Elections are set to be held sometime in early 2019 for the Southeast Asian Kingdom of Thailand.
The nation has struggled with political instability since former police colonel-turned-billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra came to power in 2001. Two military coups, one in 2006 and another in 2014, have unfolded in attempt to remove Shinawatra and his political party from power after indulging in unprecedented corruption, abuse of power and human rights violations.
Shinawatra, his sister who sat as prime minister for him from 2011 to 2014 and several other prominent members of his political party now reside abroad in Europe and the United Arab Emirates. Shinawatra and his political allies have repeatedly used violence as a tool to seize back power, resulting in headline-grabbing episodes of bloodshed in 2009, 2010 and again in 2014.
Key to Shinawatra’s political staying power is the immense support he receives from the United States, Europe and their collective influence over global media. Returning Shinawatra to power and pivoting Bangkok away from its growing ties to Beijing and back toward Wall Street and Washington has been a major priority of the US State Department and its functionaries in Southeast Asia for now nearly two decades.
“Pro-Democracy Forces” Represent a Fugitive and his Foreign Sponsors
Thaksin Shinawatra lives abroad to evade multiple arrest warrants, myriad pending criminal cases and a criminal conviction coupled with a two year jail sentence handed down by Thai courts. His status as a fugitive clearly bars him from running for or holding public office.
Despite this restriction he still openly runs Thailand’s main opposition party, Pheu Thai. Fearing that Pheu Thai may be disbanded for this very fact before next year’s elections, it appears he had created a multitude of other parties to create a front he hopes to use to win elections and restore himself to power.
This includes billionaire heir Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit’s Future Forward Party which has repeatedly denied any ties to Thaksin Shinawatra despite Thanathorn himself admitting during an FCCT event that he had previously supported Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai Party in 2011 and participated in Shinawatra’s various, deadly “red shirt” street protests. Also relevant is Thanathorn’s uncle working as a senior minister in Shinawatra’s previous governments and Thanathorn’s family owning the notoriously pro-Shinawatra Matichon Media Group which includes the Matichon and Khaosod newspapers.