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SRP calls for Thaksin investigation

SRP calls for Thaksin investigation

090216_03.jpg
090216_03.jpg

Letter to Hun Sen, citing Bangkok newspaper, says presence of fugitive

premier in Cambodia could jeopardise relations with Thailand, where he

still faces corruption conviction.

Photo by:
BLOOMBERG 

Ousted former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra shown here in a file photograph.

OPPOSITION lawmakers have called on Prime Minister Hun Sen to investigate media reports that former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has sought refuge in Cambodia following the cancellation of his British visa late last year.

In a letter dated Wednesday, the Sam Rainsy Party expressed concerns the fugitive Thai politician might be using Cambodia as a launch pad for a political comeback in Thailand, potentially jeopardising relations between the two countries.

"There has been much information about the presence of the former Thai prime minister in Cambodia since early January," the letter said.

"Because of concerns from Khmer citizens about the potential impact on the political affairs of neighbouring countries, we, as people's representatives, would like to ask Royal Government to make an official response."

On the run

Thaksin, who was ousted in a military coup in 2006 and convicted in absentia for corruption, is thought to be searching for a new home following the cancellation of his visa by UK officials in November.

At the time, Thai media speculated that the former premier was considering a move to China, the Philippines or the Bahamas, but recent reports in The Nation indicate the premier may have set up base in Koh Kong province.

SRP spokesman Yim Sovann could not be reached for comment Sunday, but Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said the rumours had no clear source and that their dissemination could affect the country's national security.

"There is no information confirming whether Thaksin has come to Cambodia or not," he said, questioning the opposition's use of The Nation's reports.

"This information could affect national security. Thailand could use this information to do something that we do not expect them to do."

Thitinan Ponsudhirak, a political analyst based at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, would not speculate on Thaksin's whereabouts, but said that his presence in Cambodia, if true, could develop into a serious diplomatic problem.

"If he is in Cambodia, using it as a political stagingground, it would have adverse ramifications - not only for Thai-Cambodia relations, but also within the Asean framework - because Thaksin is at the centre of the Thai political quagmire," he said by phone from Bangkok.

He added that Thaksin could still legally reside in Hong Kong, the US, Dubai and China, despite being blocked from Japan and Great Britain.

The SRP also sent a separate letter to Hun Sen asking him to investigate government officials named in a recent report from international watchdog Global Witness, which alleged high-level corruption in the Kingdom's mineral and oil industries.

According to the Constitution, the prime minister must respond to the opposition's letters within nine days.

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