Thailand’s hotly contested elections on Sunday, March 24, has drawn various responses all over the world, but a particularly pointed one from former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Mr Thaksin did not only pen an opinion piece for the New York Times entitled “The Election in Thailand Was Rigged,” but he has also given interviews to Singapore’s Straits Times, The Washington Post, the Nikkei Asian Review, among others.
In the New York Times, Mr Thaksin started by expressing his surprise concerning how far the military junta has gone to “manipulate the general election” in order to remain in power.
He drew attention to the fact that on the night of the polls, the election commission suddenly stopped publishing the results, saying they would be announced the following day.
However, even by Monday night, no results had been announced. He wrote, “I don’t think there has ever been such a delay in Thailand’s modern history. The junta clearly is afraid.”
Mr Thaksin pointed out the anomalies concerning the number of ballots versus the number of voters, mismatched results from the election commission and officials at the polling stations, the large number of invalidated ballots, and the wrongly-marked ballots that were nevertheless counted for the party linked to the military, Palang Pracharat.
According to Mr Thaksin, the election commission itself deserves a ‘red card’ for wrongdoing.
He wrote, “The junta appointed the election commission and has interfered with the work of what are supposed to be independent agencies and institutions. It wrote a new, very tricky and self-serving Constitution. Thailand can’t seem to change its outdated criminal laws or even car-registration regulations, but it rewrites its Constitution often.
Whether or not the junta’s leaders now allow the pro-democracy parties to form a government, they will find a way to stay in charge. They have no shame, and they want to be in power no matter what.”
However, he insisted that his piece was not about favouring one party over another, but “It’s about Thailand not losing.”
He ended his opinion piece with, “More than anything, Thailand should have a government that reflects the will of the people, not the will of the junta. This is a terrible, and sad, moment for my country.
In the interview with the Straits Times, Mr Thaksin was asked if he believes the election had been free and fair.
He answered, “No, no. You know, in any games, if the rules of the games, the referees are not fair, then the results will not be respected. This is even worse because if we in Thailand have… a government that comes from a rigged election, the international (community) will not respect it.”
With the Washington Post, Mr Thaksin surmised what he believes the military wants, which is to “continue their power for the next 20 years.”
He found that he could not explain how Palang Pracharat could have won in a fair election, and said that the anomalies that had occurred was what the military planned all along.
He cited the “irregularities which never happened before in the previous election.” He added that “That was the intention,” referring to the military.
With the Nikkei Asian Review, Mr Thaksin expressed his fears for the future of democracy in his country. In a telephone interview he said, “If Palang Pracharat forms the next government, they will try everything and every way to stay [in power] longer.
He added, “They will file cases against other parties they don’t like or issue threats as they have done to stay on.”
He reiterated how Palang Pracharat gained an advantage through “election rigging because in some places there were more ballots [cast] than registered votes.”
He also underlined how certain forces in the country wanted to keep the junta in power. “They are a rich party now and have the backing of the Bangkok elite.”