Friday, November 13, 2009

Excerpts from the interview: 'If I breathe, I am seen as wrong'

BANGKOK POST: Already strained relations between Thailand and Cambodia took a turn for the worse when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen appointed fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as his government's and his own economic adviser.

After delivering a speech on economic issues to Cambodian officials in Phnom Penh yesterday, Thaksin talked to a small group of Thai journalists for the first time since his controversial appointment. Bangkok Post reporter ANUCHA CHAROENPO was among the group. The following are excerpts from the interview:

The Thai government views you as the main cause of the continuing conflict between the two countries. What is your comment?

The government must look at itself first [as to] who is responsible [for the conflict].

The government appointed the one [Kasit Piromya] as foreign minister. He attacked Prime Minister Hun Sen. Can I ask how he can build good relations with Cambodia?

After your appointment, the Thai government said it would revoke all memorandums of understanding signed between the two countries. What do you think?

I think how childish it [the government] is. Does the government think about the nation's benefits? I am not involved in it and have no duty. I have no problems about it. Today I have a duty to do anything that will greatly benefit the two countries. I accepted the position because I want to help our two countries, which have the same synergy. It is no longer the cold war. This is not a zero sum game that for us to prosper our neighbour has to lose. The two countries must work together for the future.

There are accusations being made against you in Thailand that you are betraying the nation. How do you feel?

It isn't true. These people [in the government] have a duty to accuse me of doing this and that. They feel that everything is my fault. [If I] just breathe I am viewed as doing the wrong thing.

Since your appointment, it seems some people in Thailand have tried to stir up nationalism.

Have you ever watched the American movie Wag The Dog in 1997 starring Robert De Niro? The movie was about the United States's economic problems. The US government diverted people's attention by creating a war instead of solving the problems.

This is like the [Thai] government today. They just want to divert people's attention from widespread corruption and their failure to solve the country's problems by blowing this issue out of proportion. I see that today Thailand must keep moving forward. Don't sink the country for politics.

Many polls in the country show that since your appointment, the [Thai] government's popularity has grown as it promotes the nationalist cause. What is your view?

Really? If it's true, please dissolve the House now and call a general election. Abhisit is not a dignified prime minister because he used many committees to help him and his government to rise to power while the largest party [Puea Thai] had to become the opposition.

If Abhisit dissolves the House, calls a general election and wins it, he will then be a dignified prime minister.

Before your appointment, you appointed Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh as Puea Thai chairman to contact foreign leaders to pressure the Thai government. What is the aim?

I swear I have never ordered him to visit foreign countries. Everything he does is part of his own plan. I have no involvement. I think it's normal for him to visit foreign leaders in neighbouring countries because he has had good relations with them.

He was an army commander-in-chief and initiated the 66/23 Order to solve the problem of communism in the three Muslim-dominated provinces.

And now that he has a chance to come back to politics again, he must do anything he thinks will help.

As for your criminal case, when will you come back to fight it?

I think this case is politically motivated and I will return to Thailand when an opportunity comes to me.

What is the political future of Puea Thai, and your own future?

The political future of Puea Thai is still a long way off but, as for me, I am still uncertain.

If I have to choose, I would rather lead a peaceful life. I will make a comeback to politics if I have no more choices.

Are you nervous about the government's extradition treaty?

No, because there are no such cases in foreign countries. The foreign countries understand what is happening.

[How long do] you think the government will stay in power?

Everything depends on benefits. If the benefits are shared equally, surely the government can stay longer.

No comments: