Thai authorities say they will not obstruct Thaksin’s foreign media interviews

International Herald Tribune

BANGKOK, Thailand: Thailand’s military-installed government said
Monday it has no plans to keep deposed Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra from giving interviews to the foreign media, amid reports
that his remarks have angered officials at home.

Surayud Chulanont, who was named interim prime minister after a
Sept. 19 coup, dismissed reports that the government planned to censor
Thaksin as he travels around Asia criticizing coup leaders and stating
that he still has support at home.

“It is the right of Mr. Thaksin to speak or give interviews, and
people will make their judgments on what he says,” Surayud told
reporters. “The government will not stop or obstruct his interviews.”

One of the coup leaders, Gen. Anupong Phaochinda, said over the
weekend that authorities were considering “appropriate measures” to
counter Thaksin’s criticism. He did not elaborate.

In a recent interview with Time magazine, Thaksin said that Thais
threw their support behind the coup after it was endorsed by King
Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Radio
stations Monday speculated that the comment could be interpreted as
offensive to the country’s beloved king. It is a crime in Thailand to
insult the monarchy.

“Thaksin has gone insane for making comments that are tantamount to
offending the king,” Danai Ekemahasat, the managing director of GG News
network, said in a broadcast Monday.

After coup leaders ousted Thaksin, they drafted an interim
constitution and named a temporary government headed by Surayud, which
the king endorsed as a matter of formality. The palace has repeatedly
said the king played no role before the coup.

Thaksin was overseas when the coup occurred and has not been allowed
home since. He has traveled to China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore,
Japan and Australia. Talking freely with journalists in those
countries, he has insisted he has no intention to return to politics
but also expressed confidence that he could win an election if he chose
to run.

“Let him speak,” Thirapat Serirangsan, a Cabinet member in Surayud’s
government said last week. “When we let the stupid man speak he
continues to show his stupidity, so there is no need to stop him from
giving interviews.”

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