By Surasak Tumcharoen
BANGKOK, July 22 (Xinhua) -- The ruling Thai military has paid its respect to former Thai leader Yingluck Shinawatra by allowing her to travel to Europe despite her facing negligence charges in connection with her government's rice program.
Chulalongkorn University political scientist Chaiwat Khamchoo said that top Thai ruler Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha has allowed Yingluck, along with her son, Supasek Amornchat, to travel to Europe from July 20 to August 10 for humanitarian reasons and as a sign of respect and to give honor to a former head of government.
The respected academic said that Gen. Prayuth, head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), may have perceived Yingluck as "politically harmless" and think that she will return after her European tour during which she might meet her brother, former Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra, somewhere as widely speculated.
Yingluck was among dozens of former Pheu Thai (for Thais) Party legislators and ex-cabinet members who had reported to the NCPO following the May 22 coup which ousted her elected civilian government.
They had been told to stay away from political activity and not to travel abroad unless allowed by the military rulers.
"It should be no surprise for Yingluck to take the opportunity to see her brother abroad. The NCPO could effortlessly predict such ordinary phenomena and finally gave her the permission to leave for humanitarian reasons," said the academic.
Chaiwat said that neither Yingluck nor Thaksin had made political moves following the bloodless coup and the former lady leader who had abided by the NCPO orders would be the same after she returns from her overseas tour.
She would eventually come back to defend herself in court over the duty negligence charges lodged against her by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) involving a rice subsidy program that her government had implemented, the academic said.
The anti-graft agency, which charged that the ex-premier had failed to combat corruption over the populist rice program, is yet to forward the case to Supreme Court judges in charge of lawsuits against politicians through the Office of Attorney General.
Noticeably, Yingluck had sought permission from Gen. Prayuth to travel overseas long before the NACC decided to indict her, Chaiwat said.
"It's a long way to go before the court would issue a ruling on the case. Whether or not the accused had been involved in corruption should be thoroughly considered in relation to the duty negligence charges," the academic said.
He said that it was unlikely that Yingluck would renege on her promise to return to Thailand after her European tour just because of the looming lawsuit against her.
A few days prior to last Sunday's departure for Europe, Yingluck criticized the NACC for merely holding hearings from witnesses who had been obviously biased against her and refused to listen to those who may have spoken in her defense.
The Pheu Thai-led government had purchased an average of 500 U. S.dollars for a ton of rice from farmers but large volumes of rice had gone missing from rented warehouses with dealers in alleged collusion with corrupt officials and the former premier has been accused of not doing anything to stop them.
Earlier, the military junta has ordered the Bank for Agriculture &Agricultural Cooperatives to give an estimated three billion U.S. dollars in overdue payment to the farmers.