Self-exiled former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra criticized a court ruling last week that complicated efforts by his allies to change the constitution, and called for talks over his return.
The Constitutional Court on July 13 said a referendum was needed before a charter ratified after the 2006 coup that ousted Thaksin could be rewritten. The party of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin’s sister, will “digest” the ruling before deciding how to move forward, he said.
The decision “shows what we call judicial overreach,” Thaksin said in a television interview on Singapore’s Channel NewsAsia. “It’s against the rule of the separation of powers,” which is central to democracy.
Thaksin’s allies are weighing whether to defy the court and press ahead with a vote to overhaul the constitution during the next parliamentary session that starts on Aug. 1. Yingluck’s party wants to reduce the power of appointed bodies it says are undermining elected governments to serve the interest of royalists who backed the coup.
“Those who benefit from full-fledged democracy want to bring it back,” Thaksin said. “Those who fear democracy may be developed too far resist it. That’s the root cause of the problem.”
Thaksin has lived overseas since fleeing a jail sentence in 2008 on charges stemming from a military-appointed panel. Thailand’s parliament is considering a broad amnesty for political offenses since the coup, a move that could overturn the two-year sentence he has avoided by remaining overseas.
It may also undo a court ruling that led to the seizure of about $1.5 billion of Thaksin’s fortune in 2010, two weeks before his supporters began protests that led to more than 90 deaths and ended in a military crackdown. Thaksin’s opponents have vowed to resist the initiatives in parliament, saying they undermine the rule of law.
Thaksin said his return to Thailand would depend on when reconciliation occurs. His enemies have turned him into “Dracula” in part because parties backed by him have won the past five elections, including one last year, he said.
“It’s time to face and talk,” Thaksin said in the interview. “We can speak Thai together, we can talk open heart. What do you want? What do you worry about?”
To contact the reporters on this story: Daniel Ten Kate in Bangkok at firstname.lastname@example.org; Ann Koh in Singapore at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Brinsley at firstname.lastname@example.org