Thaksin’s tweet about grandchild seen as political gambit

Academics speculate that a recent tweet by fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was a political ploy to garner support for the Pheu Thai Party, as pollsters predict it may lose votes to the increasingly popular Move Forward Party (MFP) before the General Election scheduled for May 14.

Yesterday, Thaksin tweeted that he would return to Thailand now that his seventh and youngest grandchild has been born as he wants to take care of them at the age of 73.

Thaksin expressed his delight on Twitter, sharing news that his daughter Paetongtarn Shinawatra had given birth to his seventh grandchild, all of whom were born after he left the country.

“I’d like to ask for permission to return to take care of the grandchildren because I will be 74 years old this July. See you soon.”

Paetongtarn, who is also a prime ministerial candidate for the Pheu Thai Party, shared on Instagram that her son has been named Phruethasin Suksawat, with the nickname Thasin. She expressed gratitude for the moral support and stated her intention to meet the press soon after recovering from the birth.

However, Olarn Thinbangtieo, a political science lecturer at Burapha University, believes there might be a hidden political agenda behind Thaksin’s tweet, reported Bangkok Post.

Olarn said Thaksin’s latest tweet might be linked to the waning popularity of the Pheu Thai Party, especially on social media, where the MFP is gaining traction, particularly in major cities like Bangkok.

“The MFP’s rising popularity will have an impact on Pheu Thai’s bid to achieve a landslide victory in the poll.”

He believes that Thaksin is stepping forward to garner sympathy from voters by expressing his desire to return and take care of his grandchildren.

Jade Donavanik, dean of the law faculty at Dhurakij Pundit University, shared a similar view, asserting that Thaksin perceives the MFP’s increasing popularity as a threat to Pheu Thai’s prospects.

He pointed out that there was no need for Thaksin to battle against the MFP and other opposition parties, as the MFP is already their rival.

Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, a law lecturer at Thammasat University, suggested that Thaksin’s recent tweet would encourage those who want him to return and vote for Pheu Thai. However, it could also compel those who dislike him to support the United Thai Nation Party (UTN), which has Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as its prime ministerial candidate.

In 2008, Thaksin was convicted for violating the National Counter Corruption Act in the Ratchadaphisek land purchase case and sentenced to two years in jail by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions. He fled the country that same year, just before the court sentenced him, and subsequently jumped bail after attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games with his then-wife in Beijing. They later divorced, and she returned to Thailand.

In March, Thaksin shared with Kyodo News during a trip to Tokyo that he is prepared to serve his prison term if he can spend the rest of his life with his family. Critics, however, remain sceptical about his sincerity in returning to Thailand and serving jail time.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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