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Thaksin flying to England for Manchester derby
Publication Date : 27-04-2012
Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is scheduled to return to England for the first time since 2008 to watch Monday's crucial soccer game between Manchester United and Manchester City, his legal aide Noppadon Pattama confirmed yesterday.
British authorities shut Thaksin out in late 2008 after he was found guilty in the Ratchadaphisek land case. Before that, Thaksin had a luxurious residence in London and bought Manchester City Football Club, which he later sold to its current owners.
The UK Embassy here has kept a tight lip on the policy change towards Thaksin.
The decision to allow him back, however, coincided with him getting permission to enter countries such as Germany, France, Russia and Japan.
The British government will join its Japanese counterpart in making a late decision on Thaksin, albeit after his political party regained power in Thailand.
A source told The Nation recently that, thanks to the policy change of the British government, Thaksin could walk into any UK embassy to apply for a visa.
The Manchester derby game could decide which club would win this season's Premier League title. There are divided opinions about Thaksin among Manchester City fans. Some viewed him as a sincere investor in the club but others were highly sceptical about his political background and human rights records.
"Thaksin just wants to watch football and meet old friends," Noppadon told reporters. "There is no political motive."
Yingluck asks for Prem's help
Elsewhere, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday requested permission to consult Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda in the future on affairs of state, when the two met at Prem's residence, according to a Cabinet member.
The prime minister and her three deputies - Yongyuth Wichaidit, General Yuthasak Sasiprapha, and Kittiratt Na-Ranong - called on the elder statesman yesterday afternoon to offer good wishes for Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year.
Yingluck and her group arrived at Prem's Sisao Thewet residence at 3.25pm. They met Prem for about 15 minutes before the three deputy prime ministers left the reception room, allowing Prem and Yingluck to talk together.
Prem and Yingluck conversed for about half an hour before they rejoined the three deputies outside the house.
The elder statesman smiled while sending off his visitors, who left in the same vehicle for Government House.
A large number of reporters and cameramen gathered outside the compound, where about 100 policemen had been dispatched to keep the peace.
Before Yingluck's arrival, a man claiming to be a member of the "Democracy Lovers of Khon Kaen" protested outside the compound, holding a placard with a message calling for action over the deaths of 91 people killed during the 2010 unrest and riots. Police asked him to leave and there was no outbreak of violence.
At Government House after the visit, Yingluck brushed off a reporter's question on whether her meeting with Prem went well. She simply smiled and waved cheerfully to reporters while walking away.
Yongyuth, who is also leader of the ruling Pheu Thai Party, said Yingluck had told him she had offered more government assistance to Prem's charity projects, including those aimed at residents of the deep South.
"General Prem gave his blessing to the prime minister and wished her good health. He also asked her to take good care of the people," Yongyuth said.
He said the prime minister also asked Prem for permission to meet with him for future consultations as Prem was a senior respected figure in the country and a former prime minister with extensive political experience.
Yongyuth reiterated that Yingluck's meeting with Prem had no political significance. "There was only a cultural dimension, no political one," he said.