Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Yingluck Shinawatra escape via Cambodia mere ‘rumour’, officials say

Yingluck Shinawatra escape via Cambodia mere ‘rumour’, officials say

Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra gives out alms in a merit-making ceremony at her residence in Bangkok in a photo posted on Wednesday.
Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra gives out alms in a merit-making ceremony at her residence in Bangkok in a photo posted on Wednesday. Facebook

Yingluck Shinawatra escape via Cambodia mere ‘rumour’, officials say

Cambodian officials yesterday dismissed media reports that former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra fled the country to Dubai via Cambodia ahead of a court decision, saying they had “no record” of such activity and calling the reports “rumours”.

Yingluck was scheduled to appear at the Thai Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders on Friday but failed to show up. The court was going to announce a decision on her alleged negligence in a rice-pledging scheme that ended up costing the country $8 billion.

After she didn’t appear in court, border officials told the Bangkok Post that they were quite certain Yingluck had left Thailand by sea. The officials and another source with the Royal Thai Navy speculated that Yingluck could have boarded a speedboat from Rayong to an island such as Koh Chang, Koh Kood or Koh Laoya, in Trat province, before travelling on to Cambodia.

Officials in Pursat province in Cambodia yesterday said Thai officials had closed an illegal border crossing in Mueang district in Trat province on August 19, though they claimed it was for an unrelated issue.
Officials in Thailand, Singapore and Dubai didn’t respond to requests for comment yesterday.

The Bangkok Post also cited anonymous sources saying Yingluck got help securing a Cambodian passport in order to travel to Singapore in a private jet and later fly to Dubai, where her older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted as prime minister in 2006, is now believed to be living in self-imposed exile.

However, Cambodian officials denied the claims of Yingluck making her escape through Cambodia. Chhay Buna, who is in charge of border checkpoints, claimed it was just a “rumour, and not true”.

“If Yingluck crossed the border, [she] may have been seen by other people around, but no one [saw her],” he said, calling the media “unprofessional” for not asking Cambodian officials to confirm the information.

“[They] only put their own analysis,” he added.

Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks to the media as she arrives at the Supreme Court in Bangkok earlier this month.
Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks to the media as she arrives at the Supreme Court in Bangkok earlier this month. Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP

Meanwhile, Sok Sophorn, deputy chief of the Passport Department, maintained his department only issues passports for Cambodian citizens. “Ms Yingluck [is] Thai, she is not Cambodian, so I don’t issue a passport to the foreigners.”

Sophorn said he would only investigate the claim that Yingluck received help obtaining a Cambodian passport if he was assigned to look into the issue by his superiors.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior’s Immigration Department, Lieutenant General Kerm Sarin, maintained there was no report in the system of Yingluck having departed to Singapore from Cambodia, or of her being issued a Cambodian passport.

“For the time being, we don’t have any report. There is no record,” he said. “We don’t have any record that Yingluck left from Cambodia to Singapore.”

Sarin added officials with his department were not in communication with Thai authorities as of yesterday.

Khek Norinda, spokesman for Cambodia Airports, only claimed officials had “no information about this case”, without answering specific questions. Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak couldn’t be reached.

If Yingluck is found guilty, she could face a maximum of 10 years in prison and a lifetime ban from politics.

Hun Sen is reputed to have close ties to Yingluck’s brother Thaksin, whom the premier in 2009 referred to as his “eternal friend”, offering a residence in Cambodia three years after Thaksin was convicted on corruption charges. That same year, the Cambodian government said it would not extradite Thaksin, with Hun Sen telling reporters that Thaksin could serve as his “economic adviser”.

Yingluck’s family has other ties to Cambodian politicians too. In 2013, the daughter of Yaowapa Wongsawat, another of Thaksin’s younger sisters, married the son of Cambodian lawmaker Seang Nam. Nam couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday.

If it were true that Yingluck fled through Cambodia, she wouldn’t be the first one to have escaped to the Kingdom. Jakrapob Penkair, a former minister and adviser to Thaksin who helped to found the country’s “Red Shirt” movement, fled to Cambodia a few years ago. He didn’t respond to a request for comment yesterday, but is still believed to be in exile in Cambodia.

Additional reporting by the Bangkok Post

MOST VIEWED

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Thai Senate delegates in Cambodia to discuss anti-graft co-op

    A delegation from Thailand's Senate was in Phnom Penh on September 28 to meet their Cambodian counterparts to discuss strategies for fighting corruption and enhancing cooperation. The Thai delegates were from its Senate’s Committee on Studying and Inspecting Corruption, Misconduct and Strengthening Good Governance. They

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a