Former PM Yingluck reported to have Cambodian passport
Her latest Facebook photo shows off her splendid New Year's rose bouquet, but the revelation of her Cambodian passport has caused equally red faces amongst the Thai government and her political allies alike. (Main photo FB/Y.Shinawatra)
Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra is the holder of a Cambodian passport, the South China Morning Post has learned, adding weight to the theory she fled Thailand in 2017 via Cambodia, despite strenuous denials by Phnom Penh.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused to comment on the report.
"Sorry, we don't have any information on this," Busadee Santipitaks, director-general of the Department of Information at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the Bangkok Post.
A source within the Pheu Thai Party told the Bangkok Post that Wednesday's report was groundless and that Yingluck did not use a Cambodian passport when she fled.
The source said Yingluck - despite holding many passports of other nations - used a Thai passport to enter Dubai and the United Kingdom, until the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cancelled that passport in October 2017.
"She used her Thai passport [until it was cancelled] because she did not want to cause any problems for countries that issued her passports," said the source.
Corporate filings in Hong Kong revealed Yingluck, 51, had used a Cambodian passport to register as the sole director of PT Corporation Co, a firm incorporated in the city on Aug 24 last year, almost a year to the day after she went into self-imposed exile ahead of a sentence for criminal negligence.
The filings also contradict the claims by the Cambodian government that it had not issued any travel papers to her when she left her country under mysterious circumstances, while supposedly under the 24-hour surveillance by the military government. Yingluck has since been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for mishandling rice subsidies, charges she rejected as political persecution.
The Hong Kong company’s incorporation is among a set of the first publicly available documents revealing her business dealings after avoiding the limelight since fleeing Thailand.
It is not clear what business the company is in. But just four months after she set up the company, Yingluck was appointed chairwoman of Shantou International Container Terminals, a Guangdong-based port operator, other documents show.
“If it is an official [Cambodian] passport, the question would be, how does someone like Yingluck get the passport?” said Chong Ja Ian, a professor of foreign policy at the National University of Singapore.
But Mr Chong said it made sense for her to have acquired it because Cambodia was an “easy option … just across the border”.
“If you want to travel relatively inconspicuously, having a passport such as a Cambodian one would be easy in that sense,” Mr Chong said. “Clearly as neighbours, this could become an issue of contention.”
Attempts to reach Yingluck were unsuccessful.