September 22, 2023
BANGKOK – Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Thursday hinted that former leader Thaksin Shinawatra would get an advisory role in his government once he is out of prison.
Srettha said Thaksin would prove to be valuable to his administration and the country.
“I believe he has value to add to the government and to the people of Thailand,” the PM said during an interview with Bloomberg Television in New York.
He also pointed to the ex-leader’s huge popularity. “He was, and probably still is, the most popular prime minister in the history of Thai politics,” Srettha said.
“Obviously, that comes with good reasons and if he becomes free it would be unwise of me not to seek his opinion and that of other prime ministers as well,” he added.
However, the prime minister did not clearly state as to what role Thaksin would play in the new government. “Let’s play by ear,” Srettha said during his interview in New York.
Srettha, a property tycoon-turned-politician, acknowledged his political inexperience during his Bloomberg interview. But he dismissed any concerns about the stability of his coalition government. “I believe it is a very, very stable government,” he said.
Thaksin is regarded as the patriarch of the Pheu Thai Party. The founder of Pheu Thai’s predecessor Thai Rak Thai over two decades ago, the 74-year-old has retained huge influence over the current ruling party.
He served as prime minister from February 2001 to September 2006 before his government was ousted in a military coup.
Thaksin is serving jail sentences in multiple corruption cases following his return to Thailand after 15 years of self-imposed exile overseas. He reportedly was sent to Police General Hospital for treatment just hours after his return on a private jet on August 22.
Thaksin’s flight touched down in Bangkok just hours before Srettha was voted in Parliament as Thailand’s 30th prime minister. Srettha’s win was credited to huge support from the Senate, in an arrangement widely seen as part of a deal between Thaksin and the royalist pro-military establishment.
The ex-premier recently saw his eight-year jail term reduced to one year due to a royal pardon. His family is looking at the possibility of securing his early release on parole, possibly in February.