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Thaksin Shinawatra’s Return Saga: From Hero’s Welcome to House Arrest and New Legal Hurdles

In the realm of Thai politics, where drama and intrigue never seem to take a day off, the saga of Thaksin Shinawatra, the enigmatic former prime minister, has taken another fascinating turn. Just when supporters began to unfurl banners in celebration of his eventual homecoming, political activist Wirangrong Dabbaransi played the role of the proverbial party pooper, unveiling documents that could potentially reroute Thaksin’s journey from a hero’s welcome to a cell’s solitude.

The twist in Thaksin’s tale stems from an interview he granted the South Korean daily, Chosun Ilbo, which has since become the equivalent of opening Pandora’s Box. In said interview, Thaksin flung accusations towards the Privy Council, implicating them in the May 22, 2014 coup that saw his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra’s government, toppled from power. Let’s pause for a moment and admire the audacity — or shall we say, the Thaksinacity? — of alleging such high stakes involvement. It’s the sort of boldness that writes history… or at least headlines.

But here’s where the plot thickens, thick as a Bangkok traffic jam during Songkran. Thaksin, having been previously sentenced in absentia to eight years behind bars for a variety of corruption charges, had just returned to Thailand after 15 long years in what can only be described as a self-imposed political exile. The prodigal son’s return, however, came with a significant twist — His Majesty the King, in an act of clemency, had commuted his sentence to a mere year.

With the Corrections Department citing Thaksin’s advancing years and dwindling health as reasons, there was talk of him serving half of this already reduced sentence under house arrest. Picture the scene: Thaksin, swapping prison bars for the comfort of his home, perhaps even contemplating a foray into gardening or finally getting around to binge-watching those series everyone’s been talking about.

However, just as the champagne bottles were being prepped, Wirangrong threw a spanner in the works. He boldly claimed that the police, with their sights set on charges of lese majeste and computer crimes, were not quite ready to let Thaksin trade his inmate uniform for slippers and a comfy robe. In other words, the celebratory mood was premature, and the battle for Thaksin’s freedom had entered yet another chapter.

A high-level source from the Justice Ministry, probably someone who knows their way around the labyrinthine corridors of Thai politics, has confirmed that the police’s move to detain Thaksin is all but done. Both the police and public prosecutors have, with due diligence, notified Thaksin of the charges, to which he has reportedly responded with a firm denial.

The ball, as they say, is now in the court of the public prosecutors. The decision is binary: pursue the case and parade Thaksin back into court or drop the charges and close this chapter. As the nation holds its breath, Thaksin, who has masterfully avoided even a single night in the clink, was whisked away to the comforts of the Police Hospital just hours after touching down in Bangkok Remand Prison.

But here’s a slice of logistical comedy to lighten the mood — Thaksin might just be escorted to his residence as early as February 16, a good two days before his official half-term date, simply because February 18th inconveniently falls on a Sunday. And as we all know, the wheels of bureaucracy grind to a halt on weekends. If not, he’ll have to cool his heels until February 19th, when the officialdom returns to their desks, ready to potentially transition Thaksin from the status of ‘inmate’ to ‘home detainee’.

So there we have it — the latest episode in the never-dull saga of Thaksin Shinawatra. The story, much like Bangkok’s vibrant streets, is loud, unpredictable, and utterly captivating. And as the world watches, one can’t help but wonder: what will the next chapter bring for Thailand’s most enigmatic political figure?

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