Thai ex-PM Thaksin weak, 'happy' after detention release

The ex-premier is happy and in a good mood but still weak after his release from hospital detention, the nation’s prime minister said

Reuters
Published : 24 Feb 2024, 10:08 AM
Updated : 24 Feb 2024, 10:08 AM

Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Saturday that ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra was happy and in a good mood but still weak after his recent release from hospital detention.

The 74-year-old billionaire, whose family's party has regained power, was released on parole on Feb 18 after six months in detention, his first day of freedom in his homeland 15 years after he fled a military coup that had deposed him.

"There wasn't not much talking. He's still weak but his arm can move a bit," Srettha told reporters, adding that Thaksin, who left the hospital with his arm in a sling, was in a good mood and smiling. "He's happy to be home."

Thaksin has been at the heart of a two-decade power struggle between his family and its coterie of capitalist upstarts, and a nexus of royalists, generals and old-money families that have long wielded influence over Thai governments and institutions.

He faced years in prison on his return from exile on charges of graft and abuse of power, which he denies as politically motivated. On his first night in jail, he was transferred to the luxury wing of a police hospital, where he served his detention. Doctors said he had experienced tightness in his chest and high blood pressure.

Thailand's king in August commuted Thaksin's sentence from eight years to one year, of which he served half.

Speaking after visiting Thaksin at the billionaire's Bangkok residence, Srettha said he did not talk about how the influential ex-premier would help the country. Thaksin encouraged him in his work but they did not discuss politics, Srettha said.

"I didn't talk about how he would help the country. But he is concerned about the country... as there are a lot of economic problems," the prime minister said.

Thaksin's return last year coincided to the day with ally and political newcomer Srettha being chosen prime minister, leading many to suspect a deal between Thaksin and his powerful enemies in Thailand's royalist-military establishment.

He and the government, led by the Shinawatra family-backed Pheu Thai Party, have dismissed such speculation.