Former Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Has Left S’pore for Thailand on Humanitarian Grounds

For most people, jet-setting around the world may be a dream.

But maybe not if you’re the couple that had to go on the run after carrying out a $32 million scam operation.

Or if you’re the former president of Sri Lanka.

On Thursday, 11 August, ex-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa reportedly left Singapore, after his short-term visit pass expired.

His next destination is Bangkok, Thailand, where he was granted permission to enter and stay in the country for a period on humanitarian grounds.

Mr Rajapaksa was In Singapore for 28 Days

His month-long stay in Singapore started back in 14 July, after flying in from Maldives, his first destination following the protests on the economic state of Sri Lanka led him to flee his country.

Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Mr Rajapaksa was allowed entry into Singapore on a private visit that allowed him to stay for 14 days.

“It is confirmed that Mr Rajapaksa has been allowed entry into Singapore on a private visit,” Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. “He has not asked for asylum and neither has he been granted any asylum.”

His social pass was then extended by another 14 days, till 11 August.

Soon after, he probably realised his “loophole” to extend his stay every 14 days wouldn’t work indefinitely.

It was also within our borders that Mr Rajapaksa handed in his formal resignation for his presidency.

During his stay in Singapore, Mr Rajapaksa was not seen in public and kept a relatively low profile. This was not a surprise to some, as his entry into Singapore was also rather discreet, with some Sri Lanka nationals in Singapore failing to catch a glimpse of the former president at Changi Airport during his arrival.

He first resided in a hotel located in the city centre, but was later said to have moved to a private residence.

His Stay in Thailand Will Not Be Permanent Either

It looks like the former president shouldn’t settle down into the life of sipping Thai iced teas and indulging in green curry chicken too quickly, because the Thai government has also come forth with a statement emphasising that they have not granted him any form of asylum.

According to the Bangkok Post, the ousted leader was granted permission by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to enter the country on humanitarian grounds.

Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai also said that Mr Rajapaksa currently holds a diplomatic passport that will enable him to stay in the country for up to 90 days.

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Tanee Sangrat had also publicised the arrival beforehand by revealing in a social media post Wednesday that Thailand had received a request from Mr Rajapaksa to enter the country.

According to reports from the Bangkok Post, Mr Don had said that the Thai government believes Mr Rajapaksa’s stay would not cause trouble for Thailand, and that the Sri Lankan government had not opposed his entry into the country as well.

It is not currently clear how long Mr Rajapaksa intends to remain in Thailand or what his next destination may be.

So basically all our global leaders are playing a game of hot potato with the former Sri Lanka president until someone decides to adopt the man officially, or if he goes back to his country.

Why is He on the Run?

The island country in South Asia is currently in its worst economic crisis, and people aren’t happy with the Government— in particular, its president, 73-year-old Gotabaya Rajapaksa who is believed to have mishandled the economy immensely. The crisis has been ongoing since 2019, and but got worse due to COVID-19.

There had been protests in the country, but shit finally hit the fan when protestors managed to break into government buildings and even into Rajapaksa’s residence. This resulted in his decision to flee the country with his family.

Guess we’ll just have to wait and see which destination the former president’s escapade leads him to next, once his 90 days in Thailand is up.

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Featured Image: Ishara S KODIKARA/AFP, Unsplash