The former Prime Minister of Thailand, Yingluck Shinawatra, who fled the nation, may seek asylum in the UK.
Thailand has been gripped with rumors of the Shinawatra’s whereabouts since she absconded from her own trial.
Shinawatra was the first female Prime Minister of Thailand. Hailing from a wealthy family, she was a businesswoman before she turned to politics. Her brother Thaksin Shinawatra also served as the Prime Minister of the nation. His tenure, which lasted from 2001 to 2006, came to end with a military coup. He fled the country and has lived in self imposed exile to avoid his sentence in prison.
Pheu Thai Party nominated Shinawatra to be their candidate and she became the country’s Prime Minster in 2011. Despite having won by a landslide, Shinawatra was met with mass protests by citizens by 2013. At the time, she asked for the dissolution of the Parliament triggering an election and she continued on as the caretaker-Prime Minister. In 2014, the Constitutional Court of Thailand removed Yingluck Shinawatra from the office. She had been found guilty of abusing her power.
Shinawatra is currently on trial for allegedly misappropriating funds from a rice subsidy scheme that she introduced while she was the Prime Minister. Farmers under this scheme were paid close to twice the market rate for their crops. Critics of Shinawatra said that through this scheme the government gave away billions of dollars to its voter base. According to the current leadership, the losses incurred due to these subsidies amounted to £6 billion.
Media reports in Thailand revealed that rather than appearing in court to face trial, Shinawatra fled the nation. She had paid a bail of 30 million baht ($900,000) when the trial began.The Supreme Court also alluded to this by noting, “We don’t think that the defendant is ill. We think that the defendant is hiding or has fled ... We have pushed back the verdict date to 27 September. She asked for sick leave not to show up today.”
According to members of her own political party, Shinawatra is currently in Dubai. She is said to be reflecting on her future and on whether she plans on returning to Thailand. She, along with her son, is said to have flown to Cambodia, and then to Singapore before reaching Dubai. A source within the Pheu Thai Party spoke to ABC news saying, “Ms Yingluck is in Dubai with Mr Thaksin and will seek asylum in England. It was not a sudden decision, she knew that she will get a harsh punishment by the military government.”
If she is found guilty, then she faces up to 10 years of jail time. Shinawatra is reportedly mulling over a decision to seek asylum in the UK in order to avoid imprisonment.
Our assessment is that if Shinawatra flees Thailand, then the political career of the dynasty will effectively be over.