Update: Thaksin sets off for Chiang Mai with Paetongtarn

Photo courtesy of Thai PBS World

Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra emerged from Chan Song La residence, alongside his youngest daughter and Pheu Thai party leader, Paetongtarn Shinawatra ready to take off for his hometown, Chiang Mai.

At the crack of dawn, precisely at 5.19am, the duo paid their respects at the revered Bangkok City Pillar shrine, before departing on a jet plane bound for Chiang Mai at around 7am.

Despite sporting a neck support, Thaksin displayed remarkable progress, walking unaided and without an arm sling. This starkly contrasts with his previous public appearances, such as the encounter with former Cambodian PM Hun Sen, where he relied on supportive gear. Just yesterday, he graced the Supreme Patriarch with his presence at Wat Ratchabophit Sathitmahasimaram temple, appearing without any visible support, confidently strolling on his own.

Thaksin’s itinerary includes a heartfelt visit to his hometown in Chiang Mai from today until Saturday. He plans to reside within Summit Green Valley in the Mae Rim district, welcoming evening visits from family and relatives.

Tomorrow is a significant event as Thaksin and his family will partake in solemn rituals at a temple in the San Kamphaeng district, where his ancestors’ relics rest. The following day marks his return to Bangkok, concluding this poignant journey, his first since his prolonged self-exile.

Thaksin’s return to Thailand last August coincided with legal complications, culminating in a corruption conviction. Despite evading prison, his prolonged stay at the Police General Hospital, citing various ailments, sparked controversy over alleged preferential treatment to avoid incarceration, reported Thai PBS World.

With doubts looming over the severity of the 74 year old former PM’s illness, speculation runs rampant among Thais, questioning the true motives behind his elusive return and subsequent actions.

ORIGINAL STORY: PM Srettha may meet paroled Thaksin during Chiang Mai visit

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has suggested a potential meeting with the recently paroled former premier, Thaksin Shinawatra. This event could take place during PM Srettha’s upcoming visit to Chiang Mai, which coincides with Thaksin’s planned trip to his hometown.

The Thai prime minister is scheduled to inspect haze pollution, drug-related issues, and the progress of royally initiated development projects in Chiang Mai from March 15 to March 17. During this time, Thaksin intends to be in the same region from March 14 to March 16, sparking controversy amidst critics and raising questions about the terms of his parole release.

The Network of Students and People Reforming Thailand has expressed concerns about Thaksin’s trip, suspecting it to be a political move to rally support among his red-shirt followers who support the ruling Pheu Thai Party. The network plans to petition the Ministry of Justice’s parole panel to investigate Thaksin’s travel plans, which may violate his parole conditions.

Despite critics’ concerns, PM Srettha has expressed a willingness to meet Thaksin in Chiang Mai if the opportunity presents itself. The 62 year old prime minister visited Thaksin after he was discharged on parole and returned home to Bangkok, and sees no issue with a potential second meeting in Chiang Mai.

“I might drop by to see him (in Chiang Mai). We know each other.”

He also mentioned that no formal meeting has been arranged due to his limited knowledge of Thaksin’s itinerary.

In addition to the potential meeting, PM Srettha also addressed opposition plans to hold a general debate against the government. The opposition is expected to submit a general debate motion on March 13, with the debate projected to span two days from April 3 to April 5. Thaksin’s parole release is anticipated to be one of the subjects discussed.

Srettha’s meeting

The Bangkok-born prime minister affirmed the legality of Thaksin’s discharge and denied any interference on his part in securing the early release of the former premier. The opposition’s critique of the government’s progress in implementing core policies declared when it took office six months ago was also addressed by the prime minister. He assured his readiness to explain the debate issues that will be raised against him and his Cabinet Ministers.

In mid-March, the government plans to update the public on its achievements and foreign investments in the country, following the prime minister’s overseas visits. This announcement will also include an economic booster plan. PM Srettha dismissed opposition claims that he returned from his travels abroad empty-handed.

The opposition Democrat Party suggested that the Corrections Department and the Parole Department are the most qualified to judge whether Thaksin’s travel plan to Chiang Mai complies with regulations, reported Bangkok Post.

Meanwhile, red-shirt leader and adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai, Worachai Hema, stated that red-shirt supporters in Chiang Mai and neighbouring provinces remain loyal to Thaksin. They hope to meet Thaksin at a temple in San Kamphaeng district in Chiang Mai on March 15.

Bangkok NewsChiang Mai NewsPolitics NewsThailand News

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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