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Thaksin Shinawatra’s Emotional Return to Nakhon Ratchasima: A Legacy of Loyalty and Hope

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On a rather ordinary Saturday, the tranquil skies of Chalerm Phrakiat district in Nakhon Ratchasima were pierced by the sleek silhouette of a private jet. But this was no ordinary arrival. The aircraft carried none other than Thaksin Shinawatra, the paroled former Prime Minister of Thailand, marking his first touchdown in the region in 17 years. This momentous occasion was met with an outpouring of elation from the sea of red-shirt supporters who had gathered, their cheers of “We love Thaksin” filling the air, a heartwarming welcome for a figure deeply etched in their hearts.

The buzz at the Nakhon Ratchasima airport that Saturday morning was palpable. Thaksin, accompanied by a retinue including his daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra, leader of the Pheu Thai Party, his son Panthongtae, and key party allies, was not just here on a political pilgrimage but for a deeply personal reason. This visit was to pay final respects to Wichai Changlek, a loyal driver and companion of Thaksin’s who had passed away at the age of 73.

The scene at the airport was one of jubilation and warmth. Traditional Thai loincloths, pha khao ma, were draped around Thaksin as signs of respect and affection. Selfies were snapped, hugs were exchanged, and the air was thick with chants of adoration for the former premier. Emotions ran high, with some supporters moved to tears at the sight of a man who, for many, represented both hope and nostalgia.

An anticipated crowd of 3,000 echoed Thaksin’s journey to Wat Sangkha Chinaram in Sida district, where they joined in the afternoon’s cremation ceremonies for Wichai. But Thaksin’s day was far from over. Post-cremation, plans were afoot to honor the memory of Thao Suranaree, a local heroine, and mingle with his enduring base of support in a city that held memories of political triumph and personal ties.

Ensuring order amidst the excitement, police from multiple districts were in full force, a testament to Thaksin’s enduring influence and the fervent passions he inspires. Despite his controversial past, leading to a parole after a conviction for abuse of power and conflict of interest, Thaksin’s activities post-release have been a whirlwind of public appearances and engagements across Thailand, from Chiang Mai to Phuket. This, despite restrictions on political activities — a testament to his knack for remaining in the limelight and the gray areas of political engagement.

Thaksin’s rendezvous in Nakhon Ratchasima was peppered with the presence of Thailand’s political heavyweights, from Defense Minister Sutin Klungsang to Digital Economy and Society Minister Prasert Jantararuangtong and Culture Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol. The attendance of Nakhon Ratchasima Governor Chaiwat Chuenkosum also underscored the event’s significance, bridging political narratives and personal loyalty.

This vibrant return to Nakhon Ratchasima wasn’t just a day’s event; it was a poignant reminder of Thaksin’s complex tapestry of influence, interwoven with Thailand’s political, social, and regional threads. As the sun set on a day thick with political intrigue and personal homage, thoughts inevitably turned to Thaksin’s daughter, Paetongtarn, and her own political aspirations. Despite her notable presence and bearing her father’s political legacy, she humbly dismisses talk of prime ministerial ambitions—for now, at least.

In a country where politics is as dynamic as its people, the return of Thaksin Shinawatra to Nakhon Ratchasima wasn’t just a walk through familiar lands. It was a potent symbol of loyalty, memory, and the unyielding bonds that connect a leader with his people. Yet, as the cheers dissolve and the crowds disperse, the question lingers — what next for Thaksin, and how will his legacy continue to shape the contours of Thailand’s political landscape?


  1. Samantha May 25, 2024

    Thaksin’s return is nothing more than a calculated move to stir political tension. It’s clear he’s leveraging his popularity for a potential political comeback. The emotional aspect is just a facade.

    • TukTik May 25, 2024

      I disagree, Samantha. For many in Thailand, especially in the rural areas, Thaksin represents a time of hope and progress. His return is a beacon of hope for many who felt forgotten by the current political establishment.

      • Samantha May 25, 2024

        Hope is one thing, but let’s not ignore the corruption charges and the abuse of power that marked his term. How quickly we forget the reasons behind his ousting.

      • Paul Chen May 25, 2024

        It’s important to consider the broader political context in Thailand. Thaksin, despite his flaws, initiated policies that benefited the underserved. The current administration hasn’t filled that void.

    • Jake_M May 25, 2024

      But wasn’t the corruption and abuse of power part of why he was removed? It’s naive to think his intentions are purely altruistic.

      • NancyD May 25, 2024

        What many consider corruption, others see as disruption against a traditionally elitist power structure. Thai politics is complex; Thaksin’s methods were controversial, but so are the motives of those who oppose him.

  2. AroonTh May 25, 2024

    Thaksin’s return symbolizes much more than politics; it’s about the enduring bond between a leader and his people. His emotional engagement with the masses shows his genuine connection and concern for their welfare.

    • TechieLover May 25, 2024

      A ‘genuine connection’? He’s a billionaire with his own interests at heart. Don’t confuse political charisma with genuine concern.

      • Luv4Thailand May 25, 2024

        Wealth doesn’t preclude genuine concern. Bill Gates is a billionaire, yet his philanthropy is celebrated. Why not Thaksin?

  3. grower134 May 25, 2024

    The police presence mentioned… isn’t that a sign of the underlying tensions in Thai politics? Shows how fragmented our society is.

    • SaraJ May 25, 2024

      Absolutely. It’s a sad reflection of the state of our politics where such an event necessitates heavy police presence. Shouldn’t the return of a former PM to pay respects be a non-issue?

      • grower134 May 25, 2024

        One would think so, SaraJ. But Thaksin is no ordinary former PM. His presence is polarizing. It’s not just about paying respects; it’s a display of power and influence.

  4. PhuketLoyal May 25, 2024

    Seeing Thaksin back, surrounded by supporters, really warms my heart. It reminds us of better times when the country was moving forward with hope.

    • Watcher52 May 25, 2024

      Better times? The economy was a bubble waiting to burst, and human rights abuses were rampant. Be careful what you wish for.

  5. NavinR May 25, 2024

    Thaksin’s presence with political heavyweights is intriguing. It’s like he never left the political scene. Watch this space; I suspect there’s more to come.

    • PoliticalFan May 25, 2024

      Definitely. His movements are closely watched for a reason. He’s still a major player, and his strategies will impact the future political landscape no doubt.

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