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Extracted from The Nation


Pojaman also loses diplomatic passport; CNS asks broadcast media not to report about him


Former premier Thaksin Shinawatra has had his travelling privileges curtailed, following calls for tougher action against him.


The junta also moved to stop him using the media to orchestrate political trouble.


The Foreign Ministry revoked the diplomatic passports of Thaksin and his wife Pojaman after an inquiry concluded he had engaged in political activities while in exile, a senior ministry official said yesterday.


The ministry has also instructed all its embassies not to facilitate Thaksin's travels and visits, said deputy spokesman Kiatthikhun Chartprasert.


Council for National Security (CNS) secretary-general Winai Phattiyakul, and assistants Saprang Kallayanamit and Anupong Paochinda, told some 50 editors of the broadcasting media in a meeting yesterday not to report Thaksin's activities.


CNS chief Sonthi Boonyaratglin yesterday lectured some 300 senior police officers, including police chief Kovit Wattana, about the CNS' new moves and stringent policies, especially in dealing with anticipated anti-coup movements. He instructed the police to be more active.


The move to revoke the deposed premier's diplomatic passport came after criticism of the junta that it was too lenient in dealing with Thaksin, allowing him to travel around the region to meet his supporters.


"Taking into consideration the appropriateness and security concern, the diplomatic passports of Thaksin and [his] wife have been revoked since December 31, 2006," Kiatthikhun said.


Thaksin, however, is permitted to to carry an ordinary Thai passport that will enable him to travel abroad but without the privileges of the diplomatic one with the red cover.


On Tuesday, the ministry instructed the Thai consulate in Hong Kong and the Thai Embassy in London to notify the Shinawatras of the decision.


With the exception of Asean members, a number of countries require a pre-approved visa for Thai passport holders.


The issue of revoking Thaksin's passport cropped up almost immediately after he was ousted by the September 19 coup.


Thaksin has been visiting a number of neighbouring countries, including China, Japan and Indonesia, as well as Hong Kong, where he was believed to have met some of his close aides.


Suspicions that he was plotting a political comeback rapidly surfaced and kicked off a debate among coup leaders, diplomats and senior officials.


The Foreign Ministry has consistently downplayed the demand on the grounds that all former prime ministers and foreign ministers were permitted to hold on to their diplomatic passports for life.


The junta accused Thaksin of orchestrating what they called an "undercurrent" to create trouble for the people in the power.


The issue became public when Deputy Foreign Minister Sawanit Kongsiri informed the National Legislative Assembly in a closed session that the ministry had already terminated the diplomatic passports of Thaksin and his wife.


On November 16, the ministry revoked the diplomatic passports of Panthongtae and Pinthongtha, Thaksin's first two children. Youngest daughter Paethongtarn diplomatic passport expired earlier and was not extended.


Thaksin yesterday let it be known he would not only stop all political activity but would also offer the junta his assistance to facilitate trade with foreign businesses for the Kingdom while he was abroad.


Sopaporn Kurz


The Nation

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