BURNING ISSUE
PM could do something to shake off Thaksin-proxy image
By Budsarakham Sinlapalavan
The Nation


Although prime minister Somchai Wongsawat is a brother-in-law of convicted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, he said on his first day in office that he's nobody's proxy.

PM could do something to shake off Thaksin-proxy image

Nevertheless, as time passes, his actions and words are raising more and more doubt about whom he truly serves.

Every time there's some news about Thaksin, Somchai the PM would try to evade answering any question or pretend not to be interested. "It's just about one man, why should we be interested," he would say, again and again.

But perhaps Somchai has forgotten that the man is also a convicted criminal running away from justice. Somchai is well aware however that it's hard for him to win, no matter how he speaks about Thaksin.

Some academics regard this as a self-preservation strategy.

Scholars like Sukhum Nualsakul, former rector of Ramkhamhaeng University believes that in fact Somchai is very interested about what's happening to his brother-in-law.

But so far, Somchai has kept people guessing and has even refused to comment about Thaksin's recent controversial phone-in from abroad to his supporters.

Jaet Thonawanik, dean of the law faculty at Siam University, believes that Somchai should be judged by his actions and not his words when it comes to the issue.

The government's failure to revoke Thaksin's diplomatic passport is the clearest answer so far and indicates that in fact Somchai is Thaksin's so-called "nominee," said Jaet.

As for National Institute of Development Admnistration (NIDA) president Sombat Thamrongtanyawong, he believes that Somchai can say whatever he likes but he became prime minister simply because of Thaksin.

"His actions cannot hide what he has been doing for Thakin. I want people to look at Somchai's actions more than his words," Sombat proposed.

Looking back, it's not hard to imagine why it was Somchai who was selected by the party after Samak Sundaravej was disqualified for hosting a cooking show - it's perhaps because his wife; Yaowapa, provides the most direct link to Thaksin as she is Thaksin's sister.

Nevertheless, Somchai has been haunted by questions about Thaksin from early on, starting when Thaksin's initially fled to London but the premier's response was to say it has nothing to do with him. The same went with the issue of diplomatic passport and most recently, the revocation of visa to Britain for both Thaksin and his wife.

"It's about a former premier isn't it and Britain considers the matter their internal affair. So I guess we won't be doing anything," he said.

As for the diplomatic passport, the PM was quoted as saying: "Let us concentrate on the income of people. Other matters can be pursued later and it's not a big deal."

Even when Thaksin's phone-in risked committing contempt to court and possible lese majeste, Somchai continued to pretend not to have to do with anything.

All these can't bode well for a man trying to shake off the image of being a proxy of Thaksin. And if Somchai is sincere in trying to shake off such image, the first thing he can do today is to revoke Thaksin and his wife's diplomatic passport.

That will clear the air somewhat.