BANGKOK — Thaksin Shinawatra, the de facto leader of the Redshirt movement, has reportedly advised his supporters to refrain from interfering with the missions of the military junta that seized power from the Redshirt-allied government last year.
Thaksin, who served as Prime Minister from 2001 until he was ousted in a military coup in 2006, made the comment to a group of visitors at his residence in Beijing, China, over the New Year holiday, a source told Matichon.
The source, who was reportedly one of the visitors at Thaksin’s residence, said the former leader chose to celebrate the New Year in "low-key manner" with only close friends, relatives, and small number of politicians.
Thaksin reportedly told his visitors that he is concerned with the state of the economy in Thailand and its potential effects on low-income workers, such as farmers and labourers. Therefore, "capable people" must be allowed to work and solve the problems, Thaksin reportedly said.
"We have to let the military government work in the fullest way. Pheu Thai Party and Redshirts must not oppose it, because there are already serious problems right now," the source quoted Thaksin as saying. "If we cannot fix them, we will be accused of creating even more problems."
The majority of Redshirt activists and leaders have kept a low profile since the 22 May coup that ousted the government led by Thaksin’s sister, former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
After seizing power, the junta banned all political activities and detained hundreds of Redshirt activists, academics, and journalists in military camps for “attitude adjustment.” In order to secure their release, most detainees were forced to sign documents promising not to participate in any political activities.
Although Thaksin has lived in self-imposed exile since 2008 to avoid corruption convictions, he has remained a powerful player in Thai politics and the beloved leader of the Redshirt movement that formed after his ouster.
Thaksin, who is loathed by rival "Yellowshirt" activists as vehemently as he is loved by Redshirts, has not spoken publicly about politics since the coup.
Nearly eight months after the military takeover, the junta, formally known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), has maintained nationwide martial law and a ban on political protests.
The NCPO appointed an interim government last year to draft a new constitution and oversee a national reform effort. According to junta leaders, elections will be held after the reforms are completed in 2016 at the earliest.