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Thaksin Shinawatra’s Grand Return to Nakhon Ratchasima: A Display of Unyielding Support and Emotion

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In the vibrant heart of Bangkok, a visual feast unfurled as ardent supporters of Pheu Thai banded together, brandishing an awe-invoking banner to herald the much-anticipated return of Thaksin Shinawatra. This grand event slated for March 26, set the stage for an even more electrifying occurrence anticipated to captivate the city of Nakhon Ratchasima. Come Saturday, an aura of devotion will sweep through the streets, as the red-shirted legion readies its most opulent welcome for a figure synonymous with both controversy and charisma: Thaksin Shinawatra.

The air in Nakhon Ratchasima is thick with anticipation, as this marks Thaksin’s first sojourn back to the northeastern bastion in nearly two titanic decades. Among the throng of fervent admirers is Kowit Khorhenklang, a die-hard aficionado of the paroled former premier, who is buzzing with excitement. Kowit, with the passion of a true believer, estimates a gathering of no less than 3,000 souls at Wat Sangkha Chinaram in the Sida district—a picturesque scene that promises to etch itself in the annals of political gatherings.

But Saturday’s gathering is more than just a show of political solidarity; it carries a profound personal resonance for Thaksin. The occasion? The cremation ceremony of Wichai Changlek, Thaksin’s steadfast driver of many years, whose life journey came to a close at the age of 73, under mysterious circumstances. Wichai, before departing this world, voiced a final wish that speaks volumes of his loyalty: for his body to be returned to Korat, from Nonthaburi, so that his revered boss could preside over his last rites. Toy Haemthasong, Wichai’s sister, shared this poignant detail, adding layers of emotion to an already charged event.

Amidst these somber ceremonies, there lies a moment poised to capture the imagination of many. Thaksin plans to pay homage to the revered Thao Suranaree monument, a gesture laden with meaning, as it marks his first visit in 17 years. Kowit, whose Chinese pastry shop holds a cherished picture of Thaksin from his last visit, remarks, “That shows Thaksin is still in my heart forever.” This symbol of unwavering loyalty underscores the deep emotional threads that link Thaksin with his supporters.

As the day unfolds, Kowit, alongside other red-shirt members, plans to orchestrate a grand reception for the ex-premier right from the airport, vowing to shadow him in a demonstration of unwavering support and solidarity. Echoing this sentiment, Panwadee Tantisirin, a luminous figure in the red-shirt movement from Khon Kaen, reveals that a convoy exceeding a thousand from the northeast will roll out the red carpet for Thaksin at the temple. “May 25 will be the day to show him love and loyalty,” she declares, setting the stage for a day of fervent tributes.

Further solidifying this high-profile event, Thaksin is set to be received with open arms by high-ranking officials and politicians, testament to his enduring influence in Thai politics. Among the dignitaries are Digital Economy and Society Minister Prasert Jantararuangtong, a figure of considerable clout in Nakhon Ratchasima, and Suwat Liptapanlop, chairman of the Chart Pattana Party—both ready to extend their warmest greetings.

Thaksin, whose journey back to Bangkok will be aboard his private jet, has kept a brisk pace since his parole release in February, after halving his sentence at the Police General Hospital in Bangkok. His diary, brimming with visits to Chiang Mai, Phuket, among others, delineates a man on a mission, steadfastly engaging with companions and constituents, hinting at a defiance of the parole’s constraints against “political” activity.

In the grand tapestry of Thai politics, the return of Thaksin Shinawatra to Nakhon Ratchasima weaves a narrative rich with emotions, loyalty, and the undiminished fervor of the red shirts. It’s a testament to the complex relationship between a leader and his people, played out in the shadow of temples and monuments, under the watchful gaze of a nation and the world beyond.


  1. PattayaPete May 24, 2024

    Thaksin’s return is nothing but a show, designed to manipulate the public and media. He’s a convicted criminal who fled justice, and now we’re celebrating his return?

    • Thaipower May 24, 2024

      You’re missing the point. Thaksin was targeted unfairly. His return symbolizes hope and change for many people who felt represented by his policies.

      • Bangkokian101 May 24, 2024

        Hope and change? More like corruption and cronyism. Remember the allegations of corruption and abuse of power before he was ousted?

    • SiamSam May 24, 2024

      Look beyond the man. It’s about what he represents to the rural areas and the poor. His policies did a lot for many people, that’s why they support him.

  2. IsaanGirl May 24, 2024

    It’s a historic moment for us, the supporters. Thaksin has always been the people’s prime minister. Excited to see how his return will impact Thai politics.

    • BKKexpat May 24, 2024

      Historic? Possibly. But let’s not forget the divisive nature of his politics. It’s important to consider the long-term effects on the country’s unity.

      • IsaanGirl May 24, 2024

        I understand the concern, but sometimes change requires shaking the system. And he certainly does that.

  3. Joe May 24, 2024

    I just hope this doesn’t lead into another cycle of protests and counter-protests. Thailand has seen enough political turmoil. We need stability and progress, not another round of chaos.

  4. RedDragon May 24, 2024

    The respect Thaksin commands in the northeast is unmatched. His policies, like the healthcare scheme, have materially improved lives. Critics overlook these achievements too quickly.

    • RealistRick May 24, 2024

      Improvements or not, how do you justify the blatant corruption and conflicts of interest during his time in office? Ends don’t always justify the means.

      • RedDragon May 24, 2024

        Corruption is a systemic issue in Thailand, not unique to Thaksin’s administration. At least he pushed for policies that helped the disadvantaged.

  5. KoratKat May 24, 2024

    The ceremony for Wichai Changlek is just a pretext for a political rally. It’s clever and hits the emotional chord, but everyone sees through this facade.

    • HeartOfSiam May 24, 2024

      Maybe it’s both. People aren’t one-dimensional. Thaksin coming back to preside over his loyal driver’s ceremony speaks volumes about personal loyalty amidst the politicking.

      • KoratKat May 24, 2024

        Personal loyalty that conveniently aligns with a massive public appearance? This is political theatre at its finest.

      • SimpleThai May 24, 2024

        Whether it’s politics, loyalty, or both, it’s a significant event for many here. Let’s see what unfolds in the coming days.

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