A spokesman for the Hun Sen government on Thursday denied reports that fugitive former Thai premier Yingluck Shinawatra had been given a Cambodian passport, but a critic of the Cambodian strongman said it couldn’t be ruled out in view of his ties to Yingluck’s billionaire brother.
Media in Hong Kong, citing business records, have reported that Yingluck had used a Cambodian passport to register a company in the former British colony, now an autonomous Chinese city.
The AFP news agency said the document lent weight to reports that Yingluck, deposed in a coup in 2014, went through Cambodia when she fled Thailand in August, 2017, after a graft conviction of running a rice subsidy scheme that cost Thailand billions of dollars.
Cambodian Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said that Yingluck’s name does not appear on the list of registered passports kept by the country’s interior ministry and that the Hun Sen government was not involved in granting a passport to Yingluck.
“The ministry of interior doesn’t recognize the passport as reported in the media,” he said. He declined to comment further on the case.
Efforts by RFA’s Khmer Service to seek comment from officials at the passport department were unsuccessful.
In August, 2017, a source close to an aide of Yingluck told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service that she fled Thailand through Cambodia, shortly after she failed to appear in court to hear a verdict in the rice-subsidy scheme that could have sent her to prison for 10 years.
The source said that Yingluck had traveled through Thailand’s Trat province, about 320 km (200 miles) south of Bangkok, before crossing into Cambodia to board a plane that took her to another country.
Senior junta officials said Yingluck skipped bail and fled the country via Cambodia, but the government in Phnom Penh has always denied this, AFP reported.
Publicly available corporate filings in Hong Kong show Yingluck used a Cambodian passport to register as director of a company called "PT Corporation Company Limited" on August 24, 2018, the agency said.
Cambodian analyst Lao Mong Hai, however, told RFA’s Khmer Service on Thursday that it would not be surprising if Yingluck had a Cambodian passport because Hun Sen had close ties to her family including her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, also a deposed former Thai premier living in exile.
“We shouldn’t wonder about it because the family has close relationship with Hun Sen,” he said.
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Paul Eckert.