Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul yesterday explained his decision to repeal the passport ban on Thaksin Shinawatra, saying he was justified in reissuing the passport because the fugitive former prime minister was not a security threat.
“I don’t see Thaksin threatening the country, therefore I lifted the passport ban,” he said. Surapong was speaking during a question-and-answer session rebutting an opposition motion questioning his judgement in Thaksin’s case.
He said his Democrat predecessor, Kasit Piromya, cited what he saw was Thaksin’s threatening activities as grounds for the passport ban.
After assuming office, he detected no threats posed by Thaksin, prompting a repeal of the ban, he said.
The consular department subsequently reissued a passport for Thaksin via the Thai Embassy in Abu Dhabi, Surapong said.
He insisted he had acted within his mandate as foreign minister. He said the Democrat-led government made an unfair decision to deny Thaksin his travel document.
“If Thaksin was a threat, then several other people should have fallen under the same category, but the previous government only discriminated against him,” he claimed. He also said the Foreign Ministry could not cancel the passport just because Thaksin had outstanding arrest warrants.
Under relevant laws, a passport could be recalled only under a combination of two factors – outstanding warrants and a formal ban on travelling abroad issued by law enforcement agencies such as the courts, the prosecutors and the police, he maintained.
In Thaksin’s case, none of the agencies concerned had banned him from travelling despite the arrest warrants, he said.
Meanwhile, opposition Democrat MP Virut Kalayasiri said he found that the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) had removed from its computer database information about its warrant for Thaksin’s arrest. He said the removal took place recently and that the DSI explained it was upgrading its computer system.
Virut said he would bring the matter to the attention of the National Anti-Corruption Commission next week. “I believe this act was not initiated by bureaucrats. They surely got an order from politicians,” he said.
According to the Democrat MP, removal of the information allowed the Foreign Ministry to issue a new passport to the former premier.