UPDATE: For what it is worth, since putting up the post, BP has heard from a diplomatic source who has good access to information and has provided reliable information which has proven accurate in the past that there were definitely three parties to the talks and that this includes the palace. Talks were mentioned as ongoing.
BP: Again, will everyone stick to the agreement? What about those who were not part of the agreement?
Shawn Crispin of Asia Times Online has previously written about a behind-the-scenes arrangement between Thaksin and the establishment that allowed Thaksin to get his money back – see BP’s post – and now Cripin has a new article about a new deal. Key excerpts:
According to sources familiar with the dialogue, Thaksin interlocutor Wattana Muangsook, Queen Sirikit’s lady-in-waiting Jarungjit Thikara and Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan met in Brunei in February to discuss post-poll scenarios. There have been subsequent meetings between the three camps, including one in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, according to the same sources.
The talks have aimed to avoid new confrontation and foster reconciliation …between Thaksin’s camp and at least one section of the royalist establishment…
According to a source familiar with the talks, the military has agreed to allow Puea Thai to form a new elected government unopposed in exchange for a vow from Thaksin not to pursue political revenge or legal prosecutions of top military officials behind the 2006 coup and last year’s crackdown, and to refrain broadly from intervening in military affairs, including the annual reshuffle that determines the army’s leadership.
To put reconciliation efforts on a new track, the three sides to the secret dialogue have discussed the formation of a new independent commission whose recommendations, including a potential amnesty for Thaksin, Abhisit and the military, would eventually be put to a national referendum. Surakiart Sathirathai, a foreign minister under Thaksin and known royalist through his family connections, has apparently been agreed to lead the panel.
BP: Crispin later comments in the article on whether the deal will hold up post-election – see the article for more. Crispin’s article has created a stir in Thailand.
The first mention was on the front page of Thai Post referring to it as the Brunei declaration (ปฏิญญาบรูไน). It roughly summarizes parts of Crispin’s article although only mentions that two parties met, Prawit and Wattana, although later in the translated summary of the article refers to “three parties”….
BP: Not relevant to mention that the Queen’s lady-in-waiting was also a participant? Now, can understand the sensitivity, but you can’t just remove the name of the parties from a story and then run it because it changes the whole nature of the story. There is a big difference between a military-Thaksin deal and a military-Thaksin-whoever the Queen’s lady-in-waiting was representing deal*.
Suthichai Yoon of The Nation wrote a blog post commenting on the Thai Post story, but he also only mentions Prawit and Wattana. ASTV Manager also reports on the story, but only mentions Prawit and Wattana.
There have been quite a few denials, Matichon reports Wattana (the Thaksin interloctur) as denying that he met Prawit for the Brunei declaration or any other agreement, but admits that he gone there to meet Thaksin (ตนไม่เคยพบกับ พล.อ.ประวิตร วงษ์สุวรรณ รัฐมนตรีว่าการกระทรวงกลาโหม ตามที่ข่าวปรากฏว่า มีการพบกันเพื่อทำปฏิญญาบรูไน หรือทำข้อตกลงอะไรทั้งสิ้น ส่วนประเทศบรูไนนั้น ยอมรับว่าเคยเดินทางไปพบ พ.ต.ท.ทักษิณ ชินวัตร).
BP: That is a fairly strong denial. One part of Crispin’s story that doesn’t make initial sense is that Thaksin himself can travel to Brunei and is based in Dubai, so why wasn’t he directly involved? Okay, he has his business interests, but it is not as though he doesn’t have free time. On the other hand, some people like to send a representative if others are sending their representatives for reasons of plausible deniability…
The same article also has Yingluck stating that the news is just a rumour because she does not have knowledge of the details, but affirms that Thaksin is not involved with politics (เรื่องดังกล่าวคงเป็นแค่ข่าวลือ เพราะตนยังไม่ทราบรายละเอียด แต่ยืนยันว่า พ.ต.ท.ทักษิณไม่ยุ่งเกี่ยวกับการเมือง).
BP: That logic of that denial is so circular so give no credence to it. Just because you don’t have knowledge it doesn’t mean it is a rumour. Similarly, Thaksin is involved in politics.
Another Matichon article also quotes Surakiart as stating that he feels strange by the story and he wants to deny the news of an agreement to establish a reconciliation committee and that he had agreed to be the chairman. He says it is not true at all and that he has not met with the people in the story (รู้สึกแปลกใจมาก ขอปฏิเสธว่า ข่าวการตกลงตั้งคณะกรรมการปรองดอง ที่ตนเองตอบรับเป็นประธานแล้วนั้นไม่เป็นความจริงโดยสิ้นเชิง ตนเองไม่เคยไปพบกับบุคคลใดๆตามข่าว).
BP: Crispin’s article never states that Surakiart has met with anyone….
1. Have no doubts over the initial deal that gave access to Thaksin’s money.
2. Heard a few weeks ago about a deal and that all sides were on board, but did not hear specifics over any meetings or participants. Just that there was a deal. Nothing about what BP heard contradicts anything in Crispin’s story. Heard since Crispin’s story from a different person of “talking”.
3. There is no mention in the article on whether there was any deal about the actions between the parties pre-election, i.e. per the Bangkok Post story by Wassana:
And even if it can achieve that, the next stumbling block will be the “red cards” which could reduce the number of its seats in parliament. Soldiers under the Isoc and Task Force 315 sent to several areas across the country are gathering evidence of vote-buying and any violation of the election law. All information will be forwarded to the Election Commission to punish candidates if they win the contest fraudulently.
But many key figures in Pheu Thai want to see Gen Prayuth out of his present position because of his lack of neutrality in this election. Those subscribing to this idea believe that this year presents the only chance to move him out of the most powerful position in the army. This is because Supreme Commander Songkitti Jaggabatara will be retiring at the end of September. If the army picks the joint chief-of-staff of the armed forces, Gen Tanasak Patimapkorn , to succeed Gen Songkitti, he will stay in that position until 2014. Both Gen Prayuth and Gen Tanasak belong to Class 12 of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School.
BP: That does not even include Prayuth going on TV to say that Thais should vote for good people (i.e not Puea Thai and presumably Democrat-coalition friendly, corruption-free politicians like good Newin’s crew)
4. As Crispin notes, Thaksin’s position will be enhanced if Puea Thai wins a majority and not just a plurality. The relevance to this is that back in February and in meetings since then, the outcome of this election was very much open. Puea Thai was not in such a strong position that they were now.
Again, a deal makes perfect sense, but the Thai political crisis involves as the US Embassy put it in a cable that “decisions will probably not, in the end, be driven by rational calculations”.
5. If the military are absolved of all responsibility, how will many red shirts react? For those who think the entire red shirt apparatus is directed by Thaksin, you are mistaken. Reds upcountry are quite indifferent to the red shirt leadership and Thaksin. Nevertheless, if all reds are released from prison – just reading articles you can see anger over relatives being stuck in prison – and the charges dismissed as part of the amnesty then maybe.
6. What does the amnesty for Thaksin include? There is no way that Thaksin will willingly serve two years in jail, but would he give up the money seized and the chance to run again. An amnesty could easily be written to exclude the return of monies seized and that those convicted of crimes are not qualified for a political position etc. (Thaksin can exert control from the outside via his influence and family members anyway). If Thaksin had been willing to pay tax/donate a large sum of money back in 2006, this would have significantly reduced the weight of the PAD protests. It wasn’t until the Shin Corp deal that teh anti-Thaksin movement really gained momentum.
*Of course, only a hater of all good things that Thailand stands for would draw any conclusions over who one of the sides was representing….