Panthongtae's claim of plot to kill his father given as reason; NSC chief changes stance after Chalerm lunch
Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has cancelled his plan to visit Tachilek near the Thai border to meet red shirts following reports of an assassination plot against him, a source close to him said yesterday.
The source said Thaksin would visit Myanmar on Thursday as scheduled but would not visit Tachilek – a border town across a small river from Mae Sai in Chiang Rai – on Friday and Saturday as announced earlier.
Many red-shirt supporters were reported to have booked hotels in Mae Sai, hoping to cross the border to meet the former PM in Tachilek.
The source said it was not yet certain how many days Thaksin would spend in Myanmar.
Claims of an assassination plot were posted on Facebook by Thaksin’s son Panthongtae on Sunday after a Shan man was arrested in Tachilek on Friday with an assortment of war weapons, including RPG rocket launchers.
Panthongtae said some people had hired the Shan man to kill Thaksin with an RPG rocket. Panthongtae insisted yesterday the plot was real. He posted a note on his Facebook wall, urging the red shirts to tell Thaksin to cancel his visit to Tachilek and telling them to wait to meet his father somewhere else more safe.
Panthongtae said he and his two sisters would travel to be with Thaksin in Tachilek if his father declined to cancel the planned visit.
“I would like to say that although Dad is not afraid, your three children fear that your life would be in danger,” Panthongtae said on his Facebook wall.
“Dad, if you think it’s really safe, I, Aim and Ink [two daughters of Thaksin] will be there with you.”
National Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattanathabutr made an about-face yesterday over the alleged plot, which cast doubt on the claim.
Paradorn told reporters in the morning the plot had no grounds but later in the day, he changed his words after he was summoned to a meeting with Deputy Premier Chalerm Yoobamrung at noon.
Also attending the lunch was Metropolitan Police chief Pol Lt Gen Khamronwit Thoopkrajang.
After the lunch, Paradorn said the discovery of war weapons was related to Thaksin’s planned visit to Tachilek.
Paradorn said intelligence information of the NSC and investigations by the Provincial Police Bureau 5 indicated there was a plot to assassinate Thaksin.
“Shortly after the arrest, the man said it was related but now it is in the process of being investigated.
“From the available information, we must regard that there were grounds for the plot but we are investigating more for further information. The area is sensitive and we are in the process of proposing safety measures – not just for the former leader but for Thais who would cross the border to be there.”
While the NSC chief said the plot had grounds, Defence Minister ACM Sukampol Suwannathat said the reports were groundless.
“You must ask for more information from Panthongtae, as I have no idea,” Sukampol replied when asked about the reports.
He said the discovery of war weapons was just a coincidence with Thaksin’s planned visit.
“From what I have learned, the two incidents were not related. You should not report that they were related as they were not,” Sukampol had said.
Sukampol said Thai officials had no authority over Tachilek so they could not be present to maintain security for Thaksin and Thais.
Chalerm, meanwhile, said he had instructed the commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau 5 to coordinate with the Myanmar authorities to seek more details.
Chalerm said he learned that the suspect had retracted his words so the Thai police were waiting for more information from their Myanmar counterparts.