BANGKOK (Reuters) - New Manchester City owner and former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will lay on a slice of his homeland at Saturday’s friendly against Spain’s Valencia, with chart-topping singers and authentic eastern cuisine.
Thaksin’s Bangkok-based lawyer Noppadon Pattama said 20-year-old Thai R&B singer Saranrat Wisutthithada, who goes under the stage name Lydia, would serenade the Sky Blues faithful during the pre-season clash.
The club’s board and players would also be served two signature Thai dishes at a post-match reception: Pad Thai, a fried noodle combination, and Tom Yam Kung, a spicy prawn soup.
“They will have first-hand experience of the delicious taste of Thai food,” Noppadon told a news conference.
Noppadon also countered allegations by New York-based Human Rights Watch that Thaksin was unfit to own an English soccer club because of “serious human rights abuses” committed during a 2003 “war on drugs” under his leadership.
“There has never been a proper probe,” Noppadon said. “His Excellency has never ordered any official to kill anyone.”
At least 2,500 people were killed in the three-month anti-drugs crackdown, although police said the vast majority were drug dealers shot by other drug dealers.
Human rights groups disagreed, saying many victims were shot in the back after reporting to police stations to try to get their names removed from drugs blacklists.
Noppadon also played down accusations by an anti-graft body set up after the September coup that Thaksin, a telecoms tycoon before entering politics, may have bought Manchester City with money he stashed away while becoming “unusually rich” in office.
“Mr. Thaksin is rich and has accumulated his wealth in a usual manner,” Noppadon said.
The anti-graft body ordered commercial banks last month to freeze 73 billion baht ($2.16 billion) of Thaksin’s money in domestic accounts, accusing him of amassing wealth during five years in office by abusing his power.