Yingluck's EU invite 'meant to cause a stir'

Yingluck's EU invite 'meant to cause a stir'

Surapong slams idea of Pheu Thai ploy

Ex-premier Yingluck Shinawatra visited a market near her home selling krathongs. Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai says the invitation from two European Parliament members is a set-up to cause political problems in Thailand. (Photo from Ms Yingluck's Facebook wall)
Ex-premier Yingluck Shinawatra visited a market near her home selling krathongs. Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai says the invitation from two European Parliament members is a set-up to cause political problems in Thailand. (Photo from Ms Yingluck's Facebook wall)

An invitation for former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra to visit the European Parliament was a ploy to stir up political consequences in Thailand, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said Wednesday.

"It's unnatural. It is likely to have been set up," Mr Don told a radio programme, asking why an embattled Yingluck, ousted in the 2014 coup, is the only politician from Southeast Asia invited to visit Brussels, with not even Myanmar's democratic icon Aung San Suu Kyi extended an invitation.

"If it [the invitation] is rejected, there will be consequences," the minister said, without elaborating.

The letter, dated Oct 7 and signed by German European Parliament members, Elmar Brok and Werner Langen, referred to Ms Yingluck as khun, a polite Thai title used as an honourific, and asked her to "accept our invitation to an exchange of views on the situation in Thailand".

This could include her legal battle in the Supreme Court and the now-defunct National Reform Council's rejection of the first version of the draft charter, that has delayed the next general election by one year to 2017.

The chances of Ms Yingluck, currently on 30-million-baht bail in the rice-pledging case, taking up the invitation to talk to the European Parliament will ultimately depend on the Supreme Court, Courts of Justice spokesman Suebpong Sripongkul said on Tuesday.

Though it granted bail, the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office-Holders ordered Ms Yingluck not to leave the country without permission. It made the order when she answered charges related to her role in the loss-ridden rice-pledging scheme.

Apart from the court, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) also wants to check on the purpose of the visit, as debate over the letter's credibility and how the talk will impact the NCPO-run government is mounting, authorities said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee said the letter has been found to be genuine, but it is a personal invitation by two MEPs, not on behalf of the European Parliament.

On Wednesday, Surapong Tovichakchaikul, former foreign minister under the Yingluck government, hit back at Mr Don's earlier comments that the invitation was the work of lobbyists hired by Ms Yingluck's Pheu Thai Party.

"Minister Don should do his job by lobbying the EU to extend an official invitation to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to make a visit of his own if he thinks Ms Yingluck has lobbied for this visit," Mr Surapong said. 


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