoke with Thaksin yesterday morning.

"He is not the root cause of the country's problem. The problem was caused by the failure to adhere to the rules and the failure to respect the people's decision [at the ballot box].

"He is ready to sacrifice for the country and to have his family end their political career so that the country can move forward.

"But other people also must be ready to sacrifice. It's no use if he ends his roles but Suthep still sends the PDRC to interrupt the election," he said, referring to Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary-general of the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

The PDRC shrugged off Thaksin's latest offer.

"Our goal is to get Thaksin into jail. We don't care who will get out of politics or not," key PDRC leader Thaworn Senneam said.

Thaksin's offer came as the embattled government led by his younger sister Yingluck faces mounting political pressure.

The caretaker prime minister is being investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Commission for alleged dereliction of duty over the government's loss-making and corruption-plagued rice price-pledging scheme.

She is also accused of malfeasance in a case being heard by the Constitutional Court in connection with her transfer of National Security Council secretary general Thawil Pliensri.

Thaksin, who left the country shortly before the Supreme Court in 2008 sentenced him to two years in jail for abuse of power, has been in self-exile overseas.

He is believed to be pulling strings behind the scenes at the ruling Pheu Thai Party.

The former PM made remarks recently that were viewed by political observers as moves to "test the water".

Earlier this year, Thaksin reportedly said he would have Yingluck step down as prime minister - a report that was later dismissed by Yingluck.

During the recent Songkran holiday, Thaksin insisted that the Shinawatra family would remain in politics.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said yesterday that he believed Thaksin wanted to return to Thailand in order to spend the latter part of his life peacefully in his home country.

Surapong also said he recently met a foreign fortune-teller who told him Thailand would become peaceful again after this month.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said people in the Shinawatra family had the right to be in politics and nobody had the right to prohibit them.

"The Shinawatras have the right to be in or out of politics. But if you are in, you should comply with the law and are ready for scrutiny," Abhisit said.

He said that to ensure peace in this country, the law must be respected.

"That means Thaksin should accept the [2008] court ruling and come back to get the penalty," the Democrat leader said.

"He may seek royal pardon later. He has the right to do so."

In a comment, Abhisit, who is Yingluck's predecessor, said yesterday that when Thaksin wanted "justice to be served" in exchange for his family to end their political roles, he believed that Thaksin was referring to a pardon for himself.

"When he talks about this, things seem to boil down to the issue of amnesty for himself. This is the main problem," Abhisit said.

A government-backed bill for blanket amnesty to people involved in recent political conflicts led to widespread public opposition that prompted Yingluck to dissolve the House of Representatives in December. Critics and the Opposition alleged that the bill was mainly aimed at benefiting Thaksin.