Hun Sen’s surprise visit to Thaksin Shinawatra in Bangkok raises questions about Thaksin’s political future. The Cambodian leader’s arrival is sure to spark rumours about Thaksin’s role and influence.

Just three days after returning to his home in Bangkok and two days after visiting the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG), former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is set to entertain Cambodian strongman Hun Sen who is flying to the capital to meet him. The meeting between the two political leaders is certainly likely to fuel rumours. At length, speculation that Mr Thaksin’s future role may turn out to be a lot more active than previously thought.

Cambodian strongman Hun Sen flies into Bangkok on Wednesday to meet ex-Premier Thaksin Shinawatra. The meeting will be at his home in the Bang Phlat area of the city. The high-profile visit signals that Mr Thaksin’s future may not be one of retirement from politics as originally suggested when he returned home to Thailand on August 22nd 2023.

Former Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia is set to visit former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra at Ban Chan Song La, Thaksin’s residence in Bang Phlat, Bangkok.

The news comes just 48 hours after Thaksin’s return to his home on Sunday.

On Monday, Mr Thaksin, in a wheelchair, was taken for an early morning appointment with prosecutors at the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG).

Thaksin’s visit to the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) to pursue a plea for fair treatment after he learned on January 17th of a lèse-majesté charge

The 74 year old former Thai government leader on January 17th filed a plea for fair treatment. This came after it was confirmed that a 2016 charge of lèse-majesté under Article 112 was being pursued against him.

This is related to an interview given to a South Korean newspaper in 2015.

Thaksin hit with a bombshell as police pursue lèse-majesté criminal charge against him from 2016

At Criminal Case Office 8, Thaksin’s lawyer put forward his position as to why charges should not be pursued against him.

Afterwards, it was reported that Mr Thaksin himself could not speak. A spokesman for the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) Mr Prayut Phetkun said Mr Thaksin was introduced to the public prosecutor in the case.

It was agreed that further inquiries into the matter will take place.

In the meantime, Thaksin was released on a ฿500,000 surety. He is to return at 9 am on April 10th to hear the Attorney General’s decision on the matter.

The case may be dropped, proceeded with or even further enquiries undertaken at that time

Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) spokesman told reporters that Thaksin could not speak and appeared to be quite ill on Monday morning during his visit

Mr Prayut told reporters afterwards that the ex-premier looked decidedly ill in addition to being wheelchair-bound.

Thaksin was granted parole on Sunday morning having served half his already commuted sentence.

This was despite not spending a single night in prison having been evacuated to the Police General Hospital in Bangkok on the night of August 22nd 2023.

The visit from Hun Sen, who handed over power to his son Hun Manet in 2023, is bound to raise eyebrows. Hun Manet, Cambodia’s newly installed Prime Minister, visited Thailand two weeks ago.

He had extensive talks with PM Srettha Thavisin. The talks extended to a disputed area in the Gulf of Thailand between the two countries.

The intractable dispute has been drawn out for many decades but Thailand is particularly keen to access what are thought to be vast gas and oil deposits.

A joint agreement has long been promised but has proved extremely difficult to iron out.

Hun Sen still wields real power in Cambodia 

At the same time, Hun Sen is still thought to wield power in Cambodia.

The 71-year-old Cambodian strongman and near dictator has ruled the neighbouring kingdom for four decades.

Concerns have been raised about Thailand’s security cooperation with Cambodia. In particular, the arrest and detention of political activists before Hun Manet’s visit on February 7th.

There is also mounting anxiety about Cambodia’s closer military links with China.

Nevertheless, Thaksin Shinawatra has maintained ever deeper and warmer ties with Hun Sen and his family.

Before his return to Thailand last August, Mr Thaksin and his sister, former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra attended a family birthday party for the Cambodian leader.

Hun Sen crushed the opposition in Cambodia’s 2023 General Election in what was a widely discredited and sham affair not recognised by Western countries

Thaksin’s youngest daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra is the leader of the ruling Pheu Thai Party. She is widely tipped for a more powerful role in government in the coming years.

Cambodian opposition leader arrested in Bangkok as Hun Sen’s long reign of coercion continues
Ex-PM Thaksin finally returns home to his residence in Bangkok after 17 years away, released on parole

Hun Sen and his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won a crushing victory in last year’s General Election.

This was widely discredited and considered a sham.

He later handed over power to his son and key military commander, Hun Manet.

The family is now seen as a Southeast Asian ruling dynasty. At the same time, Cambodia has increasingly fraught relations with the United States and Western allies.

Visit is a worrying sign for those who wish to see Thaksin retire into obscurity to be with his family. The ex-premier galvanises opposition from the right

The planned visit is scheduled for  Wednesday, February 21, 2024.

It follows Thaksin’s meeting with the Attorney General’s Office, on Monday where concerns about his health were raised.

Hun Sen, known for his close relationship with Thaksin, will personally travel to Thaksin’s residence at Soi Charansanitwong 69.

Reports confirm Hun Sen’s arrival in Thailand at 10:30 a.m., with a direct visit to Thaksin planned immediately upon arrival. The return trip is scheduled for approximately 2:00 p.m. amidst heightened security measures by the Metropolitan Police Bureau.

The visit underscores the enduring bond between the two political figures.

However, it will raise a red flag for critics regarding Thaksin’s future activities.

Prior to his return in August 2023, the former PM indicated he wanted to retire and be with his grandchildren.

The concern is that Thaksin, a divisive figure and lightning rod for conservative activists, will provoke further division if he is seen to re-engage with politics.

Certainly, in the last week, the opposition Move Forward Party has warned that Mr Thaksin may emerge as a second Prime Minister in the shadows.

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Further reading:

Ex-PM Thaksin finally returns home to his residence in Bangkok after 17 years away, released on parole

Thaksin on the verge of returning home to his family after early prison release has now been approved

Ex PM Thaksin hit with a bombshell as police pursue lèse-majesté criminal charge against him from 2016

Thaksin can serve the rest of his prison term at home says Deputy Prime Minister Somsak Thepsutin

Former PM Thaksin up for release on October 13th as his prison status becomes more controversial

Mr Thaksin helicoptered to Police Hospital at 3am after feeling ill says Department of Corrections

Police worry for Thaksin’s safety on Tuesday after he lands at Don Mueang

Fears of political betrayal abound as Thaksin plans to touchdown at Don Mueang Airport on Tuesday

Thaksin and Pheu Thai have burned their bridges with its national ‘family’ and loyal support base