FUGITIVE former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra is expected to hold a press conference in Hong Kong soon – her first since fleeing Thailand last August.
After her travels to China and Japan, Hong Kong is Yingluck’s next destination and it is where she is likely to muster support, National Legislative Assembly (NLA) whip Somchai Sawangkarn said yesterday, quoting a diplomatic source.
“She plans to visit Hong Kong to muster support for her cause. She will call a press conference in late February or early March,” Somchai said. His source said Yingluck would be received by her supporters in Hong Kong.
According to Somchai’s source in Japan, Yingluck had tried to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during her stay in that country. She had also sought to meet old business and political connections in Japan.
Yingluck and her brother Thaksin travelled to Tokyo after being seen together in Beijing – a photo of them in the Chinese capital was circulated on social media last Saturday.
Somchai quoted his source as saying Yingluck’s arrival in Japan had made authorities there “uncomfortable”, but she might have received a tourist visa and used either a Cambodian or Montenegrin passport.
Thaksin and Yingluck, who are both wanted by Thai authorities after being convicted, had been in Tokyo since Saturday and had left for Hong Kong on Tuesday, Japan News reported, quoting sources close to the pair.
Last August, Yingluck fled Thailand just days before the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders was scheduled to deliver its verdict in a case connected to her government’s rice-pledging scheme. A month later she was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison for negligence in managing the scheme, which incurred major losses for the state.
Her elder brother Thaksin was deposed as prime minister in a military coup in 2006 and subsequently fled abroad to avoid being jailed for abuse of power, also by the same court.
Yingluck, who is believed to have visited Japan for the first time since fleeing Thailand, was accompanied by Thaksin and former PM Somchai Wongsawat, their brother-in-law.
They stayed in Japan for “private purposes” and Yingluck was granted permission to enter the country by the Japanese government, sources said.
“I don’t know exactly where [Yingluck] is, but as I talked to my source, we both felt uncomfortable,” he said. “The Thai authorities should expedite their pursuit and the junta should be serious about this.”
Somchai said Yingluck appeared to be trying to build international pressure on Thailand and prompt domestic critics of the military government to cause disturbances now that its popularity is on the decline.
Somchai said he was told recently that no progress had been made in efforts to bring her home.