Fugitive Thaksin eyes Fiji as shelter : reports
FUGITIVE billionaire former Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra flew in his Learjet to Fiji for a secret meeting with the controversial prime minister and military commander Frank Bainimarama.
In return, he would probably be assured safety there from extradition, if he should choose to use Fiji as one of his bases in exile. Thailand is seeking to return him to Bangkok, where he faces two years in jail for abuse of power.
Mr Thaksin used an assumed name to enter Fiji, although his true identity was known to the authorities, who approved his visit in advance. The Thai government has cancelled Mr Thaksin’s Thai passport, and says he is currently using a passport issued by Montenegro.
Thailand’s deputy prime minister, Thaworn Sennian, said Mr Thaksin had earlier flown to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, where he stayed en route to Fiji. Thai embassy officials immediately sought Mr Thaksin’s arrest and extradition.
“Somehow, Thaksin managed to get wind of the impending arrest and escaped,” Mr Thaworn said.
Mr Thaksin was believed to be heading next for Tonga and then to Port Vila in Vanuatu, which is tomorrow hosting the annual meeting of the heads of the Melanesian Spearhead Group of countries — Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji.
The MSG meeting is important for Mr Bainimarama because he will not be able to attend this year’s Pacific Islands Forum summit in Cairns in August, as Fiji has been suspended from the Pacific body.
The Fiji economy is in considerable trouble, with tourism in a downward spiral globally as a result of the economic downturn, and with the other major industry, sugar, suffering from the withdrawal of subsidies from the European Union following the failure of the Fiji government to announce elections.
The major investor there this year has been Fiji’s own national provident fund, with some financially stretched smaller tourism operators seeking to exit but finding no buyers at present — thus reinforcing the attraction of Mr Thaksin’s business empire.
Mr Bainimarama’s military-installed government has said it will not hold an election until September 2014, providing Mr Thaksin with five years’ security if necessary, reinforced by the Fiji government’s control of the courts.
Mr Thaksin’s legal adviser, Noppadon Patama, said the stopover in Kuala Lumpur was merely in order to refuel the jet.
He said there was no attempt to arrest him in Malaysia. He said foreign leaders were willing to welcome Mr Thaksin because they understood the charges against him were politically motivated.
Thailand’s deputy foreign minister, Panich Vikitsreth, said extradition requests had been filed to Malaysia and to Australia, apparently in the hope Canberra could use its influence in Fiji.
But relations between Australia and Fiji have become increasingly strained, especially since Mr Bainimarama’s government in April abrogated the constitution, dismissed the judiciary, and ruled out elections for five years.
Deposed Thai PM eyeing Fiji, Tonga
Ousted prime minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra is eyeing Fiji as one of several potential asylum destinations, it has emerged.
Thaksin and his entourage arrived to the island nation on a private jet on Monday this week and was accorded – sources say – full VIP treatment.
The Thai politician –whose wanted in his country to answer corrupt charges – reportedly met Fijian leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama as well as other local government officials which included investment authorities
Details of those talks remained under wraps as Commodore Bainimarama left for neighbouring Vanuatu after his meeting with Mr Thaksin for this week’s one day retreat of leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
Contacted at his office today, Fiji government spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Neumi Leweni said he would need to check the information first.
Whether the Thai leader offered an investment package to Fiji in return for being accorded a safe haven, it could not be established.
What could be determined however was the route he took from his temporary base in Dubai.
His private plane stopped for refueling in Kuala Lumpur and Port Moresby before flying down south to Nadi’s international airport.
From Nadi, it was a short 20minute hop across the island to Suva, capital of Fiji.
After his meetings here on Monday, Mr Thaksin overnight at Suva’s luxurious Holiday Inn hotel before he flew off the next day.
Overseas media reports are suggesting that Thaksin is particularly looking for countries that do not have extradition treaties with Thailand.
Fiji and Tonga seemed to fit the bill. The island kingdom was Mr Thaksin’s next stop after his meeting with Commodore Bainimarama on Monday.
Another media report said the Thai politician who is a billionaire in his own right was offering an investment package of US$280 million in return for being offered asylum.
Mr Thaksin became Thai prime minister when his Thai Rak Thai party won the elections in 2001. After winning re-election in the 2005 general elections, he however was ousted from power by the Thai military on September, 2006.
He returned to Bangkok in 2008 but couldn’t return home following an overseas tour months later after he was tried in absentia and sentenced to two years in jail.
He has been looking for a safe haven since then using Dubai as a temporary base
Wanted Thai ex-PM visits Suva to meet regime
Reports from Fiji say the ousted Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, has been in Fiji amid speculation that he is seeking safety in a country with no extradition treaty with Thailand.
The former Thai politician, whose Thai passport has been cancelled, is wanted in Bangkok to answer corruption charges.
Pacnews says he met the interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, on Monday after arriving in his private jet from Dubai via Malaysia where, according to the Bangkok Post, he narrowly escaped arrest.
Thaksin reportedly spent a day in Suva before flying to Tonga yesterday.
There has been no comment from Fiji’s interim government about the outcome of the talks.
Pacnews says there has been a suggestion that Thaksin may have offered a substantial investment in return for a right to add Fiji to the places he can stay.
Thaksin: Fleeing a Thai coup leader to shake hands with a Fijian coup plotter
What a paradox. Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted by a coup in Thailand in 2006, flew into Fiji’s capital, Suva, yesterday to meet another coup leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who staged a coup in the same year — only to be ruled illegal by the court there…..(read more)
Fugitive Thaksin eyes Fiji as shelter : reports
Fugitive former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra flew in his Learjet to Fiji for a secret meeting with the controversial prime minister and military commander Frank Bainimarama, Fiji and Australia media reported Thursday.
Report: Ousted Thai leader Thaksin seeking Pacific asylum
Wellington – Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted prime minister of Thailand, is touring the Pacific seeking political asylum, according to a report Thursday on the Fiji-based Pacnews website.
Thaksin and an entourage were given the full VIP treatment when they flew Monday into Fiji on a private jet and reportedly met the Pacific island state’s military strongman, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, in the capital Suva.
The talks included other Fiji government officials, including investment authorities, Pacnews reported, but no details of the discussions were revealed. All media outlets in Fiji are subject to strict censorship by the military regime.
Currently based in Dubai, Thaksin reportedly spent a night at Suva’s Holiday Inn hotel before flying to the island kingdom of Tonga.//DPA