What made you decide to revive the anti Thaksin movement by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD)?
As I have said in many interviews, no-one stands against him. No one protects the justice system [from abuse]. It may become useless without protection. The country cannot go forward without a proper justice system.
Critics say the anti-Thaksin movement may not carry as much weight as it once did?
That is not true. This time we have support from academics and lawyers from Chulalongkorn and Thammasat universities among others. Earlier we did not have the support we now have. The charter-drafting assembly members also helped us this time because they see what is happening. The Thammasat seminars were packed both times. It is incorrect to say we are weaker now.
But some people who helped unseat Thaksin are now benefiting [from this government].
I don't see what apparent benefits they are enjoying. There would have been very few people left in the movement if I used myself as a standard. How can we carry on fighting then? We are merely doing what the people agree with. Some people may have some weaknesses. There are always two sides of a person in any business - some are winning and some are losing. With all this, I don't waste my time checking out people that I work with to determine whether they are corrupt. If I were to act as a judge, I would have to summon everyone of them. How could I find that much time to do that?
How did you join the movement then and what is your stance now?
A question that needs to be asked is this: "Will the movement lack momentum if I don't come out this time?" I had two overseas trips during the initial PAD campaigns, and if I don't come out now people would think that even Chamlong was scared. If I don't become active, nobody will.
Will the situation become violent this time?
We don't know, but I have a job to do. I cannot compare myself with others, because the situation is different. It's not that we are superior to them. I have been braving these risks all along, and I will help my country when I have to.
What can the violence stem from this time? The charter amendment?
The whole thing should also involve Thaksin directly? Including the national flag matter? Those are just side factors. The main thing is the planned charter amendment. If the charter is entirely amended there will be an election and those old power [bases] will make a comeback.
Now they want to amend 37 major articles, except for those involving the Royal family. Along with the attempt to amend the charter, many coincidences are occurring: online slander of the Royal family, a man coming out to declare he won't stand still when the anthem is played.
When the charter amendment is completed and the election victory secured, they might think of amending the whole charter after doing it with the 37 articles needed for their victory.
These people may not be aware that the Royal family is still vital to Thailand. This is no small matter and more and more people are joining them. I don't expect to achieve any success leading the PAD this time, but I see it as my duty, like I did in the 1992 upheaval, when former premier Suchinda was backed by five political parties, but I was a nobody then.
The 1992 upheaval saw a war between brothers in the military.
It was not only brothers. It was fought within the same basketball team in which Suchinda was a captain and I was a substitute.
But this time, are you sure you know all PAD members well enough to believe what they say are their aims?
From bits and pieces, the movement needs to act. We had been quiet for over a year. But what prompted people to act was the sale of Shin Corp stakes to Temasek.
What are their reasons for wanting to amend the charter?
Article 237 on preventing party dissolution and Article 390 on dissolving inspection bodies established by the coup makers.
What makes those people believe in their cause and what are their objectives?
It is not one person, but a movement that systematically acts, more and more intensely, including mob action against Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, slandering him openly. How can they say that they are attacking him as an individual? He occupies a particular post.
They are trying to say "you are pulling the sky low" [drag in the highest authority]?
I don't see it that way, because if we did we would have campaigned against them during the run-up to the previous general election. But we did nothing.
Can this encounter snowball into violence like the October 6 bloodbath?
I don't know. It's not over yet. We want it to end. We don't want to carry out street protests, having to sleep and eat on the streets. What can we gain from doing so?
Will another coup take place? If so, who will be behind it? Will the government stage a coup?
No matter what, people are always ready to believe in a rumour that a coup is about to happen. This readiness to believe comes from the fact that the Thai community is not yet strong. If community and civic organisations were strong, no one would believe in a coup rumour. So far, given Thailand's situation, a coup can happen.
More than 20 years ago, I wrote in the Sam Praeng book that I did not believe in the statement that said there would be no more coups in Thailand. And look! A coup just took place. But I don't know who was behind the last one. I also don't know whether a coup will take place again. I can only say that a coup may happen.
Many people believe the People's Alliance for Democracy has been setting conditions that are conducive to a coup.
No. Talking about conditions, I must ask who set the conditions? Were we the first to move? It's that someone is trying to amend the Constitution when the amendment in fact is not listed as government policy. The most urgent policy for the government to implement is to the promotion of reconciliation. Is the effort to amend the Constitution reconciliatory? Such effort only leads to divisions in society. Such a condition does not come from us. It comes from them.
The other day, soldiers said they stood on the side of the people. But now, soldiers are divided. How can we be confident that we are united?
We can't be confident. I count myself as a soldier. The soldier in me will never die. There are four things in me that will never die - my love for my country, my being an honourable man, my discipline and my courage. I can't say all soldiers are like me but of course some are. I can't say how many soldiers are like me because I don't tend to rely on them. It's just that they too can't bear what is happening. We don't say that most soldiers are against the proposal to amend the Constitution. But we can say that some are really against it.
Is there no chance of compromise and negotiations?
Let me explain it in another way. Let's say a home owner has noticed his house is going to collapse because of his workers' actions. Will the owner compromise? Will he let the workers do what they want simply because he doesn't want to confront them?
Should the owner keep quiet so there's no loud noise going around? If we are home owners and see our house faces collapse, we must complain. We must berate our temporary workers.
But the other side says their group includes nearly 20 million co-owners of the house.
But they don't tell these co-owners from the very beginning that they are going to amend this and that section in the Constitution. They don't make constitutional amendment a government policy. They don't even mention it. They don't tell the truth.
The other side is planning to bring people into Bangkok for a rally.
Yes, they can do it. They did this last time. They brought farm trucks from the North and from various other areas despite the fact this was against the law. Last time, they also held various demonstrations. We are not surprised if they will do such things again. Even though we know they are going to do that, we can't give up.
If we give up, what will happen to our country? If we give up, we just end up being selfish people. This is not the first time I have been involved in demonstrations. I have been in many before. As I am growing old, I feel it's my duty not to keep silent when I see things go wrong.
Given the current situation, confrontation between the two sides seems almost unavoidable?
It can be avoided if they don't cause any trouble.
Do you mean the other side should not amend the Constitution?
They may amend it but only after they hold a public referendum.
The recent clash [between both sides] seems to signal the situation is turning more violent?
Things happened because of some peripheral areas. Such a clash would not have happened if they had not stirred up the situation. The problem didn't come from our side. Our rally was peaceful. Even when we marched, no violence erupted. The situation is boiling because of our permanent and temporary workers. If the temporary workers had not hired their henchmen, no clash would have happened.
What happened was beyond our responsibility. They must be responsible. Their salary comes from the state budget. If the country is in trouble, they must be responsible. They are the ones who caused the problem, not us.
Are senior figures coming in to help mediate?
These figures have been destroyed. If a house is without a senior figure, how can it be a house? They are bent on destroying the senior figures.
Do you feel that after his two-year absence, [Thaksin] is back and stronger than before?
No. He is not as strong as before. Analysts say had he listened to me and paid Bt26 billion in tax for his almost tax-free deal, he would have saved the country and himself a lot of trouble.
But now he looks more aggressive than before.
I want to point the finger at his sidekicks.
There's a saying that if a leader isn't bad, then his followers won't go astray.
I don't know. It depends on who you ask. If he agrees to back off, our country will enjoy good fortune. If not, it means bad luck for the country.
How long will you join the street protest?
I don't know. I am 72 years and 10 months old. But I feel it's my duty to do so as long as I am still living in this country. I did it last time and I will do it again. It's easy for me to do this duty. There's no need to worry. I believe people who are in my position will do the same thing.
With all the good intentions, some people tell me that I should not get involved in street protests any more. However, I can't stay idle when I can help. Some people ask whether I can do better things than this. I want to ask them in return what those better things are? I am waiting for their answer. If you feel I should do something better, write and tell me what I should do?
Normally, it takes two to tango.
No one wishes to stage a protest because there's trouble coming. What we do is not for our own benefit.
Do you think a House dissolution will be called?
The government says it costs money to hold a public referendum. So, I won't ask if a new election won't cost money. The government can do what it wants because it is in power. But it should think about the damages its actions may be causing.
Now, the national-flag issue is being dragged into the fray?
The national flag is one of the issues, but not the main issue. Our main focus is on the effort to amend the Constitution. Analyses show the constitutional amendments will affect the country's security. So far, we have time to stop it because coalition parties have not yet made a decision. We hope the coalition parties will listen to us. If they don't want trouble to erupt, they should not agree with the move. The government in fact has many choices but for us, we only have one alternative. We must protect our country.
Has the government dispatched someone to negotiate with you?
No. The government knows it can't change us. At the same time, we can't control the government.
Are you analysing the situation on a daily basis?
We talk over the phone sometimes. So far, the situation is pretty much the same. The other side is seriously trying to amend the Constitution. If the government starts the parliamentary process to amend it, we will immediately start the impeachment process. People will know about our big rally. We will do what we must. We don't act arbitrarily.