Populists’King: Thaksin back in the USA…go shopping
NEW YORK: Fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra landed in New York on Tuesday, local time, and went for dinner at a downtown restaurant where supporters and opponents greeted him in a small kerbside demonstration.
The Thais who showed up at Pongsri Restaurant to greet Thaksin on Tuesday were mostly good natured and no incidents were reported. (Post Today photo)
Thaksin appeared to be accompanied by three Thai bodyguards in the typical red shirts. He was greeted by the owner and staff of the Pongsri Thai restaurant in the central Manhattan section of New York City.
As he ate, a couple of dozen Thais were on the pavement outside. A few of the hand- and foot-clappers favoured at Bangkok rallies were seen, both in yellow and red. One Thai woman had a combination red-yellow clapper.
There were no incidents or confrontations, and the Thais who went to greet Thaksin at Pongsri restaurant were mostly good-natured.
Thaksin was in New York to attend the United Nations the night the army overthrew him in September, 2006.
Since he fled the Supreme Court verdict in 2008, the ex-premier has visited almost every other country with major ties to Thailand, but has not returned to the US until now.
The most extreme reaction to his US visit came several weeks ago from ex-foreign minister and yellow shirt supporter Kasit Piromya, who suggested Thailand should break relations with Washington if US authorities allowed Thaksin to visit.
Thaksin arrived in New York on Tuesday, local time, on a flight from Europe.
There has been no word from Washington on how he obtained a visa, or got past Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at the New York airport, since US law bans convicted felons from receiving visas or entering the US.
On the other hand, the US government can give waivers. It was not known if this had happened in Thaksin’s case. It also is unknown whether he used his Thai passport or one from another country.
Thaksin is in the US “to see friends in New York and Los Angeles,” according to his spokesman and legal adviser in Bangkok, Noppadon Pattama. No schedule of the Thaksin visit has been issued.