The Shinawatra family has been enjoying more than birthday cake in Hong Kong with revelations that a property deal there netted the clan a 75 million baht windfall.
Thaksin Shinawatra has sold his three-storey home in the King's Park Hill estate of Hong Kong, shown in this photo on Saturday from a real estate agent's website, (Homes.Mitula.hk). Thaksin bought the home in 2007 for a reported US$27 million, said to be a record Asia price.
Property filings obtained last week confirm that a 183 million baht mansion in the prestigious King's Park Hill area of Kowloon, owned by Thaksin's daughter Paetongtarn since early 2009, was sold to a Hong Kong private company for 258 million baht early last year - a return of 41%.
The former billionaire was in a celebratory mood this week as he marked his 63rd birthday with a bash in a Kowloon hotel, flanked by several hundred Thai political allies.
Grinning and stretching his arms to embrace friends and supporters under the chandeliers of the ballroom in the new Mira hotel, Thaksin praised the role Hong Kong had played in his years on the run following his ousting in a military coup in 2006 and a two-year jail sentence on abuse of power charges that followed in 2008.
Thai courts seized 47 billion baht of the Thaksin family fortune in 2010, leaving him with an estimated 18.9 billion baht of investments scattered around the world.
''This [Hong Kong] is the place,'' Thaksin said. ''I always come to the place where I can meet with my supporters and friends,'' he said, adding that ''going home is not that serious ... I don't care that much''.
Thaksin said he was ''just a tourist'' on his latest week-long trip to Hong Kong. However, he has been holding talks with a range of political allies and government officials ahead of a cabinet reshuffle being planned by his younger sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
His visitors in Hong Kong reportedly included Thai national police chief Priewphan Damaphong, Thaksin's former brother-in-law. Pol Gen Priewpan's visit has intensified speculation that Thaksin is calling the political shots, rather than his sister.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung has defended Gen Priewpan, insisting that he had taken leave and that ''Thai laws did not apply in Hong Kong''.
There is no extradition treaty between Hong Kong and Thailand.
Reports last week said that Thaksin had vowed to return home soon, but on Thursday he said he had no such expectations: ''If you really hope for something soon, then time will seem so long, so I don't expect anything.''
Thaksin denied that that his party's plans to change Thailand's constitution was part of a strategy to bring him home, possibly through an amnesty that could also return his fortune.
The Constitution Court ruled earlier this month that the government must seek a national referendum before making changes to the charter.
Thaksin said proposed constitutional changes are not meant to bring him back or to create further divisions but ''to develop Thai politics to move towards a more mature democracy''.
He added: ''We're not going to split the country. We are not going to do anything to increase the conflict.''
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- Writer: Post Reporters