As supporters of exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra are busily preparing celebrations for his 60th birthday this Sunday, a campaign has started in cyberspace for people to wear black on that day as a gesture of protest against the celebrations.
The campaign was started by a twitter message. It’s not known who started it, but it has spread like wild fire in cyberspace.
I did not receive the message myself, but learned about it from an article in Thursday’s Manager newspaper by Anchalee Paireerat. However, a colleague of mine admitted she had received the message, but the sender was not identified.
The message reads: “July 26, wear black throughout the country”.
Now what does that mean anyway? Those who are not aware of the significance or insignificance of that particular day, which is this Sunday, should not feel sorry about it. There is, in fact, nothing special about it. It is just another Sunday, which just happens to be the birthday of deposed former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who will be turning 60.
So I guess you should by now grasp the meaning of the twitter message which, I suspect, was started by someone to counter the birthday celebrations planned by Thaksin’s supporters. Thus, the idea of wearing black.
Just how many people will don black trousers or simply wear black armbands this Sunday in response to the message remains to be seen. But what is certain is that supporters of the exiled former prime minister are expected to show up in force, and in red, at celebrations which according to the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship will be held across the country, especially in the North and Northeast — the traditional turf of the Puea Thai party.
An earlier plan to for a birthday bash at Sanam Luang was dropped after Thaksin told his supporters through his lawyer in Bangkok that the venue was not appropriate.
To commemorate Thaksin’s 60th, a bimonthly magazine, Voice of Thaksin, whose cover page looks like it was completely lifted from Time magazine, will hit news stands on Sunday. The magazine features writers who are unashamed Thaksin admirers.
To mark his birthday, the Thaicom Foundation which was established by Thaksin, will grant some 6,000 scholarships to students who passed an essay contest. But of special interest is his promise to deliver a ”big surprise”.
But what big surprise could Thakskin have hidden up his sleeves? One that would really surprise his supporters and opponents alike?
I have one suggestion which, I believe, would be a big surprise indeed if it were delivered by Thaksin.
That is, he announces that “he will come back home to face justice.”
Now that would certainly make a front-page banner headline in all newspapers the next morning.
By: Veera Prateepchaikul
Bangkok Post/ Opinion
Someone to keep us guessing
Newsrooms are being filled with educated as well as simply clueless guesses about the “big surprise” being planned for ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s 60th birthday celebrations in various provinces. Here is a summary of all the theories we have heard:
1. There will be some sort of a major announcement. A scenario, brought up by a Pheu Thai Party MP, has Thaksin declaring that he has “forgiven everyone” and is carrying no more grudges. He will say that it is time national reconciliation started, but that it wouldn’t be possible until one of the key coalition parties makes the first move.
2. There will be a jaw-dropping state-of-the-art video linkage that will make his well-wishers feel as if he were “there” in person. (Imagine Princess Leia in “Star Wars” being beamed up for Luke Skywalker by R2-D2.)
3. A combination of the two: a state-of-the-art link-up in which Thaksin hopes for peace in his motherland.
4. He delivers a shocking speech declaring that he will return to acknowledge his punishment, serve his jail term and then launch a political comeback. (This idea came from an entertainment beat reporter, seriously!)
5. A gigantic gimmick designed to embarrass his opponents, probably in the form of remote-controlled projects related to the economy. Many people believe this could possibly be true because the “big surprise” would be more about substance than form. Moreover, it fits the circumstances when news of the “big surprise” first broke. At that time, Thaksin didn’t appear to be in a mood to forgive anyone and told somebody he had called that the Democrats were screwing the economy, before declaring that he had a “big surprise” planned for the country on his birthday.
6. Don’t laugh, but actually there are people who think that the first, second and fifth scenarios will take place at the same time. Thaksin, visiting as a hologram, will declare that he has absolutely no hatred left in his heart, then he goes ahead to give the Democrats a good spanking before announcing projects like scholarships and transforming the People’s Station (formerly D-station) into a free tutoring channel employing expensive, qualified lecturers.
7. He will become a monk. (We hope this doesn’t happen because the last time that an ousted leader in exile took up the saffron robes, it triggered one of the blackest chapters in Thai history.)
There you go. I personally hope it is scenario No 1, but my head tells me it will most probably be No 6. Well, whatever it is, it would still be a nice surprise if Thaksin spends some big bucks on Thailand, no matter what his motive is.
The Nation, Published on July 24, 2009