Former PM Thaksin says daughter Paetongtarn will announce his return to Thailand this year

Pheu Thai party leader Paetongtarn Shinawatra (right) during a visit to a community in Bangkok's Chinatown on Jan 21. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BANGKOK - Fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra insists his return to Thailand will come without help from Pheu Thai or the ruling Palang Pracharath Party and will be announced by his daughter Paetongtarn.

Thaksin made the latest declaration on returning to his homeland during a discussion on the Clubhouse social media app on Tuesday night.

It came amid rumours that Palang Pracharat and Pheu Thai have done a deal for Thaksin to return after the general election, scheduled for May.

The former PM was answering questions from supporters in a live session held by the CARE Kid Kluan Thai (Think and Move Thailand) Facebook page.

Asked when he would return to Thailand, Thaksin revealed that he suffered an illness last year that disrupted his plans to come back.

“I intended to do so and I sped up oxygen treatment before the year-end. But the situation remained dangerous and my children had concerns over my safety,” he said. The ex-PM did not reveal why he needed oxygen therapy, though he reportedly caught Covid-19 last year.

“Anyway, I can confirm that I’ll definitely return and I want to emphasise here that I won’t be seeking help from any political party, including Pheu Thai. I’ll depend on my own heart, so don’t worry about me.”

Thaksin asked supporters to listen out for an announcement by his youngest daughter, Ms Paetongtarn, who is set to be unveiled as Pheu Thai’s candidate for prime minister at the next election.

“Ing (Paetongtarn) will announce when I’ll be back,” Thaksin added.

The former prime minister said no amnesty law would be enacted to pardon him and Pheu Thai would not seek compromise with Palang Pracharath over an amnesty.

“I depend on myself. I won’t beg for help from (Palang Pracharath). I can help myself and I’ll definitely return,” he declared.

Complaining of persecution by Thai authorities during his exile, he said he would return to his homeland to defend himself.

Thaksin was ousted in a military coup on Sept 19, 2006 while attending a United Nations meeting in New York. He returned in April 2008 to a hero’s welcome only to flee from a corruption trial in August 2008. He was eventually sentenced to a total of 10 years in jail.

An amnesty push by the government of his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, sparked street protests that culminated in the 2014 coup led by then Army chief Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.

A supporter of the Pheu Thai party holding pictures of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck in March 2019. PHOTO: ST FILE

On Tuesday, former red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan alleged that Thaksin had betrayed his supporters before the coup by compromising with Mr Prayut to block red shirts from protesting.

Mr Jatuporn said Mr Prayut had been able to stage the coup only because Thaksin had done a deal with him to halt any red-shirt mass protests.

Mr Jatuporn also claimed that Thaksin had neutralised the red-shirt movement after it helped his proxy Pheu Thai party to win power.

He added that including Thaksin as a beneficiary of the amnesty push had triggered its failure, leaving many of the red shirts who should have been pardoned for political offences in jail.

Asked to comment on Mr Jatuporn’s claims, Thaksin shrugged off the allegations.

“It’s okay. It’s natural. I want to tell red shirts that humanity does matter and all understand it, including the love for democracy,” he replied.

“People seek many ways to survive and I don’t mind if they attack me.”

Thaksin said he was confident that the “pro-democracy side”, or Pheu Thai and the Move Forward Party, would win over 300 House seats at the election, citing recent opinion polls.

As a result, the pro-democracy faction would definitely win the election and form the next coalition government, he added. THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.