PHNOM PENH: Fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra accused his country’s rulers of “false patriotism” as he delivered a lecture in his new role as Cambodia’s economic adviser today.
The billionaire, ousted in a 2006 coup and living abroad to avoid jail for graft, addressed some 300 members of business and government at Cambodia’s finance ministry amid tensions over Phnom Penh’s refusal to extradite him.
“I see a lot of synergy between your country and mine. What is good for you will also be good for my country. Of course not all my compatriots see it that way right now,” Thaksin said.
“I do not believe those who do not share our vision right now are myopic. Their domestic political compulsions force them to false patriotism. Let’s pray that they too will one day appreciate this partnership for the best,” he added.
Security officials ushered reporters out of the room three minutes into the Thaksin lecture titled, “Cambodia and the World after the Financial Crisis”.
Cambodia outraged Thailand yesterday by rejecting its request to extradite Thaksin, saying the charges on which the ousted Thai leader had been sentenced in absentia to two years in prison were politically motivated. Cambodian Finance Minister Keat Chhon praised Thaksin’s reduction of rural poverty and introduction of universal healthcare in Thailand as “eye-catching policies that distinguished him from his predecessors”.