Thaksin Underscores His Closeness with New Thai Premier
By Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Thaksin Shinawatra, the controversial former prime minister of Thailand, has just arrived in Japan and is already making waves.
Today he spoke at several public events, including a major press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ), and he plans to visit the Japan’s tsunami victims as part of an apparent attempt to rebuild his international reputation.
Justice Minister Satsuki Eda said on August 15 that his ministry would approve Thaksin’s visit as a special case under the immigration control law, which normally bans entry of convicted criminals.
After the 2004 tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia, Thaksin received global sympathy and his party won a disputed election which opposition parties boycotted.
Some analysts have questioned Thaksin’s timing in light of the fact that his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, has only very recently become prime minister and is still in the process of consolidating her authority.
In his FCCJ press conference, Thaksin was candid about the fact that he is extremely close to his younger sister, whom he views as a sort of “eldest daughter.”
He described Yingluck very clearly as a protégé, even saying that he “sent her” to graduate school in the West and “trained her” to become the president of a company he owns.
He said, “When she needs my advice she calls me. I give her advice, that’s all. I act like an encyclopedia. Whenever she wants to open the encyclopedia she can feel free to open it. And she can close it anytime. That’s it.”
Thaksin also said that he hasn’t yet decided whether or not to return to his homeland, saying that he would not return if he would only become “part of the problem,” but that he would immediately return if that could form “part of the solution.”
Thaksin’s visit to Japan has proven divisive in Thailand, where the opposition Democrat Party said that they would seek to impeach and file criminal charges against new Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul for ignoring the arrest warrant against Thaksin.
On the 17th about fifty people protested in front of the Japanese embassy in Bangkok after it became known that Thaksin would be granted the visa.
Nathalie and Kyoko