What's Next for Deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra?

When she censured Thaksin for his business dealings, Shin Corp. sued her for $10 million, equal to 2,500 years' worth of her annual pay.

By hook or crook, Thaksin has deftly headed off criticism in the past -- bouncing back from crises time and again.

In an interview with the BBC, Thai political economist Dr. Pasuk Pongpaijitr said that although a homecoming seemed unlikely in the short term, "there's always a possibility he'll return one day."

The only question is when and how.

Speaking to ABC News, a Thai embassy spokesperson said that "Mr Thaksin is free to travel wherever he likes and welcome to return to Bangkok whenever he wants."

As for any plans to indict him on criminal charges, the spokesperson said that "such decisions will be made by the new civilian government, not by the military leaders."

For now, Thaksin's professed plans seem limited to what his statement called "work on research, on development, and possible charity work for Thailand."

Given his yen for a showy lifestyle, though, it is unlikely that Thaksin will fade into the wilderness.

Like many deposed heads of state, he owns a property in London, based at the posh Dorchester Hotel.

He is reported to have one daughter studying at the London School of Economics, and another at a private school in the country.

He even made a failed bid to buy Liverpool's football club two years ago.

All of which suggests that he is extremely well-disposed to spending his exile in Britain.

Although the Foreign Office would not comment on the length of his stay here, a spokesperson said that "he would certainly be entitled to apply for U.K. residency, but there is no suggestion of him doing so at the moment."

If Thaksin chooses to stay in London, he will have plenty of company from the ranks of overthrown heads of state.

Constantine, the former king of Greece, has lived here since a military coup in 1967.

Benazir Bhutto, a former Pakistani prime minister, began her first political campaign from London, and now finds herself here again in exile.

Despite facing corruption charges in Pakistan, she continues to fight for power, even joining forces with former political foes.

Could Thaksin's plea for "national reconciliation" among all parties be a sign of similar collaborations to come?

Or will he assume the flamboyant "retirement" adopted by his fellow exiles from Southeast Asia, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, who escaped to Hawaii from the Philippines 20 years ago?

Whatever direction Thaksin chooses, he is unlikely to go quietly.

Speaking to reporters outside his London home, he said that he was here to "stay with my daughter. That's it."

Anyone who has followed Thaksin's career history so far, however, should expect his return to center stage before long.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 5209711.
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...