Desperately seeking asylum
While no one in the government has confirmed exactly where former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra is after fleeing a five-year prison sentence in connection with the graft-tainted rice-pledging scheme, recent local and foreign media reports claim Yingluck is now in the United Kingdom seeking political asylum.
A Pheu Thai Party source told the Bangkok Post that Yingluck’s brother, ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, had made preparations to help his sister more than three years in advance in the event she had to face the same fate as him.
Thaksin has lived in self-imposed exile after fleeing the country in an apparent bid to avoid a two-year prison stint in the Ratchadaphisek land case.
The source said that Thaksin has invested many billions of baht in a healthcare business in the south of London, and that he has had a luxurious mansion worth nearly 300 million baht built nearby for his sister to become a hospital executive, and to ensure that she will be able to continue to live a comfortable life overseas.
But for now, Yingluck has to keep her fingers crossed that the UK will approve her request for political asylum. She has also applied for asylum-seeker status for her only son, Supasek Amornchat, to further his studies in the UK, the source said.
The source said her asylum application will take six months to be processed before the result will be announced. If she is granted asylum, she will be allowed to stay in the UK for five years, the source added.
Apart from the fact that the UK is a party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Yingluck has also chosen the country because Thaksin has a residence and a business there, and the country also has several leading educational institutes for her son to choose from, the source said.
“She did not choose Dubai, even though the country does not have an extradition treaty with Thailand, because there were some problems involving schools for her son while the US is too far away for her family to visit. Therefore, the UK is the best option,” the source said.
More than a month after Yingluck shocked the nation with her vanishing act, after earlier insisting she would see the case through to its conclusion, the Supreme Court’s Division for Holders of Political Positions found her guilty of criminal negligence for not preventing corruption and irregularities in her government’s fake G2G sales. The court sentenced her to five years in prison.
Yingluck escaped shortly before Aug 25 when the Supreme Court was originally scheduled to deliver the ruling on her government’s loss-ridden rice-pledging case. The court then postponed the ruling to Sept 27, when it handed down the sentence.
Interpol has agreed to issue an international alert to member countries to locate Yingluck. The Royal Thai Police earlier sent Interpol an arrest warrant which was issued after she failed to turn up to hear the ruling in her case.
Yingluck: Wants to settle in UK, not Dubai