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RP closes door on Thaksin

By Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:26:00 11/10/2008

Filed Under: Politics, asylum, Foreign affairs & international relations, Diplomacy

MANILA, Philippines?Filipinos marveled at how Thaksin Shinawatra turned around Thailand?s faltering economy when he spoke in Manila five years ago. This time, the ousted prime minister may find the Philippines? door closed to him should he decide to come back and seek sanctuary here.

Foreign Undersecretary Franklin Ebdalin Sunday said the government would ?politely? turn down any request for political refuge from the fugitive Thai leader, citing Manila?s ?friendly? relations with Bangkok.

?If an applicant for political asylum insists, the first thing the friendly country customarily does is to send him back to his home country,? Ebdalin said in Filipino in a phone interview from Hong Kong.

As of Sunday, Ebdalin said the Department of Foreign Affairs had not received ?feelers? that Thaksin wanted haven in the Philippines.

?Of course, he wouldn?t want to be embarrassed, that?s why I don?t think he would make such a request,? Ebdalin said. ?He?s no ordinary figure. He?s a former prime minister of Thailand.?

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita also said that Malacaang had not received any official word on whether Thaksin, who was ousted by a military coup in 2006, intended to fly to the Philippines.

The Thai media reported that Thaksin could be bound for Manila, especially with new Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, his brother-in-law, arriving here on Monday for a visit.

British ban

Britain has banned the entry of Thaksin and his wife Pojaman by revoking their visas, provoking speculation in the Thai press over where Thaksin might set up home next.

The British move came after Thaksin was last month sentenced in absentia to two years in jail for conflict of interest after helping Pojaman buy state-owned land when he was prime minister.

There appears to be a number of countries willing to take in Thaksin, the Thai media said, mentioning the Bahamas and African countries. The Nation reported Thaksin was building an $8.5-million mansion in China, where he might take up residence.

On Saturday, the Thai press said Thaksin might head for Manila.

Thaksin has spent most of his time in Britain, where he bought and subsequently sold the Manchester City football club. He returned to Thailand in February but fled again in August after Pojaman was sentenced to three years in jail for tax evasion.

?Thaksinomics? for Filipinos

In 2003, Ms Arroyo cited Thaksin?s ?Thaksinomics,? or his economic policies, for enabling Thailand to recover from the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Addressing Makati businessmen that year, Thaksin offered this advice: ?A politician always thinks about the next election, while a statesman always thinks about the next generation. If you think of the next generation, you can do a lot of change.? With a report from Agence France-Presse

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