Here’s a reminder — as if any were needed — of how influential (and controversial) Thaksin Shinawatra remains here in Thailand.

Apparently national police chief Priewpan Damapong recently paid a visit to the exiled former prime minister in Hong Kong. Priewpan was reportedly on holiday and wanted to visit Thaksin — his ex-brother-in-law — on the ousted PM’s birthday.

Priewpan is now taking heat for the one-day trip, with Thaksin critics saying the visit was unethical — and that Priewpan should have arrested Thaksin.

The Bangkok Post reports today:

National police chief Priewpan Damapong has come under fire after leaving the country to meet fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Hong Kong.

Anti-Thaksin critics said Pol Gen Priewpan either breached the law or seriously violated professional ethics in failing to arrest the former leader.

As national police chief, Pol Gen Priewpan had to arrest Thaksin when he met him, they claimed.

Thaksin is in self-imposed exile to escape a two-year prison term for helping his wife purchase a plot of state land in Bangkok during his stint as premier.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung Wednesday responded to the criticism saying he did not think Pol Gen Priewpan violated any law by meeting his former brother-in-law, who is celebrating his 63rd birthday in Hong Kong today.

“Why was it inappropriate?” Mr Chalerm shot back when asked to comment by reporters.

He said Pol Gen Priewpan had taken leave to travel to Hong Kong, and could not be considered to have failed to perform his duty because the national police chief had no duties to perform overseas.

Our laws do not apply in Hong Kong,” Mr Chalerm said.

There’s more from The Nation.