Back from Exile

According to his supporters, the former PM of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, will return from exile this Thursday. Thaksin has been living in London since the coup in 2006 that deposed him. Thaksin’s wife, Pojaman Shinawatra, returned on January 8th and was immediately arrested on arrival in Bangkok for violations of stock-trading and land sales.

No stranger to controversy, the Shinawatra’s have been accused of dictatorship, theft, treason, nepotism, corruption, and insider trading — just to name a few.

When Thaksin returns on Thursday, he still faces an outstanding indictment on corruption. For the millions of diehard Thaksin fans, this homecoming will be a celebration — a confirmation of the failure of those generals who, in an attempt to ruin his political career, ousted him 17 months ago.

Thaksin announced his decision to return in December when his political allies won the election. Unfortunately for Thaksin, the members of the winning party have not been successful. His return illustrates an “all hands on deck” public relations approach for the new government.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, Thaksin’s choice, has proven to be a disaster — recently Samak denied a well-documented massacre of students in 1976 by right-wing vigilantes. He also downplayed the deaths of 78 Muslim demonstrators in army custody three years ago. Both comments have sparked protests. The main financier of the party, Thaksin, will have to help keep the government together while still following a five year ban on holding political office.

Thaksin’s return makes Thailand’s path for democracy a bumpy one to say the least.

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