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Thailand’s ex-PM Thaksin hospitalised after imprisonment

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra greets his supporters after landing at Bangkok´s Don Mueang airport on August 22, 2023. — AFP
Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra greets his supporters after landing at Bangkok´s Don Mueang airport on August 22, 2023. — AFP 

After being imprisoned upon his return from a 15-year exile, former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was transferred from prison to a police hospital on Wednesday, according to officials.

The 74-year-old, who served as Thailand’s premier twice before being overthrown in a 2006 coup, was transferred from prison quarantine to a police hospital shortly after midnight because of severe health issues. 

The fact that Thaksin arrived home on Tuesday coincided with the Pheu Thai party’s return to power in a power-sharing arrangement with pro-military parties sparked widespread rumours of a deal to shorten his prison sentence.

A statement from Sitthi Sutivong, a spokesman for the prisons department, stated that late on Wednesday night, prison medical staff reported Thaksin was experiencing insomnia, high blood pressure, and low blood oxygen levels.

“He has several diseases that need to be taken care of — in particular heart diseases, and the prison hospital does not have the right equipment,” Sitthi said. 

“The doctor said that to avoid the risk that could endanger his life, he should be sent to the Police hospital.”

After landing in Bangkok, the billionaire ex-PM was ordered to serve jail sentences he had missed during his absence. Thaksin had long argued the cases were politically motivated but was willing to face justice to return home and see his grandchildren in his old age, AFP reported.

Loved by millions of rural Thais for his populist policies in the early 2000s, Thaksin is reviled by the country’s royalist and pro-military establishment, which has spent much of the past two decades trying to keep him and his allies out of power.

Pheu Thai’s Srettha Thavisin was approved as prime minister yesterday — the party’s first premier since Thaksin’s sister Yingluck was thrown out in a coup in 2014.

Property mogul Srettha heads a controversial coalition that includes the parties linked to the coup-maker generals who ousted Thaksin and Yingluck.

The new coalition shuts out the upstart progressive Move Forward Party (MFP), which rode a wave of youth and urban discontent at nearly a decade of military-backed rule to score a shock victory in the May election.

But MFP’s reformist push to amend royal defamation laws and tackle business monopolies spooked the kingdom’s powerful elite, and the party’s leader Pita Limjaroenrat was blocked from becoming prime minister.

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