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More on Thaksin’s Imminent Return

by Joshua Kurlantzick
April 24, 2012

Former Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra (front L), welcomes his supporters during a ceremony in Siem Reap province, Cambodia, April 14, 2012. Former Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra (front L), welcomes his supporters during a ceremony in Siem Reap province, Cambodia, April 14, 2012. (Samrang Pring/Courtesy Reuters)

Over at New Mandala, there is a detailed report by longtime correspondent Nick Nostitz of Thaksin Shinawatra’s visit to Cambodia during the Thai New Year. For followers of Thailand and Indochinese politics, it is well worth a read.

As with Nostitz’s prior reports and books, this one is full of on-the-ground details, but what struck me the most was the intense feeling poured out by some of the Thais who traveled to meet Thaksin, the kind of emotion I previously associated in Thailand with Thais’ meetings with, er, a man whose title ends with “Nine.” That is not to say that these same supporters hugging Thaksin and crying care only for Thaksin, or that Thaksin, when in power, was a moral and wise leader. But it does show, once again, that in trying to push Thaksin out of Thai politics, demonizing him (i.e, former foreign minister Kasit Piromya comparing Thaksin to Hitler and Mussolini), and trying to downplay the intense emotional connection many northern and northeastern Thais feel with Thaksin, Thaksin’s opponents actually have in some ways inflated the man’s myth and intensified the bonds that those supporters feel. The backfiring of this demonization of Thaksin is evident in Nostitz’s reporting.

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