ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
February 29, 2008
Thailand's ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, repeating his intention to refrain from politics, announced Thursday he would spend his time back in the country fighting charges against him and restoring his tarnished reputation, Thai News Agency reported.
Flanked by his wife Pojaman and three children, Thaksin told a press conference at the luxurious Peninsula Hotel that he felt disheartened to have his fingerprints taken before the authorities as if he was a "vital criminal," before was escorted by police to the Supreme Court.
About $2.1 billion in assets belonging to him and his family have been frozen until his name is cleared.
He was swiftly released on bail and told a news conference that he had "come back to restore my reputation and fight for justice in court."
A trial was set for March 12 and Thaksin was barred from leaving the country without the court's permission.
Thaksin then proceeded to the attorney general's office where he was also freed on bail in a second case in which he and his wife are accused of concealing ownership of shares in SC Asset, the family's real estate holding company. A hearing on whether Thaksin would be indicted was set for April 3.
He disclosed that he wanted to return to his homeland the next day after the September 19, 2006 coup but the situation was far from normal at that time.
The deposed premier called on anyone who has been worried about his political rivalry or revenge to take it easy for he has decided to live a peaceful and constructive life.
"I'm 59 years old and life is not that long," said the former prime minister. "My utmost desire is to spend a happy life with my family. I want to work for charity and sports"
However, there are skeptics who doubt this.
Hours after Thaksin arrived from Hong Kong, the finance minister announced that the government would consult him for economic advice.
Opponents warn a new political role for Thaksin could renew the deep tensions that provoked mass demonstrations before his ouster.
Thaksin apologised to well-wishers at the airport for not stopping by to talk to them because "I didn't feel comfortable with the security system."
He added that he wanted Thailand to be back on its own feet given the mounting economic concerns the country has been encountering, whether the subprime crisis or the rising oil prices.
Mr. Thaksin and his family later moved to a luxury suite at the Peninsula where they would stay overnight. It was reported that he has booked 11 rooms, each Bt106,000 ($ 3,312) a night, on the 33rd-35th floors.