Thailand checks with Cambodia, Singapore on Yingluck's whereabouts

BANGKOK: Thailand Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan said Friday he could not discount the possibility that former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra slipped out of the country two days ago via Cambodia enroute to Singapore as alleged by the media.

Gen Prawit, who is also the Defence Minister and minister responsible for internal affairs, nevertheless said that he had yet to receive any report regarding Yingluck.

"I don't know but I had followed the online media that said she has left the country. That could be true because there are many routes to escape (from Thailand)," he told reporters here Friday with regard to the mounting speculation on the whereabouts of Yingluck.

The media alleged that the younger sister of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra fled to neighbouring Cambodia through the Thai border town of Kho Chang two days ago before making her way to Singapore.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has also instructed the authorities to closely monitor all "normal and abnormal" exits points in the country.

"I thought she was a brave person," he said on the failure of Yingluck to appear in court today, adding that he had not received any report regarding Yingluck and her possible location.

Meanwhile, Deputy National Police Chief Gen Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul said the police had contacted their counterparts in Cambodia and Singapore on the allegation, but had yet to receive any confirmation about the matter from both countries.

"Yes, we have contacted them (Cambodia and Singapore), but no confirmation as yet," he said, adding that there are possibilities that the former premier could have escaped through the natural border.

Srivara, who was met at the Supreme Court, said the police would take heed of the arrest warrant against Yingluck and "catch her".

Yingluck, 50, the first female Thai Prime Minister, was to have attended the Supreme Court hearing Friday to hear its verdict on her involvement in the controversial rice-pledging scheme, but failed to show up, sparking intense speculation as to her whereabouts.

Her brother, Thaksin, also fled Thailand to escaped court action in 2008.

Lawyer, Norrawit Larlaeng, who represented Yingluck, cited health problems as the reason behind her absence today when met by the media after the court adjourned.

The court did not accept the reason and issued an arrest warrant against the former premier, who faces the prospect of up to 10 years in jail if found guilty. Following Yingluck's absence today, the court agreed to postponed the verdict to 9 am on Sept 27.

Meanwhile, the country's top immigration official insisted there was no sign former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has fled the country as speculation mounted that she had slipped out of the kingdom to escape court action.

According to Lt Gen Nattathorn Phrousunthon, there was no immigration records showing she had left the country.

"There is no immigration record that she has left the country. Yingluck is actually banned from travelling abroad since 2015," he said when contacted here. — Bernama