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Thaksin Shinawatra’s Emotional Songkran Homage in Chiang Mai: A Journey of Ancestral Respect and Family Unity

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In the land of smiles and the realm of rich traditions, the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra recently made headlines with a heartwarming venture back to his roots in the picturesque province of Chiang Mai. The occasion? A deeply personal pilgrimage to honor his ancestors, a tradition held dear during the vibrant festival of Songkran. This was not just any visit; it marked Thaksin’s emotional return after a 17-year hiatus, since he embarked on a self-exile journey only to return to his homeland last August. Now, at the grand age of 74, Thaksin received a nod of approval from the Probation Department, allowing this poignant trip to unfold.

Chiang Mai greeted its once-leader with open arms and the warmth characteristic of this northern jewel of Thailand. Thaksin, navigating his journey under parole, given on accounts of age and health ailments, found himself stepping into the serene precincts of the Khru Ba Sri Vichai monument, nestled in Tambon Suthep of Muang Chiang Mai district. Accompanying him were his devoted daughters, Pheu Thai leader Paetongtarn and her elder sister, Pinthongta, making the visit a family affair of reverence and solidarity.

But this was not an ordinary sightseeing tour. High-ranking officials and local luminaries, from deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn to the Permanent Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Chatuporn Burutphat, joined in to pay their respects alongside Thaksin. It was a stop filled with solemnity and symbolism. Yet, as the entourage made their way to the Doi Suthep Stupa, life’s unpredictable nature reared its head – Thaksin suffered from severe back pain, a poignant reminder of the vulnerability that comes with age and the burdens we carry, both literally and metaphorically. There, in that moment of frailty, his daughters and a nurse were his support, echoing the familial bond that had brought them to Chiang Mai.

The itinerary continued with strides into the everyday life of Chiang Mai, at the bustling Waroros Market. Here, amidst the vibrant chaos of commerce and culture, Thaksin revisited the newsstand of Arunsri Puangraksa, 83, weaving threads of personal history into the fabric of the marketplace. It was a simple gesture, buying papers from Mr. Arunsri, but it spoke volumes of Thaksin’s connection to his past and the constituents who once supported his political ascent.

Amid declarations of love and support from the gathering crowds, Thaksin pledged to return annually to Chiang Mai, reinforcing his ties to the land and its people. The journey to his parents’ resting place at the Huai Mae On Reservoir and the subsequent visit to Wat Rong Tham Samakkee painted a picture of a man seeking solace in his origins, amidst the whirlwind of political life and the trials of exile.

The evening brought an intriguing twist, with Thaksin dining with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, underlining a camaraderie transcending political timelines and symbolizing respect and support for the current leadership. This gesture, however, was not without its share of controversy. Critics voiced concerns over the perceived special treatment of Thaksin, igniting debates on the propriety of government officials’ engagement during his visit.

Yet, beyond the political din and the sharp critiques, Thaksin’s trip to Chiang Mai encapsulates a narrative rich with Thai cultural ethos, familial bond, and the undying connection to one’s roots. It’s a story that transcends the individual; it’s of coming full circle, of honoring the past while navigating the complexities of the present, in the timeless dance of tradition and modernity.


  1. JaneDoe123 March 16, 2024

    I think Thaksin’s return and the way he was received is a perfect example of how complex Thai politics and culture can be. It’s more than just political maneuvering; it’s about roots, respect, and redemption.

    • NostalgicSoul March 16, 2024

      Absolutely agree with you. It’s beautiful to see how traditions and family values are still held in such high regard in Thailand, despite the political backdrop.

      • Realist789 March 16, 2024

        But don’t you think it’s a bit too theatrical? Sure, traditions are important, but this feels like a calculated political move to me.

    • JaneDoe123 March 16, 2024

      I see your point, Realist789. It can come off that way, but maybe it’s a bit of both? Thaksin’s journey does feel genuine to some extent, considering his age and health issues.

  2. Patriot_456 March 16, 2024

    This is just another political stunt by Thaksin. He’s trying to whitewash his past and craft a new narrative for himself. People shouldn’t be fooled by such gestures.

    • CultureVulture March 16, 2024

      While I get where you’re coming from, Patriot_456, isn’t it possible that he genuinely wants to reconnect with his roots and honor his ancestors?

      • Skeptic101 March 16, 2024

        Genuine or not, it sends the wrong message. He’s still a controversial figure, and officials treating him like a VIP raises a lot of questions.

      • Patriot_456 March 16, 2024

        Exactly, Skeptic101. It’s all about the message this sends. It undermines the principles of justice and equality before the law.

    • TravelBug March 16, 2024

      Politics aside, it’s nice to see cultural traditions getting spotlighted like this. Songkran is a beautiful festival, and respect for ancestors is a lesson many could learn from.

  3. TruthSeeker March 16, 2024

    Why is it that some people are quick to label this as pure politics? Isn’t there room for personal growth and cultural respect in someone’s life, regardless of their past?

    • LogicPrevails March 16, 2024

      Because, TruthSeeker, history has shown us time and again that politicians often have motives behind their actions, especially in gestures that are publicized this way.

      • TruthSeeker March 16, 2024

        Fair point, LogicPrevails. But isn’t it also cynical to assume there’s no genuine intent at all? People can change, and cultural ties can mean a lot, especially in Thai culture.

  4. Simpleton March 16, 2024

    All this political chatter aside, doesn’t anyone else think it’s kinda sweet he’s visiting his roots and honoring his family? Politics can make us forget about the human side of things.

  5. Watcher March 16, 2024

    The controversy here is palpable. Thaksin’s actions have always stirred the pot, but it’s intriguing to see how a gesture like this divides opinion. It’s a reminder of the power of public image.

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