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Thaksin returns to Thailand after 17 months of exile, vowing to repair his reputation

Thaksin returns to Thailand after 17 months of exile, vowing to repair his reputation

Deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra returned Thursday from 17 months in exile to face corruption charges, receiving a hero's welcome from supporters and vowing to restore his reputation following his ouster in a coup.
Police briefly took the 58-year-old billionaire into custody after he arrived at Bangkok's international airport on a Thai Airways flight from Hong Kong, and brought him before a top court where he was immediately released on bail.
While he could face up to 15 years behind prison bars, Thaksin's return was a triumphant re-entry to the center stage of Thai politics despite efforts by the country's most powerful institutions, including the military, to eradicate his legacy and keep him at bay.
"The case of Thaksin is very unique in Thailand's political history. He is the first to have been toppled by a coup and come back in full glory. Those who toppled him became a joke," said Charnvit Kasetsiri, a historian from Bangkok's Thammasat University.
Thaksin has pledged to stay out of politics, but his critics don't believe him and say he already has been exerting influence from behind the scenes.
"Thaksin's real intention is not merely to fight charges in court. We believe he returned to restore his power," said Suriyasai Katasila of the People's Alliance for Democracy, whose protests against the former prime minister culminated in the Sept. 19, 2006 coup toppling him.
Just hours after arriving, Finance Minister Surapong Suebwonglee said that government would consult Thaksin, who is legally banned from all political activity for five years, for economic advice.
"We can't appoint him to any official position, but we'll ask him for advice on the economy," Surapong told reporters.
"I don't want to be involved in politics any longer. I want to live peacefully with my family and die in this motherland," Thaksin told a news conference at a luxury hotel, where he was flanked by family members.
He said he did not return to Thailand after the coup in order to allow for healing in the country. But following the recent general election and return to democracy, "I have to come back to restore my reputation and fight for justice in court."
Thaksin held the news conference at Bangkok's riverside Peninsula Hotel, where he had booked a penthouse suite that features a private fitness room and butler's quarters for $3,300 (


Updated : 2021-06-13 20:27 GMT+08:00