Thaksin Shinawatra incarcerated in Bangkok Remand Prison


After a 15-year period of self-imposed exile, Thaksin Shinawatra, former Prime Minister, was swiftly arrested upon his return to Thailand and subsequently transferred to the Bangkok Remand Prison on August 22, 2023. The arrest marked the culmination of a tumultuous political journey for Thaksin Shinawatra, who is set to serve jail sentences for three separate convictions.

Within the vicinity of the prison, designated space was arranged for both reporters and supporters, anticipating Thaksin’s arrival. As Thaksin was ushered into the prison premises through its main gate, fervent red-shirt supporters voiced their resounding backing for him.

In the interim, information from the Corrections Department via media reports conveyed that Thaksin had been isolated within the hospital section of the Bangkok Remand Prison. This decision came after medical professionals diagnosed him with four coexisting health conditions.

Aryut Sintopphan, the director-general of the Corrections Department, made this announcement.

Aryut underscored the department’s commitment to Thaksin’s well-being during his prison term. He explained that arrangements would be made to allow relatives and supporters to visit Thaksin, necessitating the allocation of a specific building or space within the prison.

Given Thaksin’s advanced age—he turned 74 the previous month—the director-general emphasized the need for vigilant care to prevent any deterioration in his health during his period of detention. Aryut noted that Thaksin’s health had been examined by the prison hospital’s medical staff, who officially registered him as a new inmate.

Sitthi Sutheewong, deputy director-general of the Corrections Department, detailed that the prison hospital’s doctors identified several health issues afflicting Thaksin, warranting constant monitoring. Consequently, Thaksin was placed in Zone 7, a specialized area within the Bangkok Remand Prison’s hospital section, where he would receive around-the-clock medical supervision.

Thaksin’s health ailments encompass:

  • Ischemia, a cardiac condition necessitating regular administration of anti-blood-clotting medications.
  • Lingering lung complications stemming from a severe COVID infection, which have left him prone to fatigue.
  • Hypertension, requiring consistent medication to manage high blood pressure.
  • Degenerative spine conditions and herniated discs, adversely affecting his balance and mobility.

Meanwhile, Kriengkrai Thiennukul, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), expressed that Thaksin’s return marked a significant stride toward political reconciliation. For over a decade, Thailand had grappled with internal and external challenges, including political divisions, energy price volatility, inflation, and household debt.

The private sector welcomed this reconciliatory progression, anticipating positive economic momentum and the resolution of various challenges, such as economic hardships and global geopolitical dynamics.

While international trade faces its own set of factional complexities, energy price fluctuations, and inflation, domestic concerns, including household debt and poverty, necessitate collective efforts to address and surmount these issues, Kriengkrai stated.

Concurrently, on the day of Thaksin’s return, Thailand’s former deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, previously a leader of the now-disbanded People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), addressed the Supreme Court. Suthep refrained from commenting on Thaksin’s potential return earlier due to uncertainty regarding his engagement with the judicial system.

Suthep’s presence at the court was related to a malfeasance case tied to a police station construction project, in which he was ultimately acquitted.

Although he did not anticipate a direct encounter with Thaksin in court, Suthep emphasized that Thaksin’s decision to return and face the justice system was commendable and aligned with democratic principles.

Suthep extended his acknowledgment of Thaksin’s return, underlining that both of them shared the same birth year and month, as well as a history in politics. He further reiterated his respect for the democratic framework and the judicial process.

Highlighting the impact of the protests led by PDRC, which culminated in the 2014 coup against the government of Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, Suthep conveyed a message to Thaksin: “Believe me, no matter where you live, you won’t be happy even if you have billions or trillions of baht [if you are not home]”. He cautioned that any attempts to revive a government that exploits its power for vested interests could trigger renewed public demonstrations.

Thaksin Shinawatra: A pivotal figure in Thailand’s political landscape

Thaksin Shinawatra, a name that resonates deeply within Thailand’s political narrative, is arguably one of the most influential and polarizing figures in the country’s modern history. Born on July 26, 1949, Thaksin’s journey through the realms of business, politics, and governance has left an indelible mark on Thailand’s sociopolitical landscape.

Early life and business ventures

Thaksin’s ascendancy began with his prowess in the business world. Armed with an education in criminal justice and a doctorate in criminology from the United States, he ventured into the telecommunications industry. His creation of Shin Corporation, a telecom giant, not only established his financial standing but also solidified his position as a visionary entrepreneur.

Political entry and leadership

Thaksin’s transition from business magnate to political leader was swift and impactful. In 2001, he founded the Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party, introducing policies that appealed to rural constituencies, such as universal healthcare and rural economic development. His populist agenda won him widespread support, particularly among the rural poor who had long felt marginalized by the urban elite.

In 2001, Thaksin became the Prime Minister of Thailand, winning a landslide victory in the general elections. His charismatic leadership style and commitment to addressing social inequalities and economic disparities endeared him to many, earning him the moniker “Thaksinomics” for his approach to economic policies that favored the less privileged.

The polarizing figure

While Thaksin enjoyed immense popularity among a significant portion of the population, he simultaneously faced criticism and opposition from segments of society. His leadership was characterized by its confrontations with the judiciary, allegations of corruption, and concerns over an increasingly authoritarian governing style. As a result, protests against his government escalated, culminating in the controversial 2006 military coup that ousted him from power.

Exile and return

Following his ousting, Thaksin went into self-imposed exile to avoid legal proceedings. He spent years in various countries, but his influence on Thai politics remained undiminished. Thaksin’s supporters, known as the “Red Shirts”, championed his return to power, while opponents remained adamant about curbing his political influence.

In 2023, after 15 years of exile, Thaksin made a surprise return to Thailand, eliciting mixed reactions from the public and reigniting debates about his impact on the nation.

Legacy and impact

Thaksin’s legacy is marked by his ability to connect with the grassroots and enact policies that directly improved the lives of many Thais. His efforts to bridge socioeconomic gaps through infrastructure development and social welfare programs are widely acknowledged. However, his administration was also marred by allegations of corruption and abuse of power, leading to deep political divisions within the country.

As a political figure, Thaksin’s enduring popularity illustrates the complexities of Thai society. His supporters hail him as a champion of the downtrodden, while his detractors point to his authoritarian tendencies and perceived disregard for democratic institutions. The enduring divide he symbolizes underscores Thailand’s ongoing struggle to find a harmonious balance between democratic governance and effective leadership.

Thaksin Shinawatra’s journey from business magnate to political powerhouse is a testament to the intricacies of Thai politics and society. His legacy embodies the challenges and successes of a leader who stirred both hope and controversy among the Thai populace, leaving an indelible mark on the nation’s history.

Editorial Team of Blitz, the most influential anti-militancy newspaper in the world has congratulated Thaksin Shinawatra for his bold decision of returning to Thailand. The Editorial Team also wished him good health and long life.


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