MPs denied access to Thaksin
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MPs denied access to Thaksin

Details sought on ex-PM's hospital stay

Chaichana Detdecho, Democrat MP, led the panel. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Chaichana Detdecho, Democrat MP, led the panel. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Members of the House committee on police affairs were not allowed to see convicted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra during their inspection of the Police General Hospital yesterday.

They sought to find out whether Thaksin was indeed receiving treatment at the hospital following the approval of the visit on Monday.

Committee chairman and Democrat MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat Chaichana Detdecho and other panel members arrived at the hospital in Pathumwan district at 10am.

The panel had contacted the hospital to arrange the inspection and assess the treatment of prisoners, including 74-year-old Thaksin.

Thaksin was reportedly admitted to the 14th floor of the hospital's building on his return to Thailand on Aug 22.

Mr Chaichana said the inspection was conducted under Section 129 of the Constitution, granting the committee the authority to investigate issues that raise public doubt.

He sent a letter to the national police chief, Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol, who oversees the hospital, seeking permission for the inspection.

The committee chairman said in the letter that the panel wanted to examine the procedures for treating inmates at the hospital and ensure equal treatment for all prisoners.

He added that the visit aimed to address lingering public doubts about Thaksin's treatment since his reported admission to the hospital. The MP said the committee would strictly adhere to the legal framework during their visit.

"We [the panel] intend to inspect the hospital to the extent permitted, and that is all," said Mr Chaichana. "If the information we obtain can clear all public doubts, our task is finished. If the answers are incomplete, relevant agencies -- the Police General Hospital and the Department of Corrections -- must explain to society."

He insisted the panel's visit was not politically motivated but aimed at addressing public concerns. He added that clear explanations from the two agencies were necessary to avoid them being viewed badly by the public.

A source said the committee members went to the 14th floor but stopped short of visiting Thaksin. They spoke with hospital officials at a front desk counter before proceeding to the 7th floor to visit other patients.

The source added that the committee members also met a nurse who told them that Thaksin was also diagnosed with heart valve regurgitation, in addition to several other illnesses.

Pol Col Sirikul Srisanga, spokeswoman for the Police General Hospital, previously said that the hospital would not allow members of the House committee to go to the 14th floor where Thaksin is staying.

They would be only allowed to inspect the standards and procedures for the detention of prisoners outside the prison at the hospital, but their visit must not infringe upon patients' rights, she said.

Thaksin has been allowed by the Department of Corrections (DoC) to stay on at the Police General Hospital despite reaching the maximum allowed 120 days of inpatient care on Dec 22.

A day before the House panel's visit, the DoC said the former prime minister was seriously ill and must remain in the hospital as putting him back in jail could endanger his life.

The department said on Thursday that it moved Thaksin to the hospital on Aug 23 because he needed continuous treatment and observation for many illnesses that required close monitoring.

Demonstrators led by the Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand gathered outside the Government to protest Thaksin's extended hospital stay.

Protest leader Phichit Chaimongkol said the group is keen to know what illnesses he is suffering from. "Are the illnesses so critical he needs treatment outside prison?" he asked.

Thaksin returned to Thailand on Aug 22 after 15 years of self-imposed exile. He was immediately sentenced to eight years in prison in three cases, later reduced to one year by a royal pardon.

He was sent from Bangkok Remand Prison to the Police General Hospital on Aug 23 for health reasons and has been there since.

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