By WASAMON AUDJARINT
THE UNITED Kingdom has informed Thailand that if former premier Yingluck Shinawatra went to stay in the country, it would not involve political asylum, Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Don Pramudwinai said yesterday.
“The UK said that if Yingluck came to stay in the UK, there would not be an issue of political asylum. If she wanted to stay, she would need to follow the normal immigration process,” Don said, responding to a reporter’s question whether Yingluck had already been granted political asylum.
A source in Pheu Thai Party, meanwhile, speculated that Yingluck was seeking asylum in unspecified countries, but did not say that she was only dealing with the UK. The source said that the former prime minister wanted to finalise the matter, which is one reason why she had not been seen in public recently.
The Nation contacted the British Embassy to inquire about the matter, and was told that it could not provide specific information about individuals involved in the immigration process.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said at his weekly press briefing at Government House that Thai authorities still had not received a confirmation from any foreign country about Yingluck’s whereabouts.
Wherever Yingluck is located, the host country should confirm her whereabouts to Thailand so official procedures could be carried out, Prayut said, apparently referring to extradition efforts by authorities.
He added that authorities had been following the case closely and undertaking every possible legal procedure, including the revocation of Yingluck’s four passports.
Deputy Police Commissioner Pol General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said Thai police had not been updated by Interpol, apart from the fact that Yingluck had fled to the United Arab Emirates and then to the UK, which was already known.
Attorney-General Khemchai Chutiwong added that his office could not make any progress on the extradition since it did not know Yingluck’s whereabouts.
Don said the process would start with the police and the Attorney-General’s Office, while the Foreign Ministry would only communicate with other countries on the issue.
On Monday, police revealed that all four Thai passports held by Yingluck had been revoked by the Foreign Ministry last week following a police request.
The cancellation was Thai authorities’ latest action relating to the fugitive former premier, who was sentenced for five years in absentia for failing to prevent corruption in her government’s rice-pledging scheme.
Yingluck fled before the court verdict was due to be read on August 25. After the court then ruled on her case on September 27, she had 30 days to make an appeal in person, but did not do so, which means the case is technically concluded.
In accordance with new legal procedures for cases against politicians, the statute of limitation does not apply to the case, which apparently means her fugitive status is permanent.
A source from Pheu Thai Party said it was believed that Yingluck had sought asylum in several countries. In a worst-case scenario for her, she could stay in Dubai with her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, the source said.
Uncertainty over asylum was one reason why Yingluck had kept a low profile since her disappearance from Thailand, the source said. She also had waited for the mourning period for His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej to pass.
However, the source said Yingluck would eventually have to publicly address the verdict. “This is politically necessary. It should be better than letting herself be branded with the guilt forever,” the source said. “Currently, there is no factor that would shift this possibility.”