SEPTEMBER 2006 COUP IN THAILAND
The military seized power in a bloodless coup on September 19, 2006 that ousted Thaksin, while he was in New York preparing to speak at the United Nations. The leaders of the coup accused Thaksin of corruption, insulting the monarchy and abuse of power, and promised to restore order and unity to Thailand. There were few disruptions to normal life. Stores opened and traffic was heavy as usual. The stock market, schools, banks and government offices closed. It was the first coup in 15 years. Things were back to normal 36 hours after the coup.
During the coup about 20 tanks rolled through the streets on Bangkok in the middle of the night and took up positions around the Royal Palace, Royal Plaza, the army headquarters and Government House, Thaksin’s official residence. Soldiers seized the television and radio stations. The whole was not very threatening. Tourists looked upon it as a photo opportunity and snapped pictures of each other, standing with smiling soldiers holding flowers in front of tanks. Many of the tanks had their barrels decorated with royal yellow ribbons. No shots were fired. The public gave food, flowers and drinks to the soldiers.
Led by former army chief Boonyaratglin Sondhi—a Muslim and decorated Vietnam war hero who was appointed by Thaksin a year earlier as his army chief—the coup was quick and well-orchestrated. Martial law was declared. The constitution was revoked, and troops were orders to stay in their barracks. Four senior military officers close to Thaksin were sacked. Thaksin appeared to have no clue of what was up. He said, “I didn’t expect this incident would happen,” Sondi said the coup was necessary “in order to resolve the conflict and bring back normalcy and harmony among people.”
Thaksin attempted to issue a martial law decree and demanded Sonthi’s arrest. The response was the establishment of the Council for Democratic Reform under Sonthi’s chairmanship, suspension of the 1997 constitution, a crackdown on the open media, and detention of cabinet members and political opponents of the military regime. On the day of the coup, King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit met with coup leaders, and two days later the king officially appointed Sonthi as chairman of the military authorities, known as the Council for National Security (CNS).
Sondhi appeared on national television the morning of the coup and announced the formation of a “Council of Political Reform. “The Council has not intention to run the country ourselves and will return power under the constitutional monarchy, to the people as soon as possible,” he said. Workers and farmers—key Thaksin supporters—were urged to keep calm. Radio and television stations were ordered not to broadcast any statements by Thaksin. A Thai army official appeared on television requesting “cooperation” from the public and said, “We apologize for the inconvenience.”
According to a white paper issued by the CNS in November 2006, causes of the coup were corruption, abuse of power, lack of integrity, interference in the checks and balances system, human rights violations, and destroying the unity of the people during the leadership of the Thaksin government.
Reaction the September 2006 Coup in Thailand
Dubbed a “pro-democracy coup,” the putsch was supported by many ordinary Thais although clearly not Thaksin’s most loyal supporters. One student told AP, “We desperately needed a change. The prime minister was corrupt and doing a lot of harm.” King Bhumibol gave his blessing (some think his privy council had a hand in staging the coup). The stock market was down but it didn’t crash. The baht didn’t weaken and actually strengthened. But some saw the coup as s perversion of democracy with a persistent mob representing Thailand’s wealthy overthrowing a popularly elected leader who enjoyed the solid support of the rural majority.
One poll showed that 80 percent of Thais supported the coup. Even loyal Thaksin supporters felt it was the only way out of the political crisis that Thailand was mired in. One poor farmer and Thaksin supporter told AP, “The situation was becoming more chaotic and tense. If they didn’t seize power, it might have been worse.” Despite these sentiments many rural Thais still loved Thaksin and wanted him to return to power. Some Thaksin supporters wept.
The military said the coup was necessary to keep pro-Thaksin and anti-Thaksin supporters from engaging in violent clashes. Former Prime Minister Leekpai said, “As politicians, we do not support any kind of coup, but during the past five years the government of Thaksin created several conditions that forced the military to stage the coup. Thaksin has caused the crisis in the country.”
The coup was condemned by the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and European Union as not only a blow to democracy in Thailand but also to democracy in Southeast Asia where, especially in countries such as Myanmar and the Philippines, the military wields a lot of power. The United States suspended military aid and halted talks on a free trade agreement with Thailand. Thailand’s Asian neighbors took a more quiet, wait-and-see approach to the event. As for Thailand on a foreign policy level, the coup made it harder for Thailand to criticize the military junta in Myanmar if it was run by an unelected military junta itself.
The coup leaders in Thailand imposed martial law and a ban on public gatherings of more than five people. Enforcement was particularly strict in the northern and northeastern provinces, where Thaksin support was strongest. Political parties were not allowed to campaign or hold meetings. Media broadcasts and websites with a pro-Thaksin slant were blocked. An anti-corruption board was appointed to look into Thaksin’s affairs.
After the September 2006 Coup in Thailand
Political opposition leaders and pro-democracy advocates initially embraced the September 19 coup. However, the CNS’s popularity declined following an escalation of violence with Islamic separatists in the south, a series of bombings in Bangkok, slow progress on a new constitution, and the adoption of populist economic measures and capital controls that have alarmed foreign investors.
After the coup the military handed over power to a civilian prime minister and appointed an assembly that ran an interim government for a year until a general election could be called. The new prime minister, Surayud Chulanont, a former army commander and advisor to the king, was largely regarded as modest and incorruptible. When he was young he was a member of a special military unit that did missions in Cambodia and against communist rebels in Thailand even though his father was one the leaders of the rebels.
Suruyud was officially sworn in as Thailand’s 24th prime minister in October 2006. The military installed a military-dominated, 242-member parliament whose members included bureaucrats, military personnel, police, Muslim leaders, journalists and lawyers, The junta lifted martial law in more than half of Thailand’s provinces and ended the ban on public gatherings of more than five people a few months after the coup. After this Thaksin supporters began staging modest anti-coup protests. There were someone small arson attacks in the north, which were used as justification for keeping martial law in place there.
This military-led government was regarded as feckless and lacking direction and force. It accomplished little other than giving the military budget increases. It didn’t do much to make the country run more smoothly or uncover evidence of Thaksin misdeeds—justifications for staging the coup. Unrest in southern Thailand and economic uncertainty only got worse, Surayup wasn’t much better. He became known in Thailand as “a hermit who raises turtles.” One reason for the military’s indecisiveness was that it treaded carefully and tried to stay within the limits of the law.
Bombings and Promises of Elections After the 2006 Coup
On New Year’s Eve in 2007 nine small bombings occurred in Bangkok that left three people dead and wounded 38, including nine foreigners. Rumors about the source and reason for the bombings quickly spread. The military said that Thaksin supporters were behind the blasts, which they said were an attempt to undermine the postcoup government. Some Thais believed the military set off the bombs to justify their hold on power. There were rumors of another coup.
The first six bombs exploded within an hour of each on a Sunday, mostly in places where they could cause disruptions—a bus stop, a parking area of a shopping mall, a small open markets, two police posts—but not places when they could cause major carnage. Three others went off the next day. Among those detained in connection with the New Year bombings were police and military officers who were all later cleared. Thaksin said that Muslim insurgents were probably behind the bombing.
On January 31, 2007, General Sonthi made a public announcement that he would hold democratic elections before the end of the year. He also promised that the army would immediately hand over control to a civilian government following the inauguration of a new prime minister.
In May 2007, a court ordered Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai party of be dissolved because electoral law violations in the 2006 election and barred Thaksin and 110 of his political allies from engaging in politics for five years. Many expected the Democratic Party to also be disbanded because it committed election law violations too but it wasn’t. The banning of Thaksin’s party had little impact. The party quickly regrouped under a different name (the People’s Power Party, PPP). A wave of anti-military and anti-coup protests led by Thaksin supporters began again in June 2007. In July 2007, a large anti-military demonstration was staged by Thaksin supporters outside the home of a former prime minister accused of being behind the coup. It turned violent resulting in hundreds of injuries, most of them sustained by policemen. Some thought martial law might be imposed.
Thaksin After the Coup in 2006
After the September 2006 coup Thaksin flew to London from New York and said he was going to take a “deserved rest” from politics. He did not challenge the military and said, “I volunteered to work for the country, but if they don’t want me to do that, I won’t” . He resigned from the Thai Rak Thai party which collapsed only to be reborn as the People’s Power Party (PPP).
There were rumors that Thaksin whisked his assets out of the country in 104 heavy suitcases and trunks aboard two aircrafts days before the cup. Thaksin called Gen. Sonthi and asked if he could return, The general told him no that such an action would be inappropriate and later said any plane carrying Thaksin would not be allowed to land. Thaksin family members initially stayed in Thailand reportedly to protect family assets with his son Parthongtae staying at the family residence and his wife and daughter staying at a “safe house” under the protection of a former air force commander.
While Thaksin was in exile the Thai generals who were in power tried ro repress news about him, ordering television stations not to run interviews with him. In January 2007, Thailand’s military government abruptly ended a nine-year-old exchange program with Singapore after it let Thaksin in the country and a Singaporean cabinet minister met with Thaksin. The Thai generals were also angry about an interview with Thaksin on CNN shot in Singapore. Broadcasters in Thailand were not allowed to run clips of the interview, in Thaksin said “enough was enough” in reference to the way he had been treated by the ruling regime in Thailand. Thaksin sometimes abruptly ended calls on his cell phones out of fear that the generals might be listening in.
Thaksin’s Lifestyle After the Coup in 2006
In late 2006 William Pesek of Bloomberg wrote Thaksin deserved the “Happy in Exile Award”: “Rather than sulking about the military leaders who on September 19 took over Asia's ninth-biggest economy, Thaksin is on a global shopping tour of his own. Thaksin has been seen literally circling Bangkok with stops in Beijing, Hong Kong, Bali and elsewhere - and with the press always in tow. Perhaps it's his way of annoying the generals trying to make sense of Thailand's economy. Or maybe it's just a sign that when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. [Source: William Pesek, Bloomberg, December 19, 2006]
Thaksin said on several occasions he was through with politics but some actions said otherwise. He hired an expensive public relations to get his message out (the Thai government countered by hiring its own firm for $55,000 a month for three months). He spent his time playing golf, meeting government ministers and giving interviews to the foreign press. He could be accessed in Thailand on the radio, websites and sometimes on television. He even distributed a documentary film in Thailand about his life in exile and the purchase of Manchester City soccer team. News of Thaksin’s sports interests took headlines away from the military junta who WAS engaging in things like reshuffling the cabinet, irritating them and delighting Thaksin. Around the same time King Bhumibol was named president of the Professional Golf Association of Thailand.
Thaksin spent most of his time in exile in London, where he owns a posh towhnouse. He also spent time in Beijing and Hong Kong and was spotted playing golf in Australia, Bali and Beijing, where he opened a new course with Jack Nicklaus. He lived for a while in 2008 in the United Arab Emirates, which does not have an extradition policy with Thailand, and popped up in Liberia, where he checked out a diamond mine, and Nicaragua, which issued him a passport and named him a “Nicarguan ambassador on a special mission.”. Thailand revoked his personal and diplomatic passport. He also acquired a passport from and Montenegro, where there were reports he might buy a resort island.
In 2007, Thaksin became the new owner of the Manchester City soccer team (See Soccer) and was appointed a visiting professor at Takushoku University in Tokyo. Because the barbers in London either cut his hair “too short to too funky” he had his regular barber in Bangkok flown to Hong Kong or Singapore whenever he visited there. In November 2008, Thaksin and his wife were barred from entering Britain a month after he was convicted on corruption charges and given a two year sentence in Thailand. In June 2009 he was banned from entering Germany.
In her book “Thaksin Where Are You?”, Thai journalist Sunrisa Lertpakawat said Thaksin told her he filled his time in London with golf, karaoke and shopping for handbags with his wife and two daughters, he traveled regulalrly to France to enjoy “real wine and homemade food” and went to Miami for golf lessons. He said he had eight cell phones and 20 SIM cards and claimed he a “poor guy today” even though he had just spent $162 million to buy the Manchester City soccer club and picked up the check for 8,000 Manchester City fans. A frequent companion was a Thai pop singer known Lydia who was his side on a shopping trip to Japan. “She is like a daughter to him,” his son said according to the New York Times. [Source: Seth Mydans, New York Times, August 17, 2007]
Thaksin returned to Thailand in February 2008 after a new government made up mostly of his supporters took office. He kissed the tarmac after stepping off the plane and was briefly held by police and then released on bail. He had been in exile for 17 months. Again he vowed to stay out of politics. His arrival was cheered by supporters but condemned by his critics—sharply dividing Thailand.
Thaksin’s Corruption Trial
In April 2007, two Thaksin children were slapped with a $789 million tax bill in connection with sale of the Shin Corporation to the Singaporean firm. In June 2007 about $1.6 billion in Thaksin family assets were frozen. Much of the money that was frozen was earned in the Shin Corporation sale. There were reports of more than $514 million going missing from Thaksin accounts shortly before the freeze took effect. Later more funds were frozen bringing the total to over $2 billion.
Later Thaksin was charged in four corruption cases. His wife was charged in two. Two of his children were charged in three cases. Corruption charges were investigated by a nine-member anti-corruption commission—the National Counter Corruption Commission— appointed after the coup in September 2006. The commission was given over 10,000 cases to investigate.
In March 2008, Thaksin pleaded not guilty before the Thai Supreme Court to two criminal corruption charges against him. He was accused of: 1) using his office to obtain a choice piece of Bangkok real estate for his wife in 2003; and 2) awarding low-interest loans to Myanmar while prime minister in a deal that benefitted his family’s telecommunication business. In July Thaksin was ordered to appear at a corruption trial in August. If convicted he faced 10 years in prison.
In August 2008, Thaksin skipped bail and went into exile in London, leaving behind $2 billion in frozen assets. A court ordered the arrest of Thaksin and his wife and seized $385,000 in bail after the couple missed a hearing for his wife’s land purchase. In a note Thaksin said: “If I am fortunate enough, I will return and die on Thai soil, just like other Thais.” Shortly afterwards, Thailand began the lengthy process of trying to extradite Thaksin. Thaksin’s diplomatic passport was revoked in December 2008.
Convictions in Thaksin’s Corruption Trial
In January 2008, Thaksin’s wife Potjaman returned to Thailand and was arrested on conflict of interest charges in regards to a property deal and false disclosure charges in regard to a company listed on the stock market. Many wondered why she came back. Some joked she came back to pick up suitcases full of stuff she was unable to take the first time she left the country after the coup.
In July 2008 Potjaman, her adopted brother Bhanapot Damapong and secretary were found guilty of tax evasion and sentenced to three years in jail for evading millions of dollars in taxes through a complicated transfer of shares scheme in the Thaksin family business in 1997. She was at the courthouse in Bangkok with Thaksin when the ruling was read. She was released on $150,000 bail and filed a appeal. She later fled Thailand but returned in December 2008. In August 2011, Pojaman won her appeal and was acquitted of the charges of tax evasion and thus not required to go to jail.
In October 2008, Thaksin was sentenced to two years in prison for abuse of power in the case involving his wife’s purchase of land. Thaksin said he anticipated the result and remarked, “The case is politically motivated, and you know what politics in Thailand is like. In November 2008, Thaksin got a divorce from Pojaman in Hong Kong. Many think he did this to protect Thaksin family assets, many of which were in Potjaman’s name.
Thaksin’s allies were driven from government in December 2008 after anti-Thaksin protesters occupied Bangkok's airports.
Thaksin in 2009
Thaksin remained an influential figure on Thailand's turbulent political scene, stirring up mass protests from abroad against the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. In January 2009, Thaksin accused Abhisit of copying his policies and dozens of Thaksin supporters three eggs at senior politicians in the Abhisit government outside the main government building, forcing a religious ceremony to be cut short.
In February 2009, Thaksin said during a speecg in China: “I earlier announced that I would wash my hands of politics. But there are so many politically-motivated cases being filed against me. I want to tell you now that I am ready to retur to the political areab ince again. I will fight no matter what happens. I’m read to be prime minister again if people support me.” At that time the Thai government under Abhisit Vejjajiva said it would ask China to send Thaksin back to Thailand to serve his two-year jail term. In March he said from Hong Kong he was short of money because the Thai government had forzeon most of his assets.
In October 2009, the Thai government announced that it would strip Thaksin of his royal awards and his official rank from his time in the police force. In November 2009, the Thai government banned a Times interview with Thaksin and warned journlaist who quiated from the piece might be charged with insulting the monarchy. In the interview Thaksin called for reform of the monarchy and spoke about his high hopes for Thailand after the death of King Bhumibol and praised controversial Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, which some interpreted as a slight against the king.
In November 2009,Thaksin was appointed as an economic advisor to the Cambodia government. "Thaksin has already been appointed by royal decree... as personal adviser to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and the adviser to the Cambodian government in charge of economy," said a government statement read on television. "Allowing Thaksin to stay in Cambodia is virtuous behaviour...good friends need to help each other in difficult circumstances," it added. [Source: AFP, November 4, 2009]
The Thai government requested that Cambodia extradite Thaksin to Thailand. Hun Sen called Thaksin a “political victim” and was welcome in Cambodia. He said, “I would like to assure Thaksin and his supporters that Hun Sen will be his friend forever.” The statement by the Cambodian government called charges against Thaksin "politically motivated" and vowed not to extradite him if he "decides to stay in Cambodia or travels in and out of Cambodia in order to fulfill his duties". AFP reported: “Hun Sen stoked up tensions with Thailand in October 2009 when he first offered Thaksin refuge in Cambodia and then marred a summit of Asian leaders by saying he had offered him the job as economic adviser. Thailand said that the appointment was an internal matter for Hun Sen's government but it would push for the extradition of billionaire Thaksin if he sets foot in Cambodia.
In response to criticism about his appointment Thaksin said he had a lot to offer Cambodia. “A prosperous neighbor means better opportunities for us to grow together,” Thaksin said. “Of course not all my compatriots see it that way right now. Their domestic political compulsions force them to false patriotism.
A Thai man was given a jail sentence of seven years for spying for passing Mr Thaksin's private flight details to Thai diplomats while the former PM was on a visit to Cambodia. The Thai man 31-year-old Siwarak Chothipong, was freed a few months later after being pardoned by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni
The appointment of Thaksin as an advisor to the Cambodian government set off a diplomatic row with Thailand and Cambodia each recalling their ambassadors from each other’s country and Thailand threatening to seal the border between Thailand and Cambodia. Thaksin resigned from his post as advisors to Cambodia in September 2010 nine months after he took the positions as personal advisor to Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen and economic advisor to the Cambodian government.
Thailand Seized $1.4 Billion of Thaksin’s Assets and Charges Him with Terrorism
In February 2010, Thailand’s Supreme Court ordered the seizure of most of Thaksin’s $2.3 billion assets that it ruled Thaksin had obtained illegally by abusing his power to benefit his telecom firm. The court confiscated $1.4 billion of frozen Thaksin assets. The court ruling allowed him to keep about $900 million. Soon after the court decision, Red Shirts began mobilizing for an occupation of downtown Bangkok. After the decision was announced grenade attacks were launched at four branches of Thailand’s biggest bank. Two of the four grenades hurled at Bangkok Bank branches exploded, No caulties were reported,
In March 2010, after the court seized most of his fortune, Thaksin tweeted his supporters to join an anti-government rally in Bangkok to demand his return, On the message Thaksin wrote: “I would like to urge those who love democracy, justice, equality and those who think I have been bullied without mercy and humanity, to join the rally. In August 2010, Thailand’s Supreme Court rejected Thaksin’s appeal over the seizure of $1.4 billion of his fortune.
In May 2011, a Thai court ordered the arrest of Thaksin on terrorism charges in connection with the deadly riots that killed 90 and injured 1,900 in April and May 2010. An investigator said: “The court has said there is evidence that Thaksin was the mastermind, having played a significant rile in instructing and manipulating the incidents.” Government officials chared that Thaksin funded the protests with $1.5 million a day and is believed to have organized the smuggling of arms and fighters from Cambodia . If convicted of terrorism charges he could face the death penalty. At the time of the ruling Thaksin was at the Cannes Fil Festival in France. He wrote on his twitter page: “As a prime minister who won two landslide election victories, I was ousted in a ocup. As I was fighting peacefully for justice for the return of my robbed assets, I was slaed with terrorism charges.”
In August 2010, Sondhi Limthinggul and another prominent Yellow Shirt leader were convcited of defaming Thaksin by accusing him of insulting the monarchy. The two men, who were suded by Thaksin via a lawyer in Thailand, were fined and given suspended six-month prison sentences. In speeches broadcast on Sondhi’s pro-yellow television channel a former deputy prime minister under Thaksin was quoted as saying he quit his post after Thaksin verbally insulted the monrachy. The court ruled this was a defamation of Thaksin.
Thaksin in 2011 and 2012
In 2011 Thaksin was living in a house in a luxury gated community in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which does not hav an extradition policy with Japan. At that time he was avoiding serving his two-year jail term for corruption. He also faced terrorism charges in Thailand.
In July 2011 Thaksin’s little sister Yingluck Shinawatra became prime minister of Thailand. Before the election Thaksin denied wanting to lead Thailand again but said Yingluck was his “clone.” (See Yingluck and Thaksin). Many think he would pull the strings behind the scene. His possible return to Thailand became a heated discussion topic, with many arguing that a hasty return would inflame and embolden the opposition and ignite protests and vioelnce.
Following the victory by Pheu Thai Party in July 2011, several countries, including Germany and Japan, lifted the ban that had once been imposed upon Thaksin. Soon after that he traveled to Japan in what some said was an attempt to return to the world stage. In August he visited parts of Japan damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and stopped on Macao on his way back to Dubai,
In June 2012, Yingluck introduced legislation that was largely seen as first step in granting amnesty to Thaksin and paving the way for his return to Thailand. The legislation—a government-backed reconciliation bill to grant amnesty to all parties involved in political violence from 2005 to 2010—was not welcomed by the opposition which organized street rallies. In parliament a female lawmakers dragged the speakers chair from the podium, prompting a scuffle among parliament members. In the meantime the five year ban placed on Thaksin and his associates from engaging in politics ended. Around the same time Thaksin was in Japan seeking partners for a development plan in Myanmar.
Proposal for Thaksin's Royal Pardon Withdrawn
In December 2011, the Thai government said there would be no royal pardon for Thaksin that year but said he would get a Thai passport. Lindsay Murdoch wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald, “The Thai government has withdrawn the endorsement of a royal pardon for the fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra that threatened to ignite new protests. The decision also allowed King Bhumibol Adulyadej to mark his 84th birthday without controversy. The government's backdown followed strong criticism of the endorsement that would have allowed Thaksin, a divisive figure, to return to Thailand after living in Dubai for five years to escape a two-year jail sentence for corruption. [Source: Lindsay Murdoch, Sydney Morning Herald, November 22, 2011]
Leaders of the royalist Yellow Shirt movement and the opposition had vowed to protest against any pardon for Thaksin, the elder brother of the Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra. After news of the government's endorsement plan was leaked to the media last week, Thaksin issued a statement saying he did not want any favours at a time of national disaster (Thailand was engulfed by floods) and was prepared to ''sacrifice my personal happiness even though I have not received justice during the past five years''. Government critics say that behind the scenes Thaksin has been influencing Ms Yingluck's decision-making from abroad. But the withdrawal of the pardon will win her praise after she came under fierce criticism for her handling of the floods.
The Justice Minister, Pracha Promnok, said the pardons to be sent for approval to King Bhumibol to mark his birthday this year would not include anyone found guilty of offences relating to drugs or corruption, or fugitives, ruling out the billionaire Thaksin, who was overthrown by the military during a 2006 coup. Mr Pracha said the decision was in response to widespread criticism of the move. ''Convicts on the run will not be eligible,'' he said. Anti-Thaksin groups immediately called off the planned street protests.
Thaksin and the Red Shirts
Thaksin has said repeatedly he is ready to return “at the right time” and lead his followers in a “peaceful uprising”. He told CNN on Monday he is not bankrolling the Red Shirt movement but only providing “moral support”.
Blaine Harden wrote in the Washington Post: “Since fleeing into exile, Thaksin has paid salaries to some Red Shirt leaders and periodically flies them out of the country for strategy consultations. "Thaksin is a kind of tractor for us," said Jaran, who said that he has traveled to Dubai with other Red Shirt leaders to meet with Thaksin. "If we didn't have him, we would still be using a shovel. Anyway, it is meaningless who pays. We are fighting a war. We need money." [Source: Blaine Harden, Washington Post, May 1, 2010]
In July 2009, Red Shirts at rally held near the royal palace in Bangkok claimed they obtained 5 million signatures on a petition calling for a Thaksin pardon. Thaksin called into the rally on a telephone link and thanked a cheering crowd of 30,000: “I hope I can be among you soon, I am 60 this year and it is my hope that I can return home when I am 61.” The petition called for Thailand’s King Bhumibol to grant Thaksin clemency.
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Tourist Authority of Thailand, Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.
Last updated May 2014