Thursday, February 28, 2008
ormer Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra returned to Bangkok this morning after 17 months of exile following his overthrow in September 2006 by coup d'etat. With his proxies now in government after last December's elections, it is time to fight the corruption charges against him.
Thaksin flew in from Hong Kong, landing at 9:50 this morning at Bangkok's new Suvarnabhumi International airport which was thronged by several thousands of his supporters. In the following video captures we see the event as broadcast by Thai TV channel 11 and the new Thai Public Broadcasting station. Watch for our new Interior Minister, the notorious Chalerm Yoobamrung, shaking his fist in victory before his hero emerges from the VIP rooms to kiss the ground. Thaksin blesses the throng with a ten second greeting before heading to his car.
He brought along two of his footballers (he now owns the Manchester City club) to help soak up the glory. Finally comes his arrival at the Supreme Court to surrender to the law. He has been a fugitive from several court cases, and was held briefly in the court's custody until his daughter put up the 8 million baht bail (around a quarter million dollars). After this he went to the headquarters of the Crime Suppression Division for an appointment with prosecutors, and on to the Attorney General's office to be notified of his charges in another case, where he submitted another application for bail. Second bail granted at one million baht.
He isn't going home though, electing instead to reside at the Peninsula Hotel. Commentators discussed this in relation to security concerns, noting that the Peninsula has several escape routes including by river. There were more than 600 police officers at the airport this morning, but so far no untoward incidents. A press conference is expected this afternoon. The country's current pugnacious Prime Minister, Samak Sudaravej has been nowhere to be seen, so far.
The Nation kept a running play-by-play of the days events here. The Bangkok Post has a run-down of the various corruption and abuse of power cases against him here.
And now, on with the show!