Jakrapob at the FCCT
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Jakrapob at the FCCT

UPDATE: Observer has some comments on Jakrapob’s talk at New Mandala.

Jakrapob Penkair, a former deputy chief of staff to Thaksin, spoke at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand last night. He had a number of controversial things to say as the Bangkok Post reports:

“Right after the coup of September 19, 2006, we planned to launch a government in exile but a telephone call from Bangkok changed all that,” Jakrapob Penkair, a former deputy chief of staff to premier Thaksin, told the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand Wednesday night.

Thaksin, Thailand’s controversial populist prime minister between 2001 to 2006, was deposed by a coup while he was in New York attending the United Nations General Assembly.

“It was not him who came up with the idea of a government in exile,” said Jakrapob. “It came from some of us, including me.”

Jakrapob claimed that Thaksin’s loyalists informally approached several countries to see if they would endorse a government in exile “and they said they would.”

But Thaksin nixed the notion after he received a telephone call from a mysterious person in Bangkok, whom Jakrapob refused to name, and flew to London where he has remained in self-exile since.

“When the crucial decision came, even he made the decision based on the patronage system,” Jakrapob told correspondents in a prepared speech on “democracy versus patronage” in Thailand.

COMMENT: Fortunately, I knew some people who were there.

On the caller mentioned in the article above, given Jakrapob’s willingness to criticise Prem on numerous occasions, if the caller was Prem, why would he refuse to name him? I think it is possible to infer that the person who called Thaksin was not Prem, but someone aside from Prem in the “patronage system” who Jakrapob was unwilling to name. Unless, he confirms on the record, we will never know.

Jakrapob gave an interesting presentation looking at the relationship between the patronage system (principally the monarchy) and democracy in Thailand. Some interesting tidbits were:
-Jakrapob stated that the civil servant in the three party conversation over the Election Commission jailing actually taped the conversation himself. He seemed quite happy for the authorities to try to prosecute him as it would give him a chance to face Prem in court -he was quite animated here.
-the interference/campaign against Thaksin started just his victory in the 2005 General Election
-Thaksin never intended to directly challenge the “patronage system”, it happened by accident rather than by design. He suggested that Thaksin was rather surprised by the backlash when it came.
-He criticised Sondhi, of Manager Group fame, for his accusing Thaksin of not being loyal to the Monarch over the Temple of Emerald Buddha incident saying that even after the Lord Chamberlain had rebutted the accusations that Sondhi did not stop [BP: Others have rebutted the accusations, but I can’t find a reference to the Lord Chamberlain so this was interesting].

At some random points, he inserted some bizarre allegations. Two examples:
– he alleged that one of the judges in that phone call had a sexual relationship with Prem [revenge for all the rumours about Jakrapob?]
– he randomly stated that some politicians were wife-beaters

Jakrapob was asked a number of questions and well like a politician he didn’t really give a straight answer to most questions. He seemed a bit Prem-obssessed at times. For example, he said he was sent to “Prem’s jail” and they went to Prem’s house to bring Prem out of his house. It was a bit Prem this and Prem that.