Cambodian officials said they had no official word of a visit from Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday, despite Thai media reports that the exiled former premier of Thailand plans to travel to Cambodia soon to thank Prime Minister Hun Sen for his offers of a job and shelter.
Prime Minister Hun Sen’s comment provoked the Thai leadership last week by making public offers of an economic adviser position and a place to stay in Cambodia to Mr Thaksin, who faces two years in prison on abuse of power charges if he returns to Thailand.
The English-language Bangkok Post newspaper yesterday reported that Mr Thaksin plans to thank Mr Hun Sen in person, in an article quoting an unnamed source within the Puea Thai opposition party. According to that source, Mr Thaksin announced his intention to visit Cambodia during a live video feed at a party meeting.
“Thaksin said he would fly to Cambodia soon to thank Hun Sen,” according to the Post. “Thaksin said he and Hun Sen had been friends for a long time.”
That meeting of the newly formed Puea Thai also resulted in former Thai Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh being named chairman of the party, said the Bangkok Post.
It was during a lunch meeting with Mr Chavalit at the premier’s compound in Takhmau town last week that Mr Hun Sen first made his offer of hospitality to Mr Thaksin.
Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said that he had only learned of Mr Thaksin’s intentions of visiting Cambodia through the press.
“I cannot give you any dates. He did not inform us of when he’s coming,” Mr Kanharith said.
Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said that he had also read stories about the visit but had no official news from Mr Thaksin.
“It could be true, as the media says, because Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen has so far given the green light to him,” Mr Kuong said. “Right now we just cannot say when exactly he’s coming.”
The spokesman added that the Cambodian government has not yet received an official letter from Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, who reportedly promised earlier this week to send a note to Mr Hun Sen clarifying that Mr Thaksin is a wanted criminal in Thailand.
Kamrob Palawatwichai, first secretary for the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, said that he had not received any information about a visit from his country’s former leader.
Shortly after Mr Hun Sen’s offer of shelter, Mr Thaksin posted a thank-you note on the website Twitter but stopped short of formally accepting the invitation. He had not used Twitter to repeat his apparent promise to visit Cambodia by the end of yesterday afternoon.