THAILAND’S deposed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is reportedly a Cambodian passport holder, a Hong Kong newspaper reported, fuelling speculation that she fled the country via Cambodia.
The report from the South China Morning Post comes amid strong denials by Phnom Penh that Yingluck had used a Cambodian passport to avert sentencing in her home country over criminal negligence charges which she claimed were politically motivated.
The paper cited corporate filings which revealed the 51-year-old leader has used a Cambodian passport to register as the sole director of P.T. Corporation Company in the city in Aug 24 last year.
The filing came almost a year since she went into exile ahead of the sentencing for the case.
The Cambodian government had earlier denied issuing any travel papers to Yingluck when she left Thailand under mysterious circumstances. At the time, Yingluck was supposedly under 24-hour surveillance of Thailand’s military government.
After she fled, a Thai court sentenced her to five years imprisonment for mishandling rice subsidies amounting to billions of Thai Baht.
The documents on the company’s incorporation in Hong Kong is among the first to publicly shed light into Yingluck’s business dealings since she went into exile.
While the nature of the business of the company was not clear, Yingluck was appointed chairwoman of Shantou International Container Terminals, a Guangdong-based port operator, barely four months after she set up the company, the SCMP reported.
“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, was quoted as saying
However, Chong said Yingluck may have acquired the passport as the neighbouring country Cambodia was an “easy option”.
“If you want to travel relatively inconspicuously, having a passport such as a Cambodian one would be easy in that sense,” Chong said. “Clearly as neighbours, this could become an issue of contention.”