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Old controversy

February 28, 2013

THE issue of Thaksin Shinawatra’s passport has resurfaced, with the potential to cause even more trouble in our already deeply divided society. …A storm might be brewing already for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who sooner rather than later will have to respond to another inquiry involving her older brother.

Another dilemma looms. …The parliamentary ombudsmen have concluded that the foreign ministry’s issuance of a new passport to Thaksin Shinawatra last year was wrong and … have asked Yingluck to step in and do something. She might be able to delay her decision, but the issue will not go away. A lack of response from Yingluck, or her cabinet, or the Pheu Thai-dominated parliament, could prompt the ombudsmen to turn to the Administrative Court. Once there, what now looks merely like a political firecracker could become a tinderbox. …Thaksin’s Thai passport is as much about pride as it is about travel convenience. His fight for “justice” is as much about perception as it is about legality. But again, accommodating Thaksin is threatening to cost Yingluck a big political price. It seems that Thaksin cannot be rejuvenated without his sister looking weaker. Some argue that the “Thaksin line” has been crossed many times already to Yingluck’s advantage. The government has never been held legally accountable for frequent contacts between its office holders and the fugitive former prime minister.

A senior police official has even openly put up Thaksin’s photo in his office, daring anyone to initiate legal action over his admiration for the man. The line is getting more blurred as leading countries welcome Thaksin as a VIP guest. …—(Feb 26)