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Thaksin Shinawatra’s Heartfelt Homecoming to Chiang Mai After 17 Years: A Tale of Legacy and Reunion

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On a radiant Thursday morning, the picturesque city of Chiang Mai was abuzz with an air of excitement and anticipation. It wasn’t just any day for the locals and fervent supporters alike; it was the day Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister of Thailand, made a grand entrance back to his roots, his beloved home province, after an absence that spanned nearly two decades. His arrival, on a sleek private jet, was not just a return, but a poignant homecoming, stirring emotions and sparking joy amongst those who had longed for this moment.

The clock had barely struck 9:28 am when Thaksin, accompanied by his youngest daughter, Paetongtarn Shinawatra—a prominent figure herself as the leader of the Pheu Thai Party—along with her husband, Pitaka Suksawat, and their daughter, Thitarn, touched down at Chiang Mai airport. The anticipation was palpable, and the air vibrated with a mixture of eagerness and reverence. This visit broke the 17-year hiatus, marking Thaksin’s much-awaited return to the northern province where his legacy loomed large.

Greeting him at the tarmac was a retinue of well-wishers led by the deputy national police chief, Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, signaling a welcome of high esteem and respect. From the moment he set foot on his ancestral grounds, Thaksin was not just a man returning home; he was a revered figure re-entering a realm that held his history, his triumphs, and his trials.

But the day’s journey was to take him further than just the bounds of the airport. Thaksin, donning a casual ensemble of a blue shirt paired with jeans—his hand securely held by his daughter’s and accompanied by a watchful nurse tending to his health needs—made his way to the Royal Park Rajapruek. This sprawling 200-acre botanical garden, a crown jewel of Chiang Mai established during his prime ministerial tenure in 2006, awaited his return. Here, amidst the vibrant blooms and the tranquil paths, he was presented with a Buddha statue by Phudit Insuwan, a gesture steeped in respect and admiration, a symbolic totem from the days of the Thai Rak Thai Party.

The entourage accompanying Thaksin and his family was nothing short of illustrious, including figures such as former prime minister and Thaksin’s brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat, his younger sister Yaowapa Wongsawat, along with environmental and governmental dignitaries. Their presence not only underscored the significance of Thaksin’s visit but also heralded a reunification of influential personas in the heart of the north.

Before this much-anticipated arrival in Chiang Mai, Thaksin paid his respects at the City Pillar Shrine in Bangkok, a symbolic act highlighting his deep-rooted respect for tradition and his homeland before embarking on this journey northward. This act set the tone for the day, one that was imbued with cultural significance and personal reflection.

However, Thaksin’s journey and the attention it garnered were not without scrutiny. Ramet Rattanachaweng, spokesman for the opposition Democrat Party, voiced concerns over the special attention Thaksin might receive during this period of parole. The watchdog eyes of the public and officials were firmly fixed on him, ensuring that his parole conditions were respected, amidst this historic homecoming.

The day unwrapped itself like a vibrant tapestry of cultural homage, familial ties, and a touching reunion with supporters. It was a narrative not just of a political figure returning home, but of a man reconnecting with his roots, amid the landscapes that shaped his beginnings. As the sun dipped below the horizon, the streets of Chiang Mai whispered tales of the past and hopes for the future, echoing with the steps of a former prime minister who had finally come home.


  1. ChaiPattana March 14, 2024

    It’s a historic moment for Thailand and shows the enduring spirit of the Shinawatra family. Their contributions to the Thai economy and infrastructure are unparalleled. No wonder the locals welcomed him like a hero.

    • SiamWatcher March 14, 2024

      But let’s not forget the controversies, corruption allegations, and the divisive politics that marked Thaksin’s term. It’s not all rosy.

      • PaiMai March 14, 2024

        True, but one can’t deny the progress in healthcare and village funds initiated during his tenure. It’s a complex legacy.

      • ChaiPattana March 14, 2024

        Indeed, it’s complex. However, focusing on the positives, his return might open new dialogues for the future of Thai politics. The nation’s growth must be inclusive.

    • BangkokBorn March 14, 2024

      A grand welcome for someone convicted? This sets a dangerous precedent. Respect for law and justice must be upheld above all.

      • NorthStar101 March 14, 2024

        He was unfairly targeted by political rivals, leading to his exile. This return is justice in its own poetic way.

  2. ThaiPride March 14, 2024

    The attention he’s getting is just because of his political stature. There are countless exiles who deserve to return and reunite with their families too.

    • GreenRice March 14, 2024

      It’s an important point. But Thaksin’s homecoming shines a light on this issue. Maybe now we can hope for more leniency and reunifications.

  3. ElephantGuard March 14, 2024

    People tend to forget how divisive politics can be. Whatever your stance on Thaksin, remember the division and turmoil it caused among Thai people.

    • ChiangMaiSoul March 14, 2024

      But doesn’t every political figure have supporters and detractors? The ultimate measure should be the positive change they brought about.

  4. LotusBloom March 14, 2024

    His return is symbolic but let’s be cautious. Political figures often return with an agenda. What’s his motive this time?

    • JasmineRice March 14, 2024

      Maybe it’s just what it seems – a homecoming. Not everything is a political chess move.

  5. CultureVulture March 14, 2024

    Thaksin visiting the City Pillar Shrine before heading to Chiang Mai is a beautiful gesture of respect towards Thai traditions and spirituality.

    • ModernMind March 14, 2024

      While the gesture is nice, actions speak louder than symbols. Let’s see what actions follow this homecoming.

  6. JoeInternational March 14, 2024

    Watching this from abroad, it’s fascinating how one man’s return can stir so much emotion and discussion. It speaks volumes about his impact on the country.

    • BangkokHeat March 14, 2024

      For better or worse, Thaksin is a figure that can’t be ignored in Thai politics. His comeback is definitely something to watch.

  7. SukhothaiSpirit March 14, 2024

    The family aspect of this visit touches me. It shows that beyond politics, there’s a man who missed his homeland and his roots. Welcome home.

    • ChaiPattana March 14, 2024

      Absolutely, it humanizes him. Regardless of our views, reconnecting with one’s roots is a powerful and emotional moment.

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