CAMBODIA’S Prime Minister Hun Sen has denied rumours former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra used Cambodia to flee Thailand, local media reported.
According to The Nation, Hun Sen, without elaborating on the matter, made the denial at a closed-door meeting with some 4,400 garment workers at Koh Puch Grand Theatre in Phnom Penh on Sunday, Cambodia’s Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said.
“Yingluck did not use Cambodia to escape: Hun Sen,” the minister said on Facebook.
Yingluck, 50, who is the sister of ousted former prime minister Thaksin, fled the country last week ahead of a court verdict in a negligence case. She was elected Thailand’s first female prime minister in 2011.
She skipped Friday’s hearing, stunning thousands of supporters gathered at the Supreme Court, with senior party members having said she fled to Dubai. The government has not confirmed where she is.
Thailand’s Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said on Tuesday the government had no immediate plan to revoke Yingluck’s passport.
SEE ALSO: Yingluck’s convenient Thai escape
Yingluck holds two Thai passports – one regular and another diplomatic – and is also thought to hold a third, foreign one.
“The issue has not reached the Foreign Ministry yet,” Don told reporters when asked if the ministry would revoke her passports.
“This foreign minister is not yet handling this.”
A ministry spokesman said he could not confirm whether Yingluck holds a foreign passport.
Thaksin holds a Montenegrin passport. He was ousted in a 2006 coup and fled Thailand to avoid a 2008 jail term for graft related to a land case he called politically motivated.
He has a home in Dubai but travels frequently, particularly to Singapore and Hong Kong, to meet his three children and grandchildren, members of the Shinawatra family have said in social media posts.
Yingluck was forced to step down days before a May 2014 coup, after a court found her guilty of abuse of power. She faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of mismanaging a rice subsidy scheme that was a flagship policy of her administration.
The plan bought rice at above-market prices and was popular with farmers in the north and northeast, regions that have historically supported the Shinawatras.
Critics denounced the scheme as an expensive exercise in shoring up electoral support in the countryside.
It led to unsold rice stocks of as much as 18 million tonnes, caused Thailand to lose its crown as the world’s top rice exporter and led to losses of US$8 billion, says the ruling military government.
Aides say Yingluck, who pleaded innocent to the negligence charge, left Thailand after receiving information she would be given a heavy sentence.
The Supreme Court will now deliver its verdict on Sept 27.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is also head of the junta and led the 2014 coup against Yingluck’s government, said Yingluck could rally the opposition from abroad.
“I’m worried because people still give importance to her,” Prayuth told reporters at Bangkok’s Government House.
The military government has promised to hold a general election next year.
Additional reporting by Reuters