Welcome to an episode of mystery and intrigue surrounding one of Thailand’s most notable figures – former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has found himself the lead character in a tale that oscillates between a medical drama and a political thriller.
Once stepping off the plane at Don Mueang Airport on that fateful day in August, a cheer could be felt rippling through the crowd of supporters. Their ex-prime minister, now turned patient-in-chief, became the subject of intense speculation and debate. The latest twist? The Hospital That Became A Home.
The Department of Corrections has sounded the alarm: Thaksin is wrestling with a myriad of afflictions so severe that a stint in Bangkok Remand Prison could be a downright danger to his life. On August 23, under the shroud of silence and amidst rising public suspicion, he was spirited away and ensconced within the sterile sanctuary of Police General Hospital.
Thaksin’s usual residence had to be swapped for a hospital bed because his laundry list of maladies requires the kind of constant attention that only specialist equipment and vigilant monitoring can provide. In other words, the Medical Correctional Hospital’s gear just wasn’t quite up to scratch.
Despite his notable absence, the gears of verification are turning, with a House committee playing detective, intent on unearthing the truth behind Thaksin’s condition. Yet they’ve been told upfront that the 14th floor – Thaksin’s current domain – is off-limits, as is a virtual hello via video call.
As the days ticked on past the critical 120-day mark of December 21st with nary a peep, the plot thickened. Finally, the Department of Corrections broke the silence, revealing that officials at Bangkok Remand Prison had inquired after the 74-year-old’s health. The hospital’s cryptic reply conveyed that Thaksin was in the midst of a medical marathon, with no finish line in sight.
In a classic bureaucratic ballet, the department tiptoed around regulations and rights, vowing adherence to the treatment rules for convicts on the outside while also guarding their prized patient’s privacy like a state secret.
A confidential informant, otherwise known as a doctor, whispered to the House committee that Thaksin’s inner workings were beleaguered by high blood pressure, constricted arteries, and the ever-looming specter of hepatitis B. Undergoing dual surgeries shrouded in enigma, details of his condition remain as elusive as the man himself.
Despite reassurances that any complications would be met with swift action, opponents have decried the extended hotel-hospital stay, planning a weekend-long protest at the nexus of Thai power – Government House.
Amidst protests, Thaksin remains a polarizing figure, with some branding him the scapegoat of corrupt politicos – though the details are as murky as the waters of the Chao Phraya.
Thaksin’s odyssey began with his return to Thai soil last year, after a decade and a half of self-imposed nomadic life. Awaiting him? A prison sentence for his time in office, neatly bundled with a royal pardon that shaved off some years. As of February 22, the whispers of parole hover in the air.
The plot continues to unfold as Thailand watches, waits, and wonders about the future of the ailing Thaksin, confined to his hospital stronghold – his fate, much like this story, hanging in the balance.