Former premier Thaksin Shinawatra's address to Pheu Thai Party via Skype on Monday once again proved that he is the leader, something Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been consistently denying, at least in public.
Thaksin spoke on a number of topics, from personal to political issues, in a manner that shows he is in full command. His orders to the Pheu Thai Party were testimony to the fact that it is he who calls the shots.
During his address, he instructed the party to push for charter amendment, especially provisions related to party dissolution, and also on the amnesty bills.
Thaksin said MPs and senators should not waste time but amend Articles such as Article 68 on party dissolution and Article 190, which requires parliamentary approval for agreement with a foreign country. “When an amendment of these laws is being deliberated, MPs must ensure they attend House meetings. Whoever is responsible for a lack of quorum in Parliament will face an allowance cut,’’ he warned.
Both articles authorise Constitution Court to rule on problematic cases.
Thaksin also ordered ministers to clarify against allegations that he owns a massive number of PTT shares, saying it is not true because PTT is a public company.
Thaksin also touched on the current controversial issue of the government seeking to raise Bt2.2 trillion for infrastructure. He told the government to clearly explain to the public that they would benefit from the infrastructure development, for which the government needs loans. He asked them to point out benefits of mass-transit systems linking neighbouring countries like China and having high-speed trains linking remote Northeast provinces such as Nong Khai.
“The Democrats will definitely stage an all-out war against the move to get the loan. They are attacking us with judo-like strategies while we do not know how to defend ourselves. We must have knowledge as our weapon,’’ he said.
Regarding the recent gubernatorial defeat, Thaksin complimented some Bangkok constituencies that worked hard, resulting in the party gaining more votes and popularity. He also threatened not to field candidates in constituencies that showed poor results such as those that support Sudarat Keyuraphan.
His speech also showed that his desire to return home is as strong as ever. “As for the amnesty, MPs can do whatever they decide but be united and well-rounded … I am as if floating in the ocean. I ask myself I push for this person to be in this post and that person for that post but what about me? How can I come back home?’’ he said.
During the Skype meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung’s face dropped when Thaksin criticised his anti-drug measures saying they were not good enough. “During my time, I had the police run a tight ring; there was checking and rehabilitation so they do not use or sell drugs again,’’ he said.