BANGKOK — Twelve years to the day after a military coup overthrew the government of Thaksin Shinawatra, a top junta official Wednesday blamed the ensuing years of political strife on the now-exiled former prime minister.
Defense Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan pinned the past dozen years of unrest on Thaksin in comments to reporters Wednesday, 12 years after the military deposed his administration while he was out of the country and dissolved the parliament.
“Whose fault is it that our country is in such chaos nowadays? It’s not because of us, for sure, because it has nothing to do with us. We came out to fix the problems in the country,” Prawit said. “Thaksin talks of reconciliation, but he’s still breaking the law. He should clear that part up first.”
Though he’s lived in self-imposed exile following a 2008 corruption conviction, Thaksin remains a political force despite the junta’s best efforts to uproot his influence. Prawit’s comments this morning came in reply to Thaksin breaking his relative silence to commemorate the 2006 coup online last night.
“Today I wish all of us could for a moment, put ourself [sic] in the right frame of mind without any prejudice and seriously ask ourself whether since 12 years until now, Thailand has any much progress,” 69-year-old Thaksin wrote in English on his son Panthongtae “Oak” Shinawatra‘s page and Thai on his own.
“On this 12th years anniversary I wish to openly express my deepest sadness on what has happened to Thailand. Apart from what I had suffered personally from having lost the warmth and happiness of my family and the days that we, as mother, father and children used to warmly enjoy together as to now we have to live apart, I am saddened every time when those who love me and support me are bullied and unfairly persecuted,” Thaksin wrote.
Though it has been unable to silence Thaksin, the military government seems intent on keeping a lid on domestic social media for now and has even floated the idea of a ban on campaigning online before February’s possible election.
Prawit said today that although the junta’s politicking ban has been partially lifted for some organizing activities, campaigning remains prohibited until December – a prohibition that includes social media.
“Using social media is like talking. The Election Commission will consider which parties are using social media platforms to campaign and will be prosecuted according to the law,” the defense minister and junta second-in-command said.