Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai has downplayed remarks by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the leader of the Progressive Movement, who admitted that he met Thaksin Shinawatra, dubbed the de facto leader of the Pheu Thai Party, in Hong Kong after the May 14 general election.
Mr Phumtham, deputy leader of Pheu Thai, denied any knowledge of the meeting. "You should ask Mr Thanathorn and Thaksin. No one knows what really happened."
In a recent interview by well-known newscaster Sorrayuth Suthassanachinda, Mr Thanathorn, also a key supporter of the main opposition Move Forward Party (MFP), confirmed a report that he travelled to Hong Kong to meet Thaksin in July ahead of the formation of the government.
It was the first time he had confirmed the meeting took place following denials by key figures of the Progressive Movement and MFP at the time.
During the programme, Mr Thanathorn said that he met Thaksin before the formation of the government.
"I don't hold any political office. If I had made any political deals, the MFP could have been dissolved," Mr Thanathorn said, referring to laws barring outsiders from wielding influence over a political party.
Mr Thanathorn said only that he was proud to see the party continue to grow without him. "This goes to show that Move Forward is becoming a political institution, and it does not belong to any particular individual," he said.
The Progressive Movement emerged after the Future Forward Party (FFP), which Mr Thanathorn founded and served as leader, was disbanded over a loan he extended to the party, which the Constitutional Court deemed to be illegal.
When the dissolved outfit re-emerged as the MFP, its key figures -- who were banned from politics -- came together to form the Progressive Movement, which had been helping the MFP campaign for the election.