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Key to clip's authenticity may lie in its details

While it may not be possible at this point to say the leaked audio clip that is suspected to contain a conversation between former premier Thaksin Shinawatra and Deputy Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha is authentic, details in the discussion suggest that is likely to be the case.

Yuthasak may have denied it from day one, but even PM Yingluck Shinawatra said earlier this week that the clip needed to be authenticated - though she failed to assign any particular agency to carry out the task. After a long and unusual silence, Panthongtae Shinawatra eventually posted a message on his Facebook page saying that one of the two voices in the clip is that of his father, Thaksin, but he said he was not certain if it had been edited or added from another source.

Let us examine the gist of the conversation:

1. The man who sounds like Thaksin in the clip reiterates time and again that if there is any problem, the prime minister should be reported to first. The man is quoted as saying - without being gender specific - that, "If you have anything you should speak to [her] … don't let someone outside know about this first, if [she] doesn't know. [She's] sensitive on the matter because [she] has been much criticised [about it]."

2. Regarding efforts to secure an Executive decree that would grant an amnesty - including Thaksin - two people in the clip appear to refer to a Executive decree that would allow Thaksin to return home by first introducing a proposed "Royal act" - only to have the Defence Council and the National Security Council change it to a proposed executive decree at the very last minute. The National Security Council has an aide on Thaksin's side in the shape of Lt General Paradorn Pattanatabutr, who is secretary of the council.

The clip states that "… nobody will notice if we propose a Royal act first, but once it reaches the Defence Council, in order not to create a commotion, an Executive decree will be proposed [instead] … There should be no news announcement [when the act is proposed] to the Defence Council, but it should be noted that for the sake of speed and order, it should be proposed as a Executive decree instead. Have it said so and recorded … then the National Security Council, when the law is proposed, will record it in the form of an Act. The National Security Council can then propose the government push for an executive decree instead."

3. Regarding the reshuffle of the top brass, the man who sounds like Thaksin is told by the person suspected to be Yuthasak that "I will discuss it both with the supreme commander and the Army chief, telling them, hey, you should talk with the premier outside normal rounds of discussion … when everything is settled and the Defence Council can meet, it will be quickly done." There was also a discussion about who should replace the outgoing Navy commander who will retire this year.

4. On getting Thaksin home. The man who sounds like Thaksin says "… you made me leave [Thailand], you must get me home." In response to this, the other man says he is glad to be a "mouse" that can help a "lion".

Yuthasak was in fact chairman of the Thai Olympic Committee back in 2008, who invited Thaksin to watch the Beijing Games and evade the Ratchadapisek land verdict that would have jailed Thaksin. In fact, Thaksin never returned home after leaving for Beijing.

In the tape, the man who sounds like Thaksin also proposes that he be made an adviser to the Crown Property Bureau in order to stir up fears that he will return to politics. "As a matter of fact, I want to retire comfortably … it ends with me not playing politics."

5. The clip also touches on the perceived changing attitude of the top brass towards the prime minister - claiming that supreme commander, Gen Thanasak Patimaprakorn, is now receptive towards her.

"That supreme commander initially did not see the sense of talking to the Prime Minister. Now it's fine … I took the supreme commander to see the prime minister."

Given these conversations and more, the answer as to the authenticity of the clip may be self-explanatory.




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