In a "comprise" decision, Thailand's highest court has ruled that Thaksin Shinawatra can keep that fraction of his fortune earned prior to when he became prime minister (about 38% of $2.3 billion).
Some observers hope that the court's decisions to allow Thaksin to keep some of his wealth will mark a first step towards reconciliation of Thailand's red-yellow divide.
However, it looks to me as if Thaksin has already made progress toward framing a legal victory for his opponents as a moral transgression -- one that could powerfully energize his supporters and win him broader sympathy.
Quoting some lines of Buddhist poetry, Thaksin's response to the court decision was dignified. At a time when his opponents were talking about his money, Thaksin chose to speak about democracy and good government. Wearing a black suit and black tie, Thaksin addressed his supporters:
Power rests with aristocrats, who constantly push the button. Law enforcement runs real fast with the opposite side. Serious lack of international standard. . . .Given the inevitable perception among Thaksin supporters that the court ruling was vindictive, the court decision is likely to harden the conviction among residents of north and northeast Thailand that the nation's institutions are run for the benefit of the Bangkok elite. For now, by eloquently linking his own trial to the peaceful struggle for democracy in Thailand, Thaksin may yet turn the debacle to the advantage of the red shirts.
. . . Fairly good that they return what was mine before the political years. . .
Let me thank all of our supporters who adhere to my request not to show up during the case. You don’t want to be accused of doing all that for me. Let me face it alone. You can be angry, but with no violence. We must be patient and peace-oriented for future generations. For business people, do not enter politics. Business people are prone to get the job done. If you do that, my fate will be yours. If you really want to serve, sell everything before you step in.
I will continue to seek justice, wherever I am, in or out of the country. Today I receive no justice. Justice is to be sought. May the people judge. Look back at my years of service, not as one scene of a feature film. Look closely and you will see injustice lurking around. I will fight on peacefully. Future generations must be born to and in democracy, justice, and equality.
What has happened to me should be regarded as lessons for Thailand’s democratization. I appreciate all support and genuine concern. Again, I am sorry for my wife and my children.
I've posted links to live-bloggers of the historic event here.
Photo by Jotman (file photo).