Thai junta 'not concerned' about Thaksin's Asia tour

BANGKOK • Thailand is not concerned about the movements of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister, also an ousted former leader, after recent visits by the pair to several Asian cities and meetings with members of their party.

The Shinawatras, who have both held the post of prime minister, have dominated Thai politics for nearly two decades and wield significant influence through allies and relatives despite both living in self-exile.

They are likely to be a significant factor in a general election the junta has promised for November.

Critics say the military, which took power in a 2014 coup that removed Yingluck Shinawatra's government, wants to end the family's political influence - something that is reflected in a new, military-backed charter, party laws and restrictions on political parties.

Thaksin and Yingluck visited China and Japan this month and met at least 30 Members of Parliament from their Puea Thai party in Hong Kong at the weekend, party members said after returning to Thailand.

The two were spotted in a Singapore hotel on Tuesday, meeting a group of unidentified men. They were in the city state yesterday too, party sources said, adding that they were having "business meetings".

Political observers say their Asia tour is a sign that their party is gearing up for the election.

A spokesman for the junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, said it was not focused on the two Shinawatras.

"Monitoring those who have an arrest warrant is the job of relevant agencies. We are not concerned about this," spokesman Piyapong Klinpan told Reuters.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2018, with the headline 'Thai junta 'not concerned' about Thaksin's Asia tour'. Print Edition | Subscribe