Yingluck 'will address public when time is right'

The media waiting outside Yingluck Shinawatra's home in Bangkok last Friday. She is now said to be in Dubai.
The media waiting outside Yingluck Shinawatra's home in Bangkok last Friday. She is now said to be in Dubai.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

BANGKOK • Former premier Yingluck Shinawatra, who was reported to have fled Thailand last week, will address the public when the time is right, her Puea Thai party said in a statement yesterday.

In the meantime, it said it would continue the fight for "true democracy" and economic prosperity.

"At the appropriate time, Puea Thai party believes that former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who is a valuable resource of the party, will make a public statement," it said.

It was the first official comment from the party since its embattled former leader failed to turn up in court last Friday to hear the verdict in a criminal negligence case in connection with a rice subsidy scheme for farmers while she was in office. She could have been jailed for up to 10 years.

The court has issued an arrest warrant for the former premier and postponed its verdict to Sept 27.

The statement comes amid intense speculation over the whereabouts of Yingluck, who stumped hundreds of supporters and even fellow party members with her no-show last Friday.

She is now said to be in Dubai, where her brother Thaksin Shinawatra - another former prime minister ousted by a coup - lives in exile.

Army chief Chalermchai Sitthisat, in the meantime, has defended state surveillance strategies amid questions about how Yingluck managed to flee the kingdom.

"As of now, we learnt that she abandoned all of her phones and changed her cars so it was hard to trace her using the same methods we did before," he was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Officers who used to guard the front of her home in Bangkok had also been withdrawn. "The public alleged that it was violating her personal rights and intimidating her so we withdrew the force," he said.

General Chalermchai said it was unlikely that Yingluck flew directly out of Thailand, given the security procedures at airports.

She might have left the country by land or sea instead, and then taken a private flight organised by Thaksin.

Thailand's government has no immediate plans to revoke Yingluck's passports. She holds a regular passport as well as a diplomatic one.

But Thai police say they will seek cooperation from Interpol to track her down, according to The Nation.

Tan Hui Yee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2017, with the headline 'Yingluck 'will address public when time is right''. Print Edition | Subscribe