Thaksin Shinawatra’s leisure trip to Phuket sparks controversy

Picture courtesy of Reuters official website

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra stirred controversy following his recent visit to Phuket, which was initially presented as a casual leisure trip. The trip has come under scrutiny as Thaksin was observed mingling with various business figures and local administrative authorities on the island.

Local reports stated that this incident prompted speculation about the actual intention behind Thaksin’s trip and whether it infringed upon the terms of his parole. Thaksin, who is still regarded by many as the unspoken leader of the incumbent Pheu Thai Party, arrived in Phuket on Monday and departed yesterday, May 2.

According to the leader of the opposing Move Forward Party, Chaithawat Tulathon, Thaksin’s visit might be linked to the government’s intentions to advance the establishment of a new entertainment complex, including a casino. He pointed out that Phuket is considered one of the potential locations for such a venture.

In the most recent General Election, the Move Forward Party astonishingly managed to secure all three constituencies on the resort island.

A Move Forward MP for Bangkok, Nattacha Boonchaiinsawat, remarked that Thaksin’s trip would not have been questioned if he had maintained a low profile rather than touring various development projects and offering his advice.

“Thaksin’s actions might not be illegal, but the more significant issue is whether they were appropriate.”

Conflict of interest

Adding to that, Thaksin, despite his parole, remains under probation. In August of the previous year, Thaksin was handed an eight-year prison sentence, subsequently reduced to one year through a royal pardon, for conflict of interest and abuse of authority during his tenure from 2001 to 2006.

The 74 year old former Thai PM never actually served time in prison, instead spending six months in a Police General Hospital. He became eligible for parole in February due to his age, health condition, and having served half of his sentence.

As a parolee, Thaksin is technically still considered a prisoner, implying he should restrict his travels. Nattacha remarked that it would be challenging for corrections officials and even the justice minister to justify why other parolees were not granted the same privileges as Thaksin.

It seems that the media have more closely followed Thaksin’s trips than the government’s mobile Cabinet meetings, mentioned Nattacha implying that every action Thaksin has taken post-parole appears to be a signal that he feels free to do as he wishes, given the government’s support.

Thepthai Senapong, a former Democrat Party MP for Nakhon Sri Thammarat, added that high-ranking officials and business leaders frequently greet Thaksin during his provincial visits, reported Phuket News.

Phuket NewsPolitics News

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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