Letter From An International Baccalaureate to Fugitive Thaksin April 5, 2009
( Last edit 2009-04-16 )
by Thongbai Thongpao, 1984 Ramon Magsaysay Baccalaureate for Public Service
April 5, 2009
Dear Khun Thaksin,
Now that you have discovered an unhindered means to communicate with people in your home country quite conveniently, I would like to urge you to take the chance to pour your heart out. What I’m looking forward to hearing is your defence to the many charges of malfeasance and corruption filed against you and your family.
When a coup was staged on Sept 19, 2006, the coupmakers cited these charges against you to justify their action, especially the controversial sale of shares of the family company worth 73 billion baht without a single baht being paid in taxes by your family members, as well as the extension of loans by your government to Burma on condition that it bought equipment from a company controlled by your family.
These cases are still fresh in the minds of many people who have to pay taxes every time they sell or buy something no matter how nominal the value.
The complex transfer of shares among your family members also raised many eyebrows, as did the land purchase case in which you were sentenced to two years in prison by the Supreme Court, prompting you to take refuge elsewhere. Since you make no effort to appeal the case, we have no choice but to conclude that the decision is final.
No wonder, therefore, that some newspapers address you as ”male convict Thaksin”.
In all these issues, you have not uttered a word in your defence, although in my view they do much damage to your honour and dignity. Since you chose to let them all pass without much fight, we here have no choice but to believe the rumours that you plan to pass an amnesty law to make them disappear as if by magic if and when you return to power.
Judging from the video link addresses you are able to make almost daily now, you could clarify all the issues and charges to your heart’s content without being interrupted by anyone.
According to principles of law, in a civil case silence means admission of guilt.
I met a villager the other day who expressed his surprise that you have not clarified the charges against you after being given the chance. This prompted him to wonder whether all the charges were true and you simply could not argue with them.
He commented that your accusation that certain persons - the president of the Privy Council and another of its members, as well as some judges and a number of elites - had conspired to mastermind the coup which deposed you was less than convincing.
For starters, the owner of the house where the meeting allegedly took place denied any talk of a coup. Moreover, if plans for a coup were being made, why weren’t commanders of the armed forces invited instead of judges?
Your salvo against Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya in your video call did not go unchallenged, as might have been expected. A veteran diplomat, fighter and speaker, Mr Kasit has the advantage that he used to work for you and therefore knows many things about you. Above all, the man has the courage to fight back.
During the no-confidence debate against him last month, he managed to thwart all those who delivered charges against him and turned on his accusers with hot words.
Mr Kasit also challenged you to an open debate, and compared you to a brown roughneck monitor (Varanus dumerilii) - a reptile that hides in holes.
I don’t blame you if you remain silent to these insults because sometimes silence is golden. After all, you are a former prime minister. How could a man of such a high position as yours stoop so low as to engage in a verbal dogfight with one of his former subordinates?
But I would like to plead with you to think more of the country and the people you claim to love. As the commander-in-chief of the red-shirted people, you could order them to stop street protests and take the fight back to the chambers of the Parliament building instead.
By acting as leader of a credible opposition you could help the country, but you are dead wrong to think that your red-shirted army can seize this country by proceeding in their present tactics. Today your army may seem to have the upper hand, but only because other groups are hibernating for the sake of peace in the country. If you take this lull wrongly and step up the offensive, you’ll be in for a nasty surprise.
The yellow-shirted people have gone back home, but if the red shirts continue to cause unrest, they might not remain at home for very long.
As your group preaches non-violence, you should practice what you preach by taking the fight to Parliament. You may be surprised to learn you will be more welcomed there. But if you continue with what you are doing today, I’m afraid your chance of victory is less than zero.
By: Thongbai Thongpao
Source: Bangkok Post
A brief biography of Thongbai Thongpao
"I came from a poor family," THONGBAI THONGPAO says, "and I have had much experience with poverty, hardship, bitterness, and hunger." Far from allowing these circumstances to defeat him, however, he became imbued with compassion and a sense of justice that has directed his entire life's work as journalist and lawyer espousing the cause of the oppressed.
THONGBAI was born on April 12, 1926 in Maha Sarakham, capital of Maha Sarakham Province in Thailand's impoverished northeast. His parents, Noo Thongpao and Ngao Rintharuek, rice farmers who eked out a living from their ten-acre plot of land, died by the time he was nine years old. From then on THONGBAI the youngest child, was raised and educated under the loving care of his five older brothers and sisters....
It was in prison, ironically, that THONGBAI first achieved prominence as a lawyer. Among the political prisoners were seven other attorneys who, along with THONGBAI, immediately formed a legal aid team. They gave training and instruction in courtroom techniques to hundreds of political prisoners, because under martial law defendants in cases of suspicion of communism were tried in a military court where they did not have the right to a defense attorney. They also prepared appeals and statements, questions for defendants to ask witnesses at the trial and especially for communist detainees held three years in jail without trial "appeals for the court to investigate the holding of suspects by police in breach of law and human rights." In 1962 they succeeded in convincing the Supreme Court that Sarit's suspension of Article 87 was illegal. After four years of unjust imprisonment many suspects, including THONGBAI's colleagues, were released—all, that is, except THONGBAI....
The hearing dragged on for another four years, but under Thai law THONGBAI was able to leave jail when necessary to practice law and to defend his colleagues in court. He was adviser during this time to "many, many political cases." Finally in 1966 the military court informed him that it was ready to read the verdict, a verdict which he believed would inevitably prove their innocence. Were this to happen, their acquittal would prompt the criminal court to begin proceedings against the police and the military prosecutor, a prospect that was not at all agreeable to the latter. To avoid this, an attempt was made to persuade both THONGBAI and Thep to withdraw their case from the criminal court in return for which the military would withdraw charges. THONGBAI refused. "I wanted the verdict to be read," he says, "because I believed in our innocence."....
Finally the military found an offer he could not refuse; in exchange for the withdrawal of their case in criminal court, the military would drop charges, not only in this case, but in all three cases pending against Thep. Since these cases involved about 70 other equally innocent detainees, THONGBAI could not but agree. On July 9, 1966 he was released—after eight years of illegal detention.....
His reputation as a defender of human rights spread quickly, and in 1967 he was asked to advise two political prisoners—a teacher and a monk who were accused of plotting to assassinate the prime minister, Thanom Kittikhachorn, and deputy prime minister, Prapas Churusathira. Thanks to his assistance, the case was dismissed......
A COMPLETE BIOGRAPHY of Thongbai Thongpao CLICK