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Thaksin Shinawatra’s Return Sparks Debate Over Section 112 Amnesty

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In the heart of Nakhon Ratchasima, on a warm May 25th, the former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, was met with a sea of red-shirt supporters, all beaming with enthusiasm. Meanwhile, political tides were shifting as the Pheu Thai Party took a surprising step back, revising their earlier bold claim to incorporate violations of Section 112—known as the lese majeste law—into the amnesty bill. The elegance of political maneuvers in Thailand never fails to capture attention, and this development was no exception. (Photo: Prasit Tangprasert)

The week had been rife with anticipation following statements hinting at extending the amnesty bill’s reach. Initially, it looked like Section 112 violators might find a haven. However, by Friday, Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai stepped forward to underline the complexity of the issue, suggesting a necessary pause to pool public consensus. The delicate balance of avoiding future discord was paramount, he noted.

Mr. Phumtham, a stalwart within Pheu Thai, refrained from giving a definitive stance. Instead, he preached prudence, emphasizing that the path to legislation must be paved by public agreement to preempt potential chaos. The political landscape appeared divided yet not decisively against this unfolding proposal, demonstrating the nuanced dance of democracy.

That very week, Somkid Chueakong, a spokesman for the House committee studying the amnesty for political detainees and aide to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, unveiled that several committee members viewed the inclusion of Section 112 offenses favorably. Even so, Somkid was quick to clarify: Pheu Thai had neither confirmed nor refuted backing this controversial inclusion in the amnesty bill.

Friday saw further elaborations from Mr. Phumtham, who echoed the party’s commitment to people-first politics, indicating an openness to follow the citizens’ lead. A unanimous call to extend amnesty to Section 112 violators could indeed streamline the decision-making process, guiding Pheu Thai’s legislative path.

Criticism soon emerged, suggesting that the amendments could favor Thaksin Shinawatra, now facing a lese majeste charge. Yet, Mr. Phumtham nonchalantly dismissed such criticism, asserting that partisan pettiness wouldn’t detract from their mission. “Today,” he asserted, “We neither refute nor confirm the proposal. Society is well aware of the political and social ramifications. Our government remains committed to finding the least divisive resolution.”

On May 29, a significant milestone materialized: the attorney general pronounced Thaksin’s indictment, citing both lese majeste and cyber crimes tied to a 2015 interview he gave in Seoul. Thaksin was commanded to appear before the Office of the Attorney General on June 18, having postponed earlier dates due to a COVID-19 infection. Despite his low media presence, Thaksin was subtly sighted at a spa in the Pathumwan district’s Phloenchit area mere days prior, fueling intrigue.

Meanwhile, former deputy director of the National Intelligence Agency, Nanthiwat Samart, stirred the pot with a thought-provoking Facebook post. He drew parallels to the tumultuous days leading up to the 2014 coup d’etat, when the Yingluck administration’s sweeping amnesty bill ignited massive protests. Accusations flew then, too, suggesting it was a ploy to absolve Thaksin, who had exiled himself. The People’s Democratic Reform Committee’s vociferous objection culminated in the ousting of Yingluck’s Pheu Thai-led government, a stark warning echoing through history.

In the world of Thai politics, where every move is scrutinized, the happiness found in Thaksin’s supporter-filled welcome was a rare reprieve. Yet, the specter of past political turmoil hovered, a potent reminder of the delicate balance the nation strives to maintain.


  1. Pauline W June 7, 2024

    Thaksin’s return seems like a blatant attempt to clear his own charges under the guise of democracy. Anyone else think that?

    • Anil P June 7, 2024

      It’s definitely suspicious. Why else would they suddenly consider including Section 112 in the amnesty bill?

      • ThaksinTiger June 7, 2024

        You guys are reading too much into it. Pheu Thai is genuinely trying to avoid future discord.

      • Pauline W June 7, 2024

        I hear you, but I just find it hard to believe there aren’t ulterior motives. Especially given Thaksin’s history.

    • Chaiwat L. June 7, 2024

      Also, let’s not forget the possible backlash if they do include Section 112. It could lead to massive protests again.

      • FreedomSpeaker June 7, 2024

        Protests might be necessary. The law is outdated.

      • Pauline W June 7, 2024

        Exactly, and we don’t need more political instability right now.

  2. Suda T. June 7, 2024

    Why should criminals who disrespect the monarchy be allowed to walk free? Section 112 is there for a reason.

    • Sakchai M June 7, 2024

      It’s not about disrespect. Many people are unfairly charged under this law.

      • Dr. Varin K. June 7, 2024

        Indeed, misuse of Section 112 has been a tool for political suppression. Amnesty might balance things.

      • Suda T. June 7, 2024

        I still think it sets a bad precedent. What’s to stop more people from doing the same?

  3. green_envy June 7, 2024

    This move is just a distraction from bigger issues like the economy. Who cares about Thaksin right now?

    • Nina June 7, 2024

      Totally agree. Focus should be on real issues affecting people’s daily lives.

      • Sakchai M June 7, 2024

        Politics impacts everything, including the economy. Can’t separate the two.

      • green_envy June 7, 2024

        But does it always have to be about Thaksin? It’s getting old.

    • Jasmine B. June 7, 2024

      Economic problems can’t be solved overnight. Meanwhile, amnesty could provide immediate relief to some.

  4. Tony P. June 7, 2024

    Sick of the back-and-forth. Can we have a government that isn’t constantly caught up in legal dramas?

    • Ethan M June 7, 2024

      Tell me about it. Let’s just focus on governance and not drama.

    • Suda T. June 7, 2024

      As long as we have corrupt politicians, there will always be legal drama.

  5. Karn J. June 7, 2024

    Thaksin at a spa days before his summons? Classic evasion tactics.

    • purplehues June 7, 2024

      LOL, always hiding when it’s convenient!

    • Chaiwat L. June 7, 2024

      He should face the charges head-on if he’s innocent.

  6. Lila June 7, 2024

    Just think what kind of reaction removing Section 112 from the amnesty bill would cause. It’s a powder keg waiting to explode.

    • Tee R. June 7, 2024

      That’s why they should proceed with caution. One wrong move and we could see a repeat of 2014.

  7. Kwan June 7, 2024

    It’s concerning that they are even considering including Section 112. A law is a law!

    • Dr. Varin K. June 7, 2024

      Laws should evolve with society. Stagnation is not governance.

  8. Justine June 7, 2024

    The Pheu Thai party better tread carefully. This could either make or break them in the next election.

  9. bluewaves June 8, 2024

    Feels like deja vu. We’ve been here before with Yingluck’s government. History repeating itself much?

    • EverDoubt June 8, 2024

      History is doomed to repeat if lessons aren’t learned.

  10. Soraya June 8, 2024

    The people have the right to decide on such important legal amendments. Public consensus is key.

    • Tee R. June 8, 2024

      Exactly. Rushing into decisions will only breed resentment.

    • Soraya June 8, 2024

      Right, a careful and inclusive approach is necessary.

  11. KeiranD June 8, 2024

    Thaksin should just stay out of politics. He’s had his time.

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