House Committee denied access to hospitalised ex-PM Thaksin

Chaichana Detdecho leading the panel for addressing this concern | Photo taken from Bangkok Post

A visit to the Police General Hospital by members of the House Committee on police affairs was met with resistance yesterday, as they were denied access to the hospitalised former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The committee’s objective was to verify if Thaksin was indeed under treatment at the hospital, following approval for the visit granted on Monday.

The committee, led by the chairman and Democrat MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat, Chaichana Detdecho, arrived at the hospital located in the Pathumwan district at 10am. The team had previously coordinated with the hospital to organise the inspection and verify the standard of care provided to inmates, including Thaksin, who is 74 years old.

According to reports, Thaksin was admitted to the 14th floor of the hospital on his return to Thailand on August 22. The committee’s visit was conducted under the guidelines of Section 129 of the Constitution, which gives the committee the right to investigate matters that stir public suspicion.

A letter was sent to the national police chief, Police General Torsak Sukvimol, who supervises the hospital, by Chaichana seeking permission for the inspection. The committee was keen on examining the hospital’s procedures for treating inmates and ensuring that all prisoners receive equal treatment.

Chaichana emphasised that the visit was designed to clear public doubts about Thaksin’s treatment since his admission to the hospital. He assured that the committee would strictly adhere to the legal framework during their visit.

“We [the panel] intend to inspect the hospital to the extent permitted, and that is all. If the answers are incomplete, relevant agencies, the Police General Hospital and the Department of Corrections must explain to society.”

Public mistrust

He further clarified that the visit was not politically driven but was aimed at addressing public concerns. He insisted that transparent explanations from the two agencies were vital to prevent public mistrust.

Despite making it to the 14th floor, the committee members could not meet Thaksin. They interacted with hospital officials at a front desk counter and then proceeded to the 7th floor to visit other patients. They also met a nurse who revealed that Thaksin was diagnosed with heart valve regurgitation among other illnesses.

Earlier, Pol. Col. Sirikul Srisanga, spokeswoman for the Police General Hospital, announced that the hospital would not allow the committee members to reach the 14th floor where Thaksin is housed. They were permitted to examine the standards and procedures for the detention of prisoners at the hospital, ensuring the patients’ rights were not violated.

Thaksin has been permitted by the Department of Corrections (DoC) to continue his stay at the Police General Hospital, surpassing the maximum limit of 120 days of inpatient care on December 22. The DoC announced the day before the committee’s visit that Thaksin was seriously ill and needed to stay in the hospital, as moving him back to jail could put his life in jeopardy.

Thaksin, who returned to Thailand on August 22 after a 15-year self-imposed exile, was immediately sentenced to eight years in prison in three cases, which was later reduced to one year by a royal pardon. He was transferred from the Bangkok Remand Prison to the Police General Hospital on August 23 due to health complications and has been there ever since, reported Bangkok Post.

Meanwhile, demonstrators led by the Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand rallied outside the Government to protest Thaksin’s extended hospital stay. Protest leader Phichit Chaimongkol questioned the severity of Thaksin’s illnesses and demanded transparency regarding his need for treatment outside prison.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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