Thailand’s powerful Shinawatra clan set to visit Hong Kong days ahead of national polls
- The family, led by self-exiled patriarch and deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, will be in the city for the wedding of his youngest daughter
- Thaksin’s sister Yingluck, another former prime minister who was also deposed in a military coup, is also expected to attend
Instead, the family led by self-exiled patriarch Thaksin Shinawatra will be in the city for the wedding on Friday of Paetongtarn “Ing” Shinawatra – the former prime minister’s youngest daughter – to Pidok Sooksawas, a professional pilot.
The siblings – both linchpins of their political bloc – frequent Hong Kong and use the city as a base for meeting Thai politicians.
Expectations are high that the event will be an extravagant affair, with guests flying in from around the world. The couple held their traditional engagement party in Bangkok on Sunday, with Thaksin speaking to the couple via video link.
Later he said on Instagram he was looking forward to the festivities in Hong Kong.
“Today was another special day for me as my daughter Ing got engaged to Por,” he said, using Pidok’s nickname.
“There is no other happiness greater than to see the happiness of one’s children,” the 69-year-old wrote. “May you be happy my child, and we shall meet at your wedding in Hong Kong [and] I will have one more son-in-law.”
Yingluck meanwhile posted a picture of her brother viewing the engagement party via video link, seated in front of a laptop.
“The two of you don’t just make your family very happy. I am also very happy to see that both of you love each other so much,” wrote Yingluck.
Supporters flooded the Instagram feeds of Ing, Thaksin and Yingluck with well wishes.
One commenter wrote in response to Yingluck’s post featuring her brother: “I cry when I see this. Wishing everyone can come together as a family in the homeland once again.”
Thaksin has three children: Panthongtae “Oak” Shinawatra, Pintongtha “Aim” Shinawatra, and Ing.
The three siblings and their mother Pojaman Damapong own 60.4 per cent of SC Assets, a major housing developer that is part of the clan’s vast business empire.
The family’s investment firm Rende developed the Rosewood Bangkok property, where Sunday’s engagement party was held.
The police officer-turned-telecoms billionaire has been in self-imposed exile since 2008, while Yingluck left the country in 2017. The siblings say they have little choice but to remain in exile after being slapped with multiple corruption and negligence charges which they claim are politically motivated.
Thaksin was deposed as prime minister by a coup in 2006 after coming to power in 2001. His sister held the same office from 2011 until the coup in 2014 by current junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is seeking to remain in the top job with the help of the pro-military Palang Pracharat Party.
Thaksin has in recent months avoided public commentary about Pheu Thai, which is the latest political vehicle of the rural-backed populist movement he founded in the late 1990s. It is loathed by the country’s establishment elite, and previous political parties linked to the Shinawatras have been banned.
The junta issued veiled threats of banning Pheu Thai after Thaksin spoke about the party’s chances in interviews with Japanese media in Hong Kong last year.