Yingluck’s escape: A big leap forward

WHILE it’s still unknown whether the government has deliberately let fugitive former PM Yingluck Shinawatra slip out of the country, political analysts say whatever the answer, the bottom line, which is more important, is that it’s positive and would bring prosperity to Thailand in the long run.

One of the short term indicators, the Stock Exchange of Thailand’s Index (SET index) has shot up to this year’s all time high breaking the 1,600 barrier from 1,575 to 1,618 last week after being side-ways for most of the time.

“On that day, the North Koreans fired an inter-continental ballistic missile into the sea of Japan and most markets in the region reacted negatively while the Thai market surged.’’

It has been three years since a military coup deposed Yingluck Shinawatra, who was then prime minister.

The coup came as many Thais opposed Yingluck’s government over alleged corruption and trying to pass an amnesty bill to pave way for her elder brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was also charged with corruption for aiding his wife to buy a piece of land and then fleeing the country, to return to his homeland.

Not knowing whether she would face jail term or not, Yingluck decided to flee the country before a court verdict, despite pledging all the way during months of court’s proceedings that she would stay to defend her innocence.

Yingluck, who became Thailand’s first female prime minister when her party swept elections in 2011, is accused of negligence in overseeing a money-losing rice subsidy program.

Yingluck’s whereabouts were not immediately known but it’s reported that she travelled by land to Cambodia then flew to Dubai to join her brother, Thaksin.

Although Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha denied any conspiracy theory that his government let Yingluck go, he said  it was beyond his expectation.

The media gave it so much attention but so far until today, there is no clue as to how Yingluck fled the scene.

Many political analysts however said whoever let her flee or how she fled is not that important but the ramifications are huge. The bottom line, they said, is that it means the end of the Shinawatras’ political future and most likely Phue Thai Party.

Plew Sringern, a political columnist at Thai Post newspaper, wrote in his popular column saying Yingluck fleeing the country means the end of hers and his brother Thaksin’s political influence.

“Most of his supporters and Phue Thai members would be starved as the money flow from Thaksin would then be stopped and that’s the end of everything.”

The popularity of Yingluck has been severely shaken as her supporters had admired her move to stay and fight her case in court and portrayed her as Thailand’s Aung San Suu Kyi.

Other influencers on the social media also thought along this line and pointed out that the division among the Thai people who oppose and support the Shinawatra family would end, paving way for a more stable political scene after years of violence.

The election is expected to be held next year and it’s unlikely that the Phue Thai would be able to come back with their boss enjoying life overseas in exile, a scenario which is not agreed to by the Phue Thai, whose key members are facing jail terms and charges at the moment.

On the economic front, things are expected to get better as foreign investors are more confident over Thailand’s political future.

Foreign investors are coming back to Thailand to invest in the new tech-related Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), among them Airbus and many electric vehicle and robot manufacturers.

More than 500 Japanese firms, led by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Investment (METI), will visit Thailand mid-September for further trade and investment cooperation, the biggest team ever.

The move is part of activities to celebrate the 130th anniversary of Thai-Japanese diplomatic relations and highlights opportunities for investment and business expansion, especially in the EEC.

So overall, it would be a big leap forward for the country but aside from politics, Thailand also needs to seriously address its corruption and education problems, said the source.

Top: A supporter of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra holds an image of her with her brother, ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, before Yingluck arrived at the Constitutional Court in Bangkok on August 5, 2016. Photo: AFP/ Lillian Suwanrumpha via Asia Times

By Kowit Sanandang


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