• Lexi Ponder

Thailand’s former leader seeks political asylum

Thailand’s former Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is seeking political asylum in the United Kingdom, according to sources within her Pheu Thai Party. According to CNN, “Thailand’s Supreme Court convicted Yingluck on Sept. 27, 2017, of dereliction of duty over a controversial rice subsidy program and sentenced her to five years in prison. The scheme cost the country billions of dollars.”

ABC informed that “the rice subsidy run by the Yingluck administration was an extreme version of a policy that has been used by generations of Thai government to control prices around harvest time and boost support amongst farmers…Ms. Yingluck ignored repeated warnings that the scheme was being exploited.”

The bail for Yingluck was about 30 million baht ($900,000) after her trial began in 2015. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said to CNN that she was discovered to have been hiding in Dubai, where her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, had been living in exile. However, about two weeks ago it was confirmed that Yingluck had left for London.

According to ABC, it looks like Yingluck will be facing up to 10 years in jail if she is found guilty. Yingluck’s former commerce minister was also sentenced, but he is facing up to about 42 years in jail for corruption. Yingluck was not only impeached but also “was banned from politics for five years and last month had her bank accounts frozen while the junta seeks $1.1 billion in damages for the rice scheme.” It was also shown that the critics of the “junta,” or military governing body, believe that this case was politically motivated.