Thai photographers stake out Mandarin for glimpse of Thaksin on election watch

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 December, 2007, 12:00am

The billionaire former Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra (pictured with his coiffured wife Pojaman) - deposed in a coup last year and perhaps better known in the city these days as the owner of English Premier League team Manchester City - is in town to watch his home country's elections on Sunday.

Thaksin stays at the Mandarin Oriental and his imminent arrival saw a phalanx of mainly Thai photographers standing guard around the hotel.

A spokeswoman for the hotel said she would never comment on which guests chose to stay there but did confirm the presence of an unusual number of photographers and journalists since Thursday. That was the day Thaksin's lawyer, Noppadon Pattama, had said his client would be arriving to watch the election. 'He can get news wherever he stays, but of course the short distance is better,' he said.

The former leader in self-imposed exile faces corruption charges in Thailand but seems to like Hong Kong and its shopping and is frequently pictured loaded down with bags of designer goods. There was even a rumour, dismissed by Mr Noppadon, that he paid HK$210 million for a townhouse last year.

While we can't confirm he will be able to see a live feed of Thai news at the Mandarin for Sunday's elections, he will be able to catch his team's game against Aston Villa from 11pm on Saturday night.