Thailand’s Ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra Returns Home After Parole Release

Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has returned to his mansion in Bangkok following his release on parole. The billionaire, convicted of corruption and abuse of power, was freed from a police hospital where he served a one-year jail term.

Thaksin, aged 74, was immediately detained upon his return to Thailand last August after spending 15 years in self-imposed exile. Despite being sentenced, he did not spend any time in jail due to reported health issues.

His original eight-year prison sentence was reduced to one year by Thailand’s king shortly after his return from exile.

The handling of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s case is facing backlash from many Thais who argue that the rich and powerful receive preferential treatment. The Move Forward Party, which secured a majority of seats in the last election but was prevented from forming the government by the Senate, emphasized the need for a democratic system ensuring equal application of the rule of law and justice for everyone, without privileged treatment for the affluent.

Senator Somchai Swangkarn questioned the basis for Thaksin’s parole, expressing skepticism about the reported illness and urging transparency regarding the former PM’s health condition.

On Sunday, Thaksin Shinawatra was observed departing from the police hospital in the capital, where he had been residing for the past six months.

“Congratulations to PM Thaksin on his return home to Chansongla this morning,” government adviser and former energy minister Pichai Naripthapan shared on social media following Thaksin’s release. “I hope he will enjoy good health and find much happiness and warmth with his beloved family,” he added.

Thai authorities stated that Thaksin was granted parole due to his age and health concerns. However, they did not specify if any conditions, such as monitoring or travel restrictions, were attached to his release.

Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin informed local reporters that he currently had no plans to meet with Thaksin. However, he noted that “everyone in the government is prepared to listen” if Thaksin wished to offer political advice.

Thaksin, Thailand’s most successful elected leader, has long been a source of concern for conservative royalists who have supported military interventions and legal challenges to undermine his influence. He went into exile in 2008 following his removal in a coup two years earlier, spending most of his years abroad in London or Dubai. The Pheu Thai party, led by his family, is currently in power in Thailand.

As a former telecommunications magnate, Thaksin remains a highly polarizing figure in the country, disliked by many of Bangkok’s affluent elite but beloved by millions of impoverished rural Thais for his populist policies. He made history as the first prime minister in Thailand to lead an elected government through a full term in office from 2001 to 2006.


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