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Ex-PM’s no return a boost for Thai bourse


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August 11, 2008

Ex-PM’s no return a boost for Thai bourse
The stock market in Thailand saw its key index climb as high as 3.3 percent Monday morning amid hopes Thaksin's removal from the political scene would lower the chances of street clashes, or worse, between his supporters and opponents, reported Reuters.

Deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife Pojaman failed to appear Monday morning before the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions in a case involving an allegedly unlawful purchase of real estate.

Thailand’s benchmark stock index was up 17.24 points, or 2.5 percent, Monday morning while the main index rose as much as 2.97 percent to 711.20, its highest since July 15.

 Any market rise, however, would be limited as the index had started to factor in the Thaksin developments from last Thursday, Reuters quoted some analysts as saying. In addition, the

recent fall in oil prices and freight rates should prompt selling of energy shares and shipping firms.

Thailand Hote

Thaksin, in a hand-written statement released to the media, said Monday he will not return home to face graft charges but will remain in Britain, blaming political interference in the justice system.

Thaksin’s statement, which did not mention asking for asylum, was read Monday afternoon on state-run television NBT, formerly Channel 11.

Thaksin said his decision to leave Thailand again, less than six months after returning from post-coup exile, had been necessary because his enemies had been meddling in the judicial system "to finish off myself and my family".

"These are my political enemies. They don't care about the rule of law, facts or internationally recognised due process," he said.

Thaksin had been on bail of 8 million baht ($237,000). More than $2 billion of his assets remain frozen in Thai bank accounts. It is not known what will happen to that cash.

Thaksin and his wife Pojaman were in Beijing over the weekend for the opening of the Olympics, and rumours have circulated in Thailand that the pair would remain overseas as corruption cases mount against them.

Pojaman was convicted on July 31 of tax evasion and released on bail, and the couple had been ordered to appear before the Supreme Court on Monday to defend themselves in a separate property case.

The pair had to seek special permission from Thai courts to travel overseas since both face a raft of corruption charges that were instigated by the military junta, which overthrew Thaksin in September 2006.

Thaksin travelled to Japan on July 31, and his wife flew to Beijing to join him on Thursday. A former legal advisor close to Thaksin said they had both now flown to Britain.

Thaksin, a billionaire telecoms tycoon turned politician, spent 18 months in self-imposed exile after the coup, spending most of his time in Britain, where he owns a home.

His decision to flee rather than fight the potentially explosive corruption charges in court could mean the beginning of the end of the political turmoil that has dogged Thailand's government and markets for the past three years.

The telecoms billionaire owns UK football club Manchester City and has a property in a swish London district. At least one of his adult children is studying in London.

After his removal by the army in 2006, mainly on the pretext of "rampant corruption", Thaksin spent much of his time in the British capital, as well as in Hong Kong and Beijing.

Thailand's post-coup government looked into trying to extradite Thaksin under a bilateral criminal treaty signed with Britain in 1911 but never lodged a formal request.

The treaty, signed while Thailand was called Siam and ruled by an absolute monarchy, still applies today, although Thaksin would be likely to argue he was the victim of a political witch-hunt.

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