Thai king strips fugitive ex-PM Thaksin of royal decorations

Clockwise from left: Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit. (AFP / Lillian Suwa)
Updated 31 March 2019
0

Thai king strips fugitive ex-PM Thaksin of royal decorations

  • Thaksin became prime minister in 2001 but was ousted by a 2006 military coup
  • A military coup in also kicked out Thaksin’s sister Yingluck Shinawatra as PM in 2014

BANGKOK: Thailand’s king has stripped fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of his royal decorations, citing his 2008 flight to escape serving a two-year prison term on a conflict of interest conviction and other legal cases against him.
Thai media reported that the royal command from King Maha Vajiralongkorn was published Saturday in the Royal Gazette.
The move follows a March 24 general election in which a party loyal to Thaksin claimed it won enough seats to form a coalition that would hold a majority in the House of Representatives. Final certified results will not be issued until May 9, and the Election Commission has warned there could be some disqualifications by then.
Last week, a military award Thaksin has been given was revoked by the army, with the explanation that he failed to deserve the honor.
Vajiralongkorn on election eve had issued a statement urging voters to select “good people” for public office, a message taken as implicit support for Thaksin’s opponents, mainly the military-backed Palang Pracharath Party, which won the highest number of popular votes.
Thaksin, a billionaire with populist policies, became prime minister in 2001 but was ousted by a 2006 military coup. Abuse of power and disrespect for the monarchy were two of the accusations that were offered as justification for the coup.
The army staged another coup in 2014 against a government that had been formed by Thaksin’s sister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was forced out of office on a controversial charge, later found guilty of negligence in her duties, and also fled into exile.
The 2014 coup was led by then-army commander Prayuth Chan-ocha, who has been junta chief and prime minister since then, and is the candidate of Palang Pracharath Party.
The 2006 coup set off a sometimes violent struggle for power between Thaksin’s supporters and opponents, and pro-Thaksin parties staged several comebacks even though the military and other royalists have tried to dismantle his political machine.
These include changes in the constitution and election laws under the military government that were meant to handicap parties loyal to Thaksin.
The hostility of royalists toward Thaksin has been evident since he was in office, though was never expressed directly by members of the royal family, including Vajiralongkorn’s father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in 2016. The royal family by tradition is above politics.
Vajiralongkorn’s older sister, Princess Ubolratana, caused an uproar in February when the pro-Thaksin Thai Raksa Chart Party registered her as its nominee for prime minister. The move was initially seen as a clever ploy by Thaksin’s political machine to immunize itself against charges that it opposed the monarchy. It backfired badly when the king declared it inappropriate and unconstitutional, and the party was dissolved by the courts before the election, hurting the pro-Thaksin forces.
Princess Ubolratana, however, made a high-profile appearance at the wedding reception of one of Thaksin’s daughters in Hong Kong just two days before the election. Photos and video of the event showed Thaksin welcoming her warmly.
Thailand’s monarchy is protected by strong lese majeste laws that make whatever is judged defamatory of the royal family punishable by three to 15 years’ imprisonment.


Duterte ‘seriously considering’ cutting ties with Iceland over UN rights probe

Updated 16 July 2019
0

Duterte ‘seriously considering’ cutting ties with Iceland over UN rights probe

  • Iceland spearheaded a resolution that asked the UN’s top human rights body to look into the Philippines' deadly anti-drug crackdown
  • Philippine police have killed more than 6,600 suspected drug dealers in sting operations since Duterte took office in 2016.

MANILA: The Philippine president is “seriously considering” cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland, which spearheaded a resolution that asked the UN’s top human rights body to look into the thousands of deaths of suspects under his anti-drug crackdown.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters late Monday that the Iceland-initiated resolution which was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in a vote last week in Geneva showed “how the Western powers are scornful of our sovereign exercise of protecting our people from the scourge of prohibited drugs.”
Panelo says President Rodrigo Duterte “is seriously considering cutting diplomatic relations with Iceland” for initiating the “grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow, and maliciously partisan” resolution.
Human rights groups, however, have lauded the resolution as crucial to helping end the drug killings and bringing perpetrators to justice.
The Philippines’ highest-ranking lawmaker said on Monday a UN resolution to probe the country’s bloody war on drugs should be ignored, and its chief backer Iceland be investigated instead for human rights abuses in allowing abortion.
“They have more unborn babies that they have aborted or killed. There are more killings in abortion than the drug pushers who are fighting the police,” Senate President Vicente Sotto told ANC news channel.
The Nordic nation lacks moral grounds to lecture the Philippines on human rights, Sotto said. “So we should disregard that resolution.”
His remarks are the latest in a series of comments from lawmakers urging the government to not cooperate after the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday adopted Iceland’s resolution to investigate thousands of deaths under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign.
Police have killed more than 6,600 suspected drug dealers in sting operations since Duterte took office in 2016. Critics and rights group said authorities summarily execute suspects, which the police deny.
“The criminals can fight back, the babies cannot. What human rights are they talking about?” Sotto said, adding that drug dealers that fight back and destroy families lose their human rights.
His comments about abortion echoed those made by incoming Senator Imee Marcos, the daughter of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Rights groups, which hailed the UN vote as a step toward accountability, point out that the bloody anti-narcotics campaign is marked by systematic cover-ups, planted evidence and impunity.
The president’s spokesman on Monday warned countries not to meddle with the state’s affairs.
“All incidents in the war on drugs are tallied, recorded. All they have to do is ask us, not to pre-judge us,” presidential spokesman Spokesman Panelo told a regular news conference. “It behoves them to render respect to a sovereign state.”
Duterte on Friday mocked Iceland as an ice-eating nation without understanding of his country’s problems.