Thailand braced for fugitive Thaksin return as his party launches PM bid | Inquirer News

Thailand braced for fugitive Thaksin return as his party launches PM bid

/ 11:04 AM August 22, 2023

FILE PHOTO: Thailand's former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra smiles during a meeting near his home in Dubai

FILE PHOTO: Thailand’s former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra smiles during a meeting near his home in Dubai July 3, 2011. REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh/File Photo

BANGKOK — Thailand was braced on Tuesday for the return of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra from 17 years of exile, a historic homecoming that coincides with a bid by his political allies to form a new government with some of its biggest rivals.

Thaksin, arguably Thailand’s most famous politician and the fugitive figurehead of the populist movement Pheu Thai, was seen boarding a private jet in Singapore in a video posted on social media by his sister Yingluck.


A jet widely reported by Thai media to be carrying Thaksin was later seen landing at Bangkok’s Don Mueang international airport, according to live television footage.


“For the past 17 years, you feel isolated, lonely, troubled and missing home but you persevered,” Yingluck, who also lives in self-exile, said in the post.

Thaksin fled abroad in 2008 to avoid a jail sentence for abuse of power, two years after the military toppled him alleging corruption and disloyalty to the monarchy, which he has vehemently refuted.

He will be arrested upon his return to Bangkok and taken directly to the Supreme Court for a hearing, then transferred to a prison, according to police.

Thaksin’s vaunted arrival is expected the same time the lower house and military-appointed Senate convene to vote on prime ministerial candidate Srettha Thavisin, a real estate mogul thrust into politics by Pheu Thai just a few months ago.

Thailand has been under a caretaker government since March and its new parliament has been deadlocked for weeks after anti-establishment election winners Move Forward were blocked by conservative lawmakers, leaving heavyweight Pheu Thai to lead a new effort.

The winner of five elections over the past two decades, Pheu Thai, a political juggernaut founded by the billionaire Shinawatra family, has agreed a contentious alliance including two parties backed by a military that overthrew governments led by Thaksin and sister Yingluck in coups in 2006 and 2014.


Srettha, 60, on Monday said Pheu Thai had failed to secure the outright majority it had targeted in the May election, so its only chance of governing was in partnership with some rivals it had vowed not to work with.

“We are not lying to the people, but we have to be realistic,” said Srettha, who has the support of 317 lawmakers and needs 58 votes from the Senate to secure the requisite backing of half of the legislature.

Loved and loathed

Almost certain to overshadow that vote will be the likely dramatic return of 74-year-old Thaksin, who is loved and loathed in equal measures in Thailand.

Police said early on Tuesday they had received notice of Thaksin’s imminent arrival. About 2,000 supporters were at the airport awaiting his return.

Thaksin, a former policeman, telecoms tycoon and English Premier League football club owner, won the hearts of millions of working-class Thais with populist giveaways ranging from cash handouts and village loans to farm subsidies and universal healthcare.

But his popularity and his support for a new wave of capitalist upstarts put him at odds with a nexus of royalists, military and old money families, triggering an intractable power struggle that is still being played out today.

Thaksin maintains all charges and allegations against him were trumped up to keep him from power and has over the years repeatedly promised to make his return.

Thaksin seems determined and confident to follow through this time, however, with widespread speculation that Pheu Thai’s alliance with its enemies is part of a behind-the-scenes deal Thaksin may have struck to allow his return.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Pheu Thai has denied Thaksin’s involvement in its bid to form a government and the former leader has for months denied conspiring with the generals who toppled him and his sister.


Former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra seen in video at Cambodian leader’s birthday party

Former PM Thaksin plans to return to Thailand in August–daughter

TAGS: exile, Shinawatra, Thailand, Thaksin, world news

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.