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Thaksin Shinawatra Faces New Lese Majeste Indictment and His Assured Return to Justice

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Thaksin Shinawatra is greeted by a sea of enthusiastic supporters as he strides into the Pheu Thai Party headquarters on March 25. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Thailand’s former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, finds himself at the center of attention once more. Assuring the nation, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin confidently declared yesterday that Thaksin will not attempt another escape to dodge the lese majeste case looming over him. “I met with Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the Pheu Thai Party leader, this morning,” Prime Minister Srettha shared. “She assured me that her father is well.”

He continued, “I trust he will stay. I believe he’s ready to confront [the lese majeste case]. Seventeen years of exile—it’s been a long haul. Today, he has stepped back into the justice system. This is just another obstacle for him to overcome.”

“I cannot speak for him directly,” Mr. Srettha added, “but I doubt he plans on leaving.”

Apprehensions linger, as many recall Thaksin’s flight from Thailand in 2008, evading a Supreme Court conviction related to aiding his then-wife, Khunying Potjaman Na Pombejra, in buying prime land in Ratchadaphisek at a discount, all while he held the premiership. Returning to Thailand late last year, Thaksin was eventually granted a royal pardon after spending months at the Police General Hospital, where he cited various health concerns.

Fast forward to May 29, and Thaksin is once again in hot water—the attorney general chose to indict him on lese majeste and computer crime charges stemming from a 2015 interview with a Seoul newspaper. “Thaksin entered information into a computer system that threatened national security,” explained Prayut Phetcharakhun, a spokesman from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).

However, the planned indictment on May 29 hit a snag when Thaksin’s lawyer presented a medical certificate noting that Thaksin was battling Covid-19 and needed rest. Prosecutors have now scheduled him to appear at the OAG at 9am on June 18 to commence the indictment process.

The allegations against Thaksin stem from remarks he made during an interview with South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo, claiming that privy councillors backed the 2014 coup that toppled his sister Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration. The police contend that his comments breached Section 112 of the Criminal Code, widely known as the lese majeste law, and the Computer Crime Act.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister and Pheu Thai list MP Sutin Klungsang emphasized that the amnesty bill championed by Pheu Thai will be selective. “The bill aims for a tailored amnesty for specific groups of offenders,” Sutin noted, stressing the importance of considering the opinions of various sectors before moving forward.

Sutin’s remarks came in response to criticism that the ruling party’s push for the amnesty bill closely followed Thaksin’s recent lese majeste indictment. Political analysts liken the current bill to a controversial amnesty initiative from 2013, introduced during Yingluck Shinawatra’s tenure, which was perceived as an attempt to broadly absolve political violence perpetrators and offer legal protection to Thaksin, then in exile.

This controversial 2013 initiative sparked significant protests led by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, culminating in a military coup that deposed the Pheu Thai-led government.

On this contentious issue, Chartthaipattana Party leader Varawut Silpa-archa, who serves as the Social Development and Human Security Minister, firmly stated that any amnesty proposal must categorically exclude those guilty of lese majeste, corruption, and serious crimes.

Pheu Thai MP Cherdchai Tantisirin, a member of the special House committee on political amnesty, clarified that the bill aims to benefit youth activists rather than Thaksin.


  1. Alex T. June 4, 2024

    Thaksin’s attempts to re-enter politics despite his past are disgraceful. His actions have repeatedly proven that he doesn’t respect the nation’s laws.

    • Ploy June 4, 2024

      But it’s also clear that many people still support him. Isn’t that a reflection of his ability to bring about positive change during his tenure?

      • Nittaya S. June 4, 2024

        People might support him but breaking laws can’t be justified just because of popular support. We need to uphold justice.

      • Alex T. June 4, 2024

        Exactly, Nittaya. Popularity isn’t a free pass for criminal behavior. Thaksin needs to face the charges just like any other citizen.

    • JohnDoe123 June 4, 2024

      Yeah, but isn’t the lese majeste law itself a controversial tool? It’s often criticized for stifling free speech.

      • Alex T. June 4, 2024

        Free speech is important, but abusing that right to undermine national security is another matter.

  2. Nina June 4, 2024

    I think Thaksin’s case shows the flaws in Thailand’s justice system. How come he got a royal pardon after such serious accusations?

    • Pat K. June 4, 2024

      The royal pardon was supposedly due to his health concerns. But many believe it was politically motivated.

      • JimmyL June 4, 2024

        This kind of favoritism only erodes trust in the legal system. If he’s truly guilty, the pardon shouldn’t have been granted.

    • Nina June 4, 2024

      True, Jimmy. It’s this kind of double standard that makes people lose faith in fairness and equality before the law.

  3. Ben D. June 4, 2024

    What’s the big deal if he got pardoned for health reasons? Everyone deserves a chance to recover.

    • MrChang June 4, 2024

      But it seems convenient that he was in the hospital just in time to avoid serious legal consequences.

  4. Areejit June 4, 2024

    Thaksin’s allegations about the privy councillors and the coup are explosive. Do you think there’s any truth to it?

  5. Somchai June 4, 2024

    Honestly, it’s hard to say. Thai politics is so murky, who knows what’s really going on behind the scenes.

  6. Leena23 June 4, 2024

    Instead of focusing on Thaksin, we should be supporting the youth activists mentioned in the amnesty bill. They are the future.

  7. OldGuard54 June 4, 2024

    Youth activists are important, but they should also learn to respect and work within the system instead of causing chaos.

    • Chang44 June 4, 2024

      Sometimes the system itself is the problem. That’s why they protest in the first place, OldGuard.

  8. Paula June 4, 2024

    I think the Pheu Thai Party is just trying to manipulate the law to benefit Thaksin, yet again. History is repeating itself.

    • Maxine L. June 4, 2024

      They definitely have a history of doing so, but it’s also clear they have a strong base. Maybe the people just want their policies?

    • Paula June 4, 2024

      Sure, but should that justify bending the rules? We need transparent politics, not more scandals.

  9. KorniK June 4, 2024

    The new charges are just another way to keep Thaksin in check. The ruling powers don’t want him back, plain and simple.

    • Sasha B. June 4, 2024

      It does seem like there’s a lot of politically motivated legal action in Thailand. Where do we draw the line?

  10. Ying June 4, 2024

    Why can’t Thailand move past Thaksin? It’s 2023! We should be focusing on the future, not old political feuds.

  11. Aaron June 4, 2024

    Thaksin is part of Thai politics whether we like it or not. His influence is still felt, and that’s why he can’t be ignored.

  12. Candy941 June 4, 2024

    Everyone seems to have an opinion about Thaksin, but what about the real issues Thailand faces? This is a distraction.

  13. Chan N. June 4, 2024

    Exactly. It’s like one giant soap opera that never ends. Let’s talk about poverty, education, public health instead.

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