Exiled PM spotted in Thai northeast, keeping hands clean

Remember the former PM named Shinawatra elected by the people and ousted by the military only to live in exile to avoid jail time for a politically charged conviction?

No, the other one.

Fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is back in people’s hands now that he’s donated funds to the opposition Pheu Thai Party to produce bottles plastered with his face for distribution in the northeast, a party MP said yesterday.

Somkid Chuakong, who represents Ubon Ratchathani, said Wednesday that tens of thousands of bottles had already been given away to residents in his and other Isaan provinces including Yasothon and Amnat Charoen. Each province received 15,000 bottles, according to Somkid, since they are suffering a severe shortage during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

A smiling Thaksin is printed on every bottle, along with a message reading, “My thoughts are with all Thai people. From Thaksin Shinawatra, the 23rd prime minister of Thailand.”

Thaksin was first elected to the premiership in 2001 and reelected for an unprecedented second term before being deposed by the military in 2006. He was convicted in absentia of graft and has lived in self-imposed exile ever since.

A year after Bangkok was paralyzed by street protests by his Redshirt supporters, mostly from the northeast exactly 10 years ago, his sister Yingluck Sinawatra was elected prime minister in 2011. 

Her government was overthrown in 2014 by her army chief and Thailand’s current prime minister, Gen. Prayuth Chan-o-cha. She was convicted of graft and has lived in self-imposed exile ever since.

Once the figurehead for Thailand’s opposition, 70-year-old Thaksin was eclipsed last year by the rising political fortunes of Thanathorn Juangroonruangkit and his Future Forward Party, at least until he was ousted from politics through a politically charged court decision.

An image of Somkid Chuakong gives a hand sanitizer bottle to a local in Issan. Photo: Somkid Chuakong / Facebook
An image of Somkid Chuakong gives a hand sanitizer bottle to a local in Issan. Photo: Somkid Chuakong / Facebook

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