Gotabaya Rajapaksa leaves Singapore for Thailand after short-term visit pass expires

SINGAPORE – Former Sri Lanka president Gotabaya Rajapaksa has left Singapore, after his short-term visit pass expired on Thursday (Aug 11).

Responding to media queries, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said on Thursday that Mr Rajapaksa left Singapore on Thursday.

On Thursday evening, Mr Rajapaksa boarded a flight from Singapore to Bangkok, after Thailand confirmed a day before that it had received a request from the current Sri Lankan government for him to visit the country.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told the media on Wednesday that permission was granted on humanitarian reasons, according to the Bangkok Post, while the nation’s Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said Mr Rajapaksa will enter the country with a diplomatic passport, which would allow him to stay 90 days.

Thailand is the second South-east Asian country Mr Rajapaksa is seeking temporary shelter in after he fled his island nation last month amid mass protests.

He flew to Singapore on July 14, via the Maldives, following unprecedented unrest triggered by Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis in seven decades, and days after thousands of protesters stormed the president’s official residence and office.

Shortly after he arrived in Singapore, Mr Rajapaksa, 73, tendered his resignation as the country’s leader.

Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had said on his arrival in Singapore that the former president had been allowed entry on a private visit on a 14-day visit pass and had not asked for asylum.

This pass was later extended for another 14 days.

While in Singapore, Mr Rajapaksa kept a low profile and was not seen in public.

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He initially stayed at a hotel in the city centre, but was believed to have moved to a private residence.

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

Mr Don said the Thai government believed Mr Rajapaksa’s stay would not cause any trouble for Thailand, and that the Sri Lankan government did not oppose the decision, according to the Bangkok Post.