Govt heavies flee after many held
Thai Rak Thai executives and close aides of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra have scattered abroad while others still in the country have been taken into custody or have gone into hiding upcountry, sources said yesterday.
Party deputy spokesman Jatuporn Promphan said no executives visited the party's headquarters yesterday because of the new ban on assembling in groups of more than five people.
Meanwhile, Thai Rak Thai Party executive board member Veera Musikapong said he and some party members will seek permission from the Administrative Reform Council (ARC) leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin to visit former deputy prime minister Chidchai Vanasatidya, who is being detained at the Army Command.
A senior party member said some key members had left on unscheduled trips abroad before the coup. Former agriculture minister Sudarat Keyuraphan has gone to Paris with her family and is still there, while former interior minister Kongsak Wantana was heading for Germany.
A Commerce Ministry source said former deputy prime minister and commerce minister Somkid Jatusripitak had reportedly changed his return from France to Singapore, instead of Bangkok, as first planned.
Former finance minister Thanong Bidaya was attending the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Singapore, which ended yesterday.
Rumours spread about a cabinet in exile forming in Singapore when many ex-ministers were reported to be "regrouping" there.
Pojaman Shinawatra, plus two of her children - Panthongtae and Paethongtarn - escaped to Singapore with ousted PM's Office minister Newin Chidchob, on Tuesday night. However, they have reportedly left the city-state to meet daughter Pinthongta in London, where she is studying and the family owns a mansion - and wait for Thaksin to arrive from Washington.
Former foreign minister Kantathi Supamongkhon decided not to return to Bangkok from France, travelling instead to London, where he has a house. Kantathi was in Paris to attend the Thai-France Cultural Exhibition, that was presided over by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
Meanwhile, a source said former deputy prime minister Chidchai Vanasatidya was being held in a safe house by the Administrative Reform Council. Former secretary-general to the prime minister Prommin Lertsuridej and Justice Ministry permanent secretary Somchai Wongsawat, who is Thaksin's brother-in-law, have been placed in separate custody on the second floor of the Army Command building.
The website of firebrand millionaire Ekkayuth Anchanbutr, www.akeyuth.com, reported that Chidchai was arrested at around 9.30pm on Tuesday after he picked up Prommin, who was carrying a black briefcase from Government House. They proceeded to the Army Command, as Chidchai had smelled the coup brewing. They were arrested immediately and detained until 4am yesterday before they were separated in the morning.
Troops went to Chidchai's residence and disarmed the security guards there shortly after he left to see Prommin, the website claimed.
Somsak Thepsuthin, the party's Wang Nam Yom faction leader and ousted labour minister, is in Sukhothai while deposed natural resources and environment minister Yongyuth Tiyapairat reportedly sought refuge at the home of a senior forestry official in a Bangkok suburb before fleeing to abroad.
Senior party members including Chaturon Chaisang, Phumtham Wechayachai and Suranand Vejjajiva are in the country but not detained by the ARC as they are still reachable by phone.
Party deputy and ousted industry minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, plus former defence minister Thamarak Isarangura and former social development and human security minister Watana Muangsook are reportedly staying in the country at an unidentified location.