Diplomatic passports are reserved for people away from their own country doing work for their country. They are the most highly respected travel documents in the world, that was until a few days ago when convicted fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra from Thailand started very open personal attacks while holding a Thai diplomatic passport.
A person who holds a diplomatic passport is entitled to diplomatic immunity. What that means is a diplomatic passport holder can break the law of a host country but can’t be prosecuted. The assumption the violation of the law was accidental and is overlooked. However the can still be expelled from the host country. The difference between being expelled and being deported is expelled there is no specific destination, and deported means return to sender.
A person who holds a diplomatic passport is also expected to act like a diplomat as they become a representative of the country that issued the diplomatic passport. They are expected to be on their best behavior and not be a trouble maker.
Thailand’s practice of letting people keep their diplomatic passport is for the most part painless and invisible. The holders for the most part melt into the woodwork and don’t bother anyone.
Enter Thaksin Shinawatra a Thai diplomatic passport holder with a personal agenda. Thaksin is a convicted fugitive and has been sentenced to two years in jail by Thailand’s supreme court. Thaksin has rejected that conviction citing numerous reasons that for the most part are irrelevant and attempt to change the focus. Thaksin is also trying to force his way back into power as he is a deposed Prime Minister ousted by a coup in September 2006.
Thaksin has mounted a series of attacks on who he perceives are his enemies and seemingly has completely lost the plot that he is a convicted criminal on the run. Rather than hide and try to disappear, he is doing the complete opposite and launching attacks from foreign soil. This has the effect of putting strains on political relations because Thaksin holds a diplomatic passport.
A few days ago while Thaksin was out of Great Britain launching yet another attack on Thailand from Hong Kong, the British government canceled Thaksin’s visa. This had the effect of bringing this issue from some place in the middle of the newspaper a whole lot closer to the front page around the world. It also had the effect of seriously pissing Thaksin off as his plans seemed to evolve around using London as a base of attack.
Keeping in mind that Thaksin is a diplomatic passport holder and now is very overtly angry making threats, this is not the image that should be associated with diplomatic passports. Following the constant that anything associated with Thaksin becomes tainted, the prestigious diplomatic passport is apparently no exception as countries around the world look on, hoping the Thai government will quickly put an end to this.
Because essentially Thaksin is out of control, any country that is hosting him becomes abused by the Thai government through Thaksin’s diplomatic passport, and that puts a diplomatic strain across the board. The only option the Thai government has that will not damage relations with other countries is to cancel Thaksin’s diplomatic passport. However because the government in Thailand is essentially a puppet to Thaksin, it will take a lot of courage to not do what the boss wants.
It is no longer just a Thai issue. Once Thaksin openly started attacks, it became a global concern. For the Thai government it becomes a predicament as they ruling party essentially supports Thaksin and his bid to return to power. To them it is like having an infected leg that must be self amputated in order to survive. Everyday that passes the face of Thailand gets dirtied a little more by Thaksin.