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Over the past two years as Prime Minister, I have been trying to keep you informed to elicit your participation and help you to understand my mission. Nonetheless, I have tried to avoid touching on political events which are highly sensitive as I do not want to exacerbate the current strife. But as misinformation has been spread by some media, I feel the urge to write this record for the benefit of all of you who are very soon going to decide the fate of this country.

Phase 1. A Political Twist: My Path toward the Premiership

After losing the elections in late 2007, I vowed to become one of the best opposition leaders in Parliament. Becoming Prime Minister was not at all in my mind, not until the next election. But the situation became shaky when PM Samak proposed constitutional amendments to give an amnesty to Lt. Col. Thaksin Shinawatra. This stirred up very strong opposition from people who did not want politicians to be accorded such extra-legal privileges. They were angered by the idea of using a political majority to have a law promulgated to exonerate politicians from criminal offences, including corruption. Such an act would only make people lose faith in the justice system and the highly revered democracy with the king as head of state.

Many suspected that there was collusion between the Democrats and the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD). I have been careful in separating the role of political parties and mass mobilizations based on the constitutional rights and freedoms. I did not go on their stage to defend their rights. Whenever they committed any unlawful act, i.e., laying siege to Government House, the airports, or obstructing the activities of any minister, etc., I always made it clear that I did not agree with them.

But as the situation became serious and public administration was almost impossible, the country was losing heavily and the international community was losing confidence. At the critical moment, as opposition leader, I proposed to PM Samak that the dilemma could be solved by dissolving Parliament, although I well knew that if there were fresh elections, the Democrats would again be defeated. But I simply wanted to use existing procedures to get the country through the impasse. I never asked PM Samak to resign as Prime Minister as demanded by the demonstrators. Such a resignation would be a sign of surrender to the demands of mob rule. It would affect the country’s governance in a long run. Thus, I found house dissolution the best possible solution and did not even care if my party lost again in the elections. Solving the nation’s crisis would come before the interests of my party. It was my stand, and the stand of the Democrats.

As the political crisis intensified, the case against the coalition People Power Party was pending in the Constitutional Court. The party was in danger of dissolution since its Deputy Leader, Mr. Yongyuth Tiyapairat, was accused of committing electoral fraud. After Mr. Yongyuth received a red card from the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT), the Supreme Court of Thailand's Criminal Division for Electoral Fraud also concurred with the ECT’s order. And it was known to all parties that when an executive member of a political party is found guilty and given a red card, the party can be disbanded. It was crystal clear that the case dealt a big blow to the Samak and Somchai coalitions, but I did not have the slightest idea of capitalizing on it for political gain.

Mr. Pasit Sakdanarong, former Secretary of the President of the Constitutional Court, then contacted me via an MP asking to meet me. Our meeting took place at a restaurant near the headquarters of the Democrat Party. I kept listening as Mr. Pasit told me the PPP was going to be disbanded. He kept on saying that the reason he wanted me to know this was because this news would benefit the Democrat Party. In reply to him, I said the disbanding of the PPP should be subject to the deliberation of available evidence and the discretion of the Constitutional Court. In that conversation, I even told him that even if the PPP was to be disbanded, it would not benefit the Democrats, since I was quite certain that the former coalition parties would continue to form the government.

But would it be surprising if other political parties decided to join the Democrats and formed a coalition? No, it would not be surprising given the political impasse. The problems accumulated since they (the PPP) proposed to amend the Constitution to serve their own interests and after the 7 October event. I had no idea who was in talks with the military, but I never personally contacted any military officer. And I was sure no MPs were under anyone’s command. The Democrat Party’s Secretary-General, Mr. Suthep Thaugsuban, who coordinated party affairs, asked for my opinion on the issue. I said it was up to Parliament. I thought to myself that we could just say it had nothing to do with us. But as opposition leader, I felt I needed to show responsibility. We did not grab power from anyone. And if I became Prime Minister, I would not just think about serving my interests. But everything had to go through the legal process. My premiership had to be constituted by votes in Parliament and the voting had to be done in the open. Switching sides is a common phenomenon in any country with this system. And the Pheu Thai Party tried different things just to hold on to power. They even offered the premiership to Mr. Pracha Promnok, who was an MP from a small party. Two days earlier, Mr. Pracha had even given me a dinner at his residence and pledged to support me in the voting. But now (that he was offered the premiership) he was ready to compete with me. It was not a problem for me and I was ready for the race. If the military was that powerful and could force the parties to do what they wanted, why did the competition (for the premiership) get so intense?

The government was criticized for yielding to any demand made by Mr. Newin and offering his party major ministries. In fact, the logic was plain and simple; whoever was in charge of any ministry just continued with the same authority. In essence, we wanted to get the crisis solved. We never promised, as claimed by Mr. Banharn, that Section 237 of the Constitution would be amended. And on that day, Mr. Newin met me and I made clear to him three things about the Constitution. Basically, for me, any constitutional amendment dealing with technical issues could be made. I was the first person to say, during the referendum on the current Constitution, that some of its provisions could be subject to change, except those concerning amnesty, since the country had been plagued with troubles for so long. And Mr. Newin told me that he was not interested in getting any amendment for an amnesty, either. He simply wanted single-member constituencies, but I was proposing for the multiple-member constituencies. So we agreed to put the differing proposals on hold.

When I was given the chance by Parliament to solve the problems, I did not intend to serve the whole term. I was there just to solve the problems. And once the crisis was solved, I would dissolve the House. The nation was in deep trouble as a result of the global economic crisis and the political crisis. The situation was very precarious with multiple crises. I was even warned against becoming PM then as at best I could get a draw, or go broke. It would be just a waste. I would get tainted by the circumstances. We have to admit that people felt very disillusioned with the outgoing coalition parties which joined the PPP. I would stand to be criticized, too, for “so wanting to become PM that I would agree to work with any political party”. Some even accused me of “rowing the boat for the bandits”.

I understand well how upset a number of sisters and brothers felt seeing Mr. Newin Chidchob hugging me. To be fair to him, his decision to switch sides and leave Mr. Thaksin, whom he once called “boss”, was difficult for him, too. The last words that Mr. Newin conveyed to Mr. Thaksin were “It’s the end, boss”. He said it in a trembling voice with tears rolling down his cheek. The wounds must still remain in his heart until now.

It does not matter what your impression of Mr. Newin is, I believed that he made his decision solely to enable the country to move forward.

I could have just decided against joining Mr. Newin and other parties to form a coalition, just because I feared I would get tarnished, and leave the country stuck in turmoil. Had I done that, I would have lifted myself above the trouble and created no hostile enemies. I would have evaded the many risks from political competition. But if I had done that, it would have been tantamount to abdicating my responsibility as a politician who is supposed to solve problems for the people.

I could have been wrong that day. I thought if we kept working in good faith and with patience, avoided being a trigger for any growing conflict and listened to all parties, everything would have followed its own course. But it did not turn out that way. Since the first day I won the vote in the Parliament, the red shirt masses were used to attack the MPs who supported me. I had to escape in a minivan belonging to Mr. Thepthai Sanpong, just to get out of Parliament and avoided clashing with them.

At that time I told myself my life was about to change and I might not live as long as I should since some people were waging political violence against me. Despite that, I chose to go ahead for the sake of the country as I promised the voters who chose me as their Democrat MP in Bangkok: "If I have a chance, I will make a foundation for change in Thai society to give people a secure life”. And in the middle of multiple crises, I chose to do that when I got the chance. I continued to develop a strong welfare system for my people; not just short-term populism, but something more sustainable. I never got distracted by political havoc and simply devoted myself to solving the problems faced by my people.

I maintain that after working in politics for nearly 20 years, my political ideology has never changed. All my decisions are made in the best interests of the people. I am aware that people have been fed misinformation aimed at discrediting me. I simply hope that by telling you this truth, you will put your trust in me and be convinced that I have never changed my beliefs and am ready to share the joy and pain with you to move the country forward.

If I ask myself if I committed any breach of the rules of democracy during my ascension to the premiership to perform my duties, I would say no. I have always received the support of Parliament in the past two years, and the Red Shirts did not single this out as an issue to call a demonstration, until several years later.

My only mistake is perhaps that I am the first Prime Minister in the parliamentary system since 2007 not under command of Mr. Thaksin.


Translated by Pipob Udomittipong

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