APPEAL FROM LONDON
Thaksin seeks privacy for family in Bangkok
Pojaman and two children apparently staying back to look after assets
Ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has taken refuge in London, appealed late on Thursday for privacy for his family, as his wife and two of their children are still in Bangkok to look after the family's many assets.
Pojaman Shinawatra has been seen in Bangkok since her husband was toppled by a military coup on Tuesday. Panthongtae, the family's eldest child, and Paetongtarn, the younger daughter, are staying with her at their Chan Song Lah residence in Bangplad, Thon Buri.
A tight-lipped Thaksin had little to say to reporters waiting outside the London apartment where he has holed up since arriving on Wednesday from New York, where he tried to stage a counter coup, according to Agence France-Presse.
Asked what his plans were, he replied simply: "Stay with my daughter, that's it" - a reference to Pinthongta, with whom he had earlier been seen near the Dorchester Hotel, haunt of the visiting rich and famous.
"I say nothing except please leave my family [alone]," he added.
It is not known why Pojaman and the two children have not flown over to London to reunite with Thaksin.
However, it is an open secret in the capital that the Shinawatra family still keeps some Bt50 billion from the sale of Shin Corp to Temasek Holdings of Singapore in Thai banks, including Siam Commercial Bank, Bangkok Bank and Thanachart Bank.
Pojaman has apparently stayed on in Bangkok to look after the family's assets in Thaksin's absence. He husband cannot return home for fear of being taken into custody by the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM), which organised the coup.
Bank of Thailand Governor MR Pridiyathorn Devakula said yesterday the central bank had not moved to freeze any assets of the Shinawatra family.
"We haven't frozen any assets because we don't have the authority to do so. And no one has ordered us to do so. We can freeze assets only when instructed by the authorities," he said.
One of the CDRM's priorities is to organise a new National Counter Corruption Commission - to which the coup-makers yesterday appointed nine members - to go after the assets of unusually rich politicians in the Thaksin government.
Pridiyathorn confirmed that the Shinawatra family's Bt50 billion in proceeds arising from the sale of Shin Corp shares remained in the country.
"I estimate that no large amount of Thai baht has been converted into overseas currencies. However, I don't know whether the money could have been packed in suitcases and taken abroad because the Immigration Bureau is responsible for this matter," he said.
On Tuesday, when the CDRM launched its coup, Pojaman hid at a safe house in the Phaholyothin area of Bangkok. After that she reportedly returned to her Chan Song Lah residence, where she was joined by Panthongtae and Paetongtarn.
There were early reports saying that Pojaman had flown to Singapore and was preparing to fly on to London to meet her husband and Pinthongta.
Paetongtarn will be taking an exam at Chulalongkorn University's Political Science Faculty on Monday. Panthongtae still lives a normal life, going to work at his How Come Company.
Police and military personnel have provided tight security for the Shinawatra family, deploying guards along Soi Charansanitwong 69, where they have their residence.
While his family is being monitored by Thai security guards, Thaksin has also recruited guards from the MI5 intelligence service in London.
According to a report on the web site www.thaiinsider.com, which is owned by the UK-based Oriental Mart Group chief executive officer Ekkeyuth Anchanbutr, Thaksin is now staying at 55 Park Lane, London W1, which belongs to his close friend, Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed.
Thaksin has not gone to his own flat in the plush London suburb of Kensington, where his daughter Pinthongta lived while studying in London.
The website, which had a special reporter monitoring Thaksin's movements, said the deposed PM had asked MI5 to temporarily provide him with security. Thaksin reasoned that he had no confidence in his safety since being overthrown.
Earlier Thaksin issued a statement confirming he was bowing out of politics - to take a "deserved rest" - and calling for early elections and "national reconciliation" in his homeland.
Meanwhile, Thaksin's brother Payap Shinawatra was briefly under military custody yesterday. When Payap landed in Chiang Mai from a flight from Bangkok, he was escorted by the military and detained at a military camp. He was released shortly thereafter.
Thaksin's younger sisters - Yaowapa Wongsawat, Yaowaret Shinawatra and Yinglak Shinawatra - are believed to have fled abroad.