11 July 2024

Thaksin Shinawatra’s latest outburst against the Thai military government may come back to haunt him big time. His statements, which sought to uplift Pheu Thai politicians, could be deemed to have violated election laws, which prescribe “dissolution” as the ultimate punishment for political parties influenced by outsiders.

While his war cry, issued last week, can give Pheu Thai politicians considerable assurance about financial support, it can also provide legal authorities with another piece of evidence that the party is under the control or influences of the man in Dubai. Considering every key player’s stake in the upcoming election, Thaksin’s vow to “fight to the death” can be extremely unwise.

Everyone knows Thaksin’s influential connections with Pheu Thai, but tangible evidence is required for the dissolution penalty to be invoked under the new election laws. Reports about Thaksin’s meetings with the party’s members are piling up, and could potentially be used to establish his “influences” over the party.

Earlier, despite living in exile and having been convicted by Thai courts, Thaksin could name a party leader, call a press conference in Dubai or organise birthday party attended by all Pheu Thai members without jeopardising Pheu Thai.  Such freedom is now behind him due to the new election laws.

But Thaksin’s end game means he has to be defiant. At least one meeting with Pheu Thai members in Singapore was highly publicized by the mainstream media.  Adding to that, recent reports said Thaksin wanted the Shinawatras to still control Pheu Thai because he did not trust anyone else, including well-known Sudarat Keyuraphan who has been tipped as a candidate for party leader.

When those meetings, reports, some of which were backed up by video clips, and Thaksin’s well-documented outbursts are added up, it doesn’t bode well for Pheu Thai legally.

Critics said the new election laws were written with Thaksin and Pheu Thai in mind. This, however, does not mean Thaksin and the party should not do their best to avoid falling into the “trap.”

Military-backed Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has refrained from discussing his political future, despite strong speculation about a political movement, which included a party, being purportedly set up to prolong his status after the election. Again, speculation is one thing, and concrete evidence that can be used in court is another.

Suthep Thaugsuban, who led a massive street campaign against the government of Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, has also been very careful about the new election laws. Suthep, who vowed during the anti-Yingluck campaign to stay away from politics later, courted heavy criticism lately by announcing his membership with a new political party.

Last week, news emerged that an “alternative party” has been set up. It’s called the “Pheu Dham” Party and tipped as a possible reincarnation of Pheu Thai if the dissolution punishment is invoked.

This shows Thaksin knows what could happen to Pheu Thai. The report also seems to confirm that Thaksin is going for broke this time. His current mindset, most likely, must be this: “If the election win comes at the expense of Pheu Thai being dissolved, then so be it.”    — By Thai PBS Political Desk