Red-shirt leader Sombat Boonngam-anong, one of those strongly critical of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s shifting stances, yesterday said Thaksin’s remark that the red shirts had rowed the boat to send him to the other side of the river reflected the ex-premier’s “egotistic attitude”.
Sombat, considered one of the progressives among the red shirts, likened Thaksin to “just a station on the way towards democracy”, and that Thaksin was not the destination.
“I want to tell my fellow red shirts loudly that we have to continue with our journey. The Dubai tycoon has left us and we have to live with it,” he said, referring to Thaksin.
Meanwhile, the defence minister said yesterday that Thaksin was not cosying up to the elite as had been alleged by some disappointed red-shirt figures.
ACM Sukampol Suwannathat said he had never heard that Thaksin had reached any deal with the elite. He said “positive or friendly gestures” did not mean that the Thaksin camp had made a deal with the elite.
His remarks came after disappointment among independent red-shirt leaders, who are not connected to the ruling Pheu Thai Party, following Thaksin’s video-link address to the red shirts’ gathering last Saturday.
On the second anniversary of the unrest and riots in 2010, Thaksin asked his red-shirt supporters to back the government’s reconciliation efforts and remain patient with the slow justice process regarding the deaths of their family members who were among 91 people killed during over two months of political turmoil. He also urged the red shirts to respect the monarchy.
Sukampol yesterday said it was normal for Thaksin’s remarks to draw both support and criticism. “We have the same goal although we take different paths,” he said. “You can’t force people to do anything you like. You have to let them do their job so that our common goal will be achieved.”
He said the country needed to achieve reconciliation to ensure its survival. “The main goal for this government is a stable country,” he said.
The defence minister said he believed Thaksin wanted to return to the country, adding that he did not think the ex-leader would be of any threat to anyone.
In 2008, Thaksin was sentenced in-absentia to two years in jail by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders for abuse of power. He did not appeal the verdict, saying that it was politically motivated.