An arrest warrant has been issued for the former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, by the Supreme Court of Thailand. Failing to appear in court to hear her verdict in a two-year running trial due to an issue with fluid in her ear, as pleaded by her lawyer Norawit Lalaeng, the Supreme Court has seized her bail bond and issued an arrest warrant. The court believes that the news about her illness is fake and have decided upon 10 years of imprisonment and a lifetime ban from politics, under the constitution drafted by the military. Yingluck’s lawyer, when asked about her whereabouts, commented that she “may have left” the country.
Yingluck in her election campaign, in 2011, had promised the rice farmers a policy to buy their crop at double the market rates. The strategy behind this assurance was to stockpile the load of rice to increase the global market demand for rice hence upscaling its prices, after which Thailand being the leader producer of rice, can sell the load at a much higher cost. But the strategy became disastrous for Thailand when countries like India and Vietnam increased their rice production to fill up the existing void in the global market, causing the Thailand government with a loss over $15bn and left the country with huge amount of rotting rice. In 2015, Yingluck was found guilty in a separate impeachment by a military-backed legislature and was formally ousted from her designation with a 5-year ban from politics.
Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who is a telecommunication tycoon and the elected Prime Minister in 2001, had also suffered the same fate, being ousted in a military coup with reasons of corruption allegations. The Shinawatra family is a massively influential dynasty, which is adored by most of the poor classes of the nation but is loathed by the royalists and the martial elites in Bangkok. Since the fall of Yingluck government, Thailand had faced severe political and military turbulence, while the power was seized by a military junta and announced general Prayut Chan-o-cha as the head of the government.
The country’s political future was further smashed into pieces when the new king signed the nation’s 20th constitution, which entrenched the power in the hands of generals and monarchs.
The absence of Ms Yingluck in court, on the day of verdict hearing, had left some of the masses of her supporters speechless, while others still believed that she would rather fight back than flee her country. According to two sources close to Yingluck, one of them from her party Pheu Thai, had confirmed her departure from the nation, while local media reported that she is in Singapore.
The Supreme court had ordered more than 4,000 police and military officers and repeatedly warned against demonstrations. The police had set up series of barricades and checkpoints, while the prime minister commented that the administration didn’t want trouble. Despite such actions, huge number of supporters of Ms Shinawatra had arrived in front of the court to carry out mass demonstrations.
The Supreme court has rescheduled the verdict hearing on the 27th of September, which originally was due on Friday in Bangkok.
Article by Sushmoy Mallik.