British Ambassador to Thailand Quinton Quayle said Tuesday that he would not comment on “rumours” about the United Kingdom granting a visa for fugitive ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Although the envoy refused to say any further and the British Embassy remained officially tight-lipped over the report, informed embassy sources told The Nation that “there is no truth in the story” whatsoever.
The report was first seen on the Matichon website, prompting a flood of inquiries to the embassy on Monday.
The British ambassador said he would not comment on unfounded rumours and, half tongue-in-cheek, told reporters to question Matichon newspaper instead if they wanted any more information.
“I will not comment on unfounded rumours. You should ask Matichon Newspaper,” he said.
The ambassador was speaking at the Human Trafficking Awareness Day event at Bangkok’s Swissotel Nai Lert Park.
In answer to questions about the issue, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva referred to the ambassador’s remarks and said that granting visas to foreigners was each country’s domestic affair, and that Thailand could not interfere.
Abhisit also refused to confirm if the extradition agreement that Thailand has with the UK would make it easier to bring Thaksin back. He just smiled.
Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the UK has some exceptions in granting visa to foreign people who are contributing to the UK’s business or having residences in the country.
However, police and attorney officers in charge of the case are doing their job, just as for other cases, he said.
Deputy government spokesman Puttipong Punnakan said if Thaksin is really allowed to stay in the UK, it would be easier for Thailand to find him and get him back to serve penalties as Thailand and the UK have an extradition agreement.
Pheu Thai MP for Lop Buri Suchart Lainam-ngern said he had said he met Thaksin last month but nobody summoned him for investigation of Thaksin’s whereabout. It was although the government threatened to arrest Thaksin if he delivered speech in Hong Kong.
“The former prime minister also asked me to tell (Thais) that Thaksin would return to Thailand within six months to one year. He also said the only mistake he made was signing to allow his (then) wife to buy the (Ratchadaphisek) land,” Suchart said.
Suchart said he did not know whether the UK granted visa for Thaksin. He did not talk to Thaksin’s spokesman Pongthep Thepkanjana, either.
Thaksin’s younger brother Payap said he did not know about Thaksin’s visa as he had just came back from abroad.
Attorney-general spokesman Thanapit Mulpruek said the attorneys have contacted Hong Kong consular office for Thaksin’s extradition but it depended on Hong Kong’s laws and processes. They did not stop seeking Thaksin’s address, either.
Reference: The Nations