Ex-Thai PM ‘will remain in UK’

Thaksin Shinawatra in the UK (March 2008)British Broadcasting Corporation

Page last updated at 07:02 GMT, Monday, 11 August 2008 08:02 UK

Thaksin owns properties in England as well as Manchester City football club

The ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has said he will not return to Thailand from the UK.

In a statement released to the Thai media, Mr Thaksin said he and his wife would remain in the UK, “where democracy is more important”.

Mr Thaksin is on bail over corruption charges but failed to make a scheduled Bangkok court appearance on Monday.

He has always insisted the charges are politically motivated and an attempt to remove him from politics.

“What happened to me and my family and my close relations resulted from efforts to get rid of me from politics,” Mr Thaksin said in the hand-written statement.

“These are my political enemies. They don’t care about the rule of law, facts or internationally recognised due process.”

He claimed there was a “continuation of dictatorship” in Thai politics which led to “interference in the justice system”.

Mr Thaksin apologised to the Thai people for his decision to live in England, where his daughter is attending university and where owns several properties, as well as the Manchester City football club.

“If I am fortunate enough, I will return and die on Thai soil, just like other Thais,” he said.

Observers have said that the former prime minister may attempt to claim political asylum in the UK, but there was no reference to this in the statement.

Mr Thaksin was due back in the Thai capital on Sunday after a court allowed him to attend the Olympic Games opening.

His wife, Pojaman, is also on bail pending an appeal after she was sentenced last month to three years in jail for tax fraud.

It was the first of several cases against Thailand’s former first family.

No-show

Mr Thaksin and his wife were scheduled to appear before the Supreme Court in a case involving the allegedly unlawful purchase of land.

The couple had been given until 1630 (0930 GMT) to make an appearance before the court demanded an explanation from their lawyer; it may eventually issue an arrest warrant.

Thailand’s Supreme Court has agreed to try several cases against Thaksin Shinawatra for allegedly abusing his power during his five years in office.

They could end in a conviction, and a possible prison sentence – results, say analysts, that Mr Thaksin clearly did not anticipate when he made a triumphant return from exile in March.

Mr Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in 2006.

His party, Thai Rak Thai, was outlawed, and Mr Thaksin was banned from politics for five years.

He returned from exile in the UK in March after his political allies in the People’s Power Party set up a coalition government.

After Thai authorities froze more than $2bn (£1bn) of his family’s assets pending corruption cases against him, he is now reportedly worth $400m (£200m).

The Wall Street Journal Home Page

 

Thaksin to Live in U.K.
Amid Court Case in Thailand

By JAMES HOOKWAY
August 11, 2008 3:09 a.m.

BANGKOK — Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his family have left Thailand — where they are facing an array of corruption charges — to live in Britain, a move which could reduce political tensions here, at least in the short term.

On Sunday evening Mr. Thaksin flew from Beijing, where he was attending the opening of the Olympic Games, to London instead of returning to Bangkok, where he was scheduled to appear in court Monday to face criminal charges.

[Thaksin Shinawatra]

In a handwritten statement faxed to Thai television stations after he arrived in Britain Monday — and apparently signed by the former premier — Mr. Thaksin complained about political “interference in the justice system.” He also suggested that the Thai armed forces, which deposed him in a military coup in 2006, are still running Thailand despite the restoration of democracy last year.

Two weeks ago Mr. Thaksin’s wife, Pojaman Shinawatra, was found guilty of tax evasion and sentenced to three years in jail. Although Ms. Pojaman was released on bail pending an appeal, political analysts here interpreted her conviction as an indication that Mr. Thaksin would also be convicted on at least one of several corruption charges filed against him after the military took power.

Mr. Thaksin, a 59-year old telecommunications billionaire who became prime minister in 2001, didn’t mention the possibility of formally seeking political asylum in Britain in his faxed statement. He doesn’t necessarily need to do so, unless the Thai authorities seek to extradite him. Mr. Thaksin has substantial property interests in Britain, and is the owner of the Manchester City soccer team.

In the short term, Mr. Thaksin’s self-imposed exile will likely ease tensions in the Thai capital, where antigovernment protestors have been campaigning since May against a pro-Thaksin government that won election last December. The benchmark Stock Exchange of Thailand Index rose 3.2% in Monday’s morning session to reach 712.61 points on the news of Mr. Thaksin’s decision not to return to Thailand.

Political analysts said Mr. Thaksin’s departure could weaken the influence of the current coalition government, which is largely comprised of his supporters. But the bigger question, according to Somchai Phagapasvivat, a political science lecturer at Bangkok’s Thammasat University, is whether Mr. Thaksin’s legacy of populist, free-spending economic policies will continue to prosper in a country which has traditionally been ruled by an elite closely allied to military and the influential monarchy.

“Thaksinomics could outlast Mr. Thaksin,” Mr. Somchai said. “He showed that populism works, and his supporters rose to power last year by following the same prescription.”

If that’s the case, Mr. Somchai said, there could be a continuing struggle for political control in Thailand between populist politicians and conservative establishment leaders allied with the armed forces.

Write to James Hookway at james.hookway@awsj.com

Reuters India

Former Thai PM Thaksin skips bail, flees to UK

Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:48pm IST

 

Photo

By Panarat Thepgumpanat

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra skipped bail on Monday and went into exile, alleging that political enemies who removed him in a 2006 coup were meddling in the courts to “finish off” him and his family.

In a hand-written statement faxed to news outlets from his refuge in London, Thaksin, 59, apologised to the Supreme Court for failing to appear in a corruption case involving him and his wife, Potjaman.

“I must apologise again for deciding to come to live in England. If I am fortunate enough, I will return and die on Thai soil, just like other Thais,” he said.

His decision to flee rather than fight a slew of corruption charges logged since the coup helped pushed the stock market 3 percent higher on hopes political temperatures might cool down after three years of turmoil.

Analysts said it could mean the government that came to power in December elections on the back of Thaksin’s rural popularity might get a break from round-the-clock, anti-Thaksin street protests and be able to concentrate on the economy.

However, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), the motley group of royalists, businessmen and Bangkok middle-classes united by their hatred of Thaksin, said it was not going to give up until the six-party coalition fell.

“Thaksin’s exile is another victory for us, but our ultimate goal is to finish off the Thaksin regime by kicking out his puppet government,” spokesman Parnthep Pourpongpan told Reuters.

“VERY ANGRY”

Thaksin said his decision to leave Thailand less than six months after returning from post-coup exile had been forced on him because his foes were meddling in the judicial system “to finish off myself and my family”.

“These are my political enemies. They don’t care about the rule of law, facts or internationally recognised due process,” he said.

Potjaman was sentenced last month to three years in jail for tax fraud, but freed on bail pending an appeal. The couple’s departure for China with a large amount of luggage immediately after the verdict sparked rumours they were going into exile.

Analysts say it was probably the prospect of his wife doing jail time that forced Thaksin, who had been on bail of 8 million baht ($237,000), to leave the country.

His parting swipe at the judicial system in defiance of rigidly enforced contempt of court laws means he will not be able to return for a long time, analysts said.

“He has defamed the court, and so he’s gone for good,” Thaksin biographer and political analyst Chris Baker said.

“He is quite an emotional fellow, and he has lashed out very often in the past,” he added. “My guess is that over the last few weeks and months, he’s splashed out a lot of money to try and get himself out of this, and it’s failed, and he’s very angry.”

His criticism of the courts is also likely to jeopardise any bid to get his hands on more than $2 billion in Thai bank accounts frozen since the coup, which was widely believed to have been orchestrated by Thailand’s royalist, military elite.

Thaksin had been due to return to Bangkok from the Olympic Games with his wife on Sunday evening but instead quietly took a plane to London the previous day, an aide said.

He owns UK football club Manchester City and has a property in a swish west London district. At least one of his adult children is studying in London.

After his removal by the army in 2006, mainly on the pretext of “rampant corruption”, Thaksin spent much of his time in the British capital, as well as in Hong Kong and Beijing.

The army-appointed interim government looked into trying to extradite him under a bilateral criminal treaty signed with Britain in 1911, but never lodged a formal request.

(Additional reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan)

Ex-Thai leader Thaksin flees for Britain

 BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) — Deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife failed to appear in court Monday in connection with a corruption case, opting instead to leave for Britain, Thailand’s national news agency said.

Pojaman Shinawatra and her husband Thaksin leave Bangkok Criminal Court on July 31 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Pojaman Shinawatra and her husband Thaksin leave Bangkok Criminal Court on July 31 in Bangkok, Thailand.

 

Thaksin issued a statement saying he was skipping the court appearance because of “unfair” treatment and said he would remain in Britain, the Thai News Agency said.

Thaksin could not immediately be reached for comment.

Thaksin and his wife, Pojaman Shinawatra, were scheduled to testify in a Supreme Court case about the unlawful purchase of real estate. The real-estate scandal case is one of several corruption claims that Thaksin and his family face in court.

Their lawyer had said the pair would “definitely appear” in court Monday to fight the corruption charges, the Thai News Agency (TNA) said.

But the couple did not return to Bangkok on Sunday night from a trip to the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

In the real-estate case, Pojaman is accused of using her husband’s political influence to buy undeveloped land from a government agency for about a third of its estimated value.

The former prime minister has consistently denied that he or his family was involved in any wrongdoing.

Last month, Pojaman was found guilty of evading millions of dollars in taxes and sentenced to three years in prison, state media reported.

She was released pending appeal on bail of five million baht ($149,000).

Pojaman, her step-brother and her secretary were convicted on charges alleging that they intentionally avoided paying taxes worth 546 million baht ($16.4 million) in a 1997 transfer of shares in the family’s telecommunications business.

Thaksin, who served two terms as prime minister, was deposed in a bloodless military coup in September 2006.

The billionaire leader — a telecommunications tycoon who owns the Manchester City Football Club of the English Premier League — is accused of abusing the country’s system of checks and balances and bending government policy to benefit his family business.

He lived abroad until his allies, the People Power Party, won nearly half the seats in the lower house in December’s parliamentary elections.

—————————————————————————————————————

Quotes by Thaksin Shinawatra

 

“My wife and I will stay in England where democracy is more important,” he said in a hand-written statement released to the media.  AFP

Thaksin said his decision to leave Thailand again, less than six months after returning from post-coup exile, had been necessary because his enemies had been meddling in the judicial system “to finish off myself and my family”Reuters

“I thought I would be able to prove my innocence and receive justice, which is why I returned to Thailand on February 28. But the situation has deteriorated,” Thaksin said.   guardian.co.uk

In a statement released to the Thai media, Mr Thaksin said he and his wife would remain in the UK, “where democracy is more important”.   Kenya Broadcasting Corporation

“I love my country and I am loyal to the king. I may not be a 100% good person but I am not a bad person either. If I have the chance, I want to come back and die in my own country,” Thaksin said in the statement, which was faxed to the television station and read over the channel just before noon, local time.   Malaysia Star

“I believe in my own innocence in the case and I’m ready to fight the land case under the justice system,” Thaksin said June 26, the day three members of his legal team were sentenced to six months in jail for giving 2 million baht to a court clerk.   Bloomberg

In a handwritten statement faxed to Thai television stations after he arrived in Britain Monday — and apparently signed by the former premier — Mr. Thaksin complained about political “interference in the justice system.”   Wall Street Journal

“I intend to increase the club’s fan base by reaching out to Manchester City fans across the world, not least in Asia and specifically in China and my home nation of Thailand,” Thaksin said.   Forbes

“I intend to increase the club’s fan base by reaching out to Manchester City fans across the world, not least in Asia and specifically in China and my home nation of Thailand,” Shinawatra said.   International Herald Tribune

“Today I want everyone to know that I hold no grudges against people who did bad to me,” Thaksin said, adding that both rival sides should reconcile as birthday presents for Their Majesties the King and Queen. Nation Multimedia

“My wife and I have traveled to reside in England,” Thaksin said in the statement.   The Associated Press

“I expected everything would be better, that I might have a chance to prove my innocence and receive a fair trial when I returned to Thailand,” Thaksin said in the statement.   AFP

Thaksin said his decision to leave Thailand again, less than six months after returning from post-coup exile, had been necessary because his enemies had been meddling in the judicial system “to finish off myself and my family.”   Reuters

“I have decided to live in England,” Thaksin said in a hand-written statement he sent to Thai television stations.   Earthtimes (press release)

“My wife and I have travelled to reside in England,” Thaksin said in the statement.   Times of India

“What has happened to me and my family is the fruit of a poisoned tree,” said Thaksin, who argued that his political enemies had biased the investigations into corruption charges against him in the aftermath of his overthrow by a military coup on Sep 19, 2006.   Thaindian.com

In a statement issued to the government-owned NBT television channel, Thaksin said he was leaving for London where he has a home because Thailand’s justice system was not being fair to him and “practised double standards.”  Malaysia Star

A spokesperson for Thaksin said that the family would appeal the ruling and “fight to the end”.   Adnkronos International Italia

“The opposition here is playing on nationalist sentiments to stir up public opinion against Samak’s government” and Thaksin, who is behind the government, said Lintner.   DefenseNews.com (subscription)

“I want to see unity among people in the country. I don’t want to see the plenty conflicts going on,” Thaksin said.    Nation Multimedia      

image

Thaksin’s “Asylum” Announcement: “Regarding the non-appearance at the Supreme Court”

The following is my rough and quick translation of Thaksin’s announcement from England, 11th August, regarding his non-appearance at the Supreme Court of Thailand.
***************************************

“Firstly, I would like to apologize to the judges involved in the Rachadapisek land case and to all my Thai brothers and sisters who have supported me, for traveling to England – a country that holds to the principle of democracy above all else – without reporting to the Supreme Court division for Political Office Holders.
Those things that have happened to me, my family and those who are close to me, are a product of the attempt to eliminate me from politics, by assassination and subsequently by the coup d’état. [The coup group] appointed antagonistic individuals to pursue cases against me, and to draft a constitution that preserved dictatorial power; and appointed those who supported the coup into the various organs in order to pursue me.

After the election on 23 December 2007, the majority of the people voted for the People’s Power Party, the majority of whose members were former members from Thai Rak Thai [Thaksin’s old party] to return to their duties as representatives of the people.I thought the situation was improving and that I would have the opportunity to prove my innocence, and receive justice, thus I returned to Thailand on the 28 February 2008.But the situation got worse; and the things that happened to me and my family were like the fruit of a poison tree, the fruit from such a tree is poison: the preservation of dictatorship by managing democracy and interfering in the justice system… to eliminate me and my family, by those who consider me their political enemy. They do so with no concern for the legal system… or the universal rule of law, whether it is in regard to witness evidence or the use of retrospective measures; they did not use the principles of the rule of law and the legal state. My family and I have been subject to continuous injustice.

The obvious interference in the justice system and the use of double standards that denies justice to me and my family and those involved can not be compared to the fact that the country’s long-standing processes of justice and the esteemed organizations involved have now degenerated; their politicization and lack of neutrality is a great loss to the country.

Besides this, my life has been under threat and wherever I traveled I have had to use bullet proof vehicles: this is what I get from giving myself to the nation, the palace and the people with great energy for six years as prime minister
I thus apologize one more time that I have had to make this decision to live in England, and I affirm that:

1 My family and I are inestimably loyal to the monarchy and to all members of the royal family, even though there are those who have slanderously suggested otherwise.

2 While I am not perfect, I am not as bad as I have been accused of being. When the appropriate time comes, I will declare the truth for all to know; today, is not my day, to my supporters, please continue to be patient.

3. Like all Thai people, if I have good fortune I request to die on Thai soil.

With respect and love,

Police Lieutenant Thaksin Shinawatra

Translated from Prachatai.com

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