BANGKOK: Thailand’s influential ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was released this week from detention, was visited on Wednesday (Feb 21) by former Cambodian leader Hun Sen, one of the tycoon’s closest allies during his 15 years of self-imposed exile.

Political heavyweight Hun Sen, the self-styled strongman of Cambodia, was prime minister for nearly four decades until handing over to his son last year.

Hun Sen provided the billionaire with sanctuary during his exile, naming him a special advisor and allowing him to visit frequently and meet allies in Cambodia, frustrating Thaksin’s rivals, who saw it as interference by a neighbouring country.

The activities of Thaksin, a towering figure over Thailand’s tumultuous politics, are being closely watched amid expectation he will exert influence on a government led by his family and allies, as he did while in self-imposed exile to avoid jail after being toppled in a coup.

Thaksin was freed on parole on Sunday due to his age and health, with the 74-year-old since seen wearing a neck brace, padded sling and using a wheelchair. A senior official who met him said he was “truly ill”.

“Two former prime ministers met and didn’t talk about politics,” Hun Sen posted on Facebook, with an image of him sitting on a sofa next to a sombre-looking Thaksin wearing arm and neck supports.


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