“Big Birthday Surprise” He may have the money to stage stunts. But he can’t really make it back here. You can see him but you can’t touch him.
The rumour mill is running wild over how former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will be celebrating his 60th birthday tomorrow. Nisit Sindhuprai, one of the red-shirt leaders, has said that Thaksin is planning a “big surprise” for his nemesis Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
With his birthday just a day away, people can’t help but wonder what this convicted billionaire is up to.
The Abhisit camp had earlier feared that the big surprise would be another massive riot, much like the one organised during Songkran by his red-shirt supporters. However, some political gurus are dismissing this possibility because it would be a clich้. After all, Thaksin has promised a surprise, and another riot would just be boringly predictable.
What you are at 60 is a measure of what you have achieved in your life. Thaksin managed to garner several billions of baht in his six years in office and is running around the globe to avoid serving the jail term he was given for corruption. Still, who can blame the man? Thai prisons are notorious for bringing out confessions, and no, we are not talking about the mysterious CIA torture chamber that is supposed to be based in Thailand. Water-boarding does not quite seem to fit the character of Thai law-enforcement. The police here have a much better way of getting bad people to spill the beans. Surely Thaksin remembers the 2004 incident when a suspected thief was allegedly administered electric shocks to his testicles. Ouch!
Thaksin is not a man who will go quietly though. To build up the suspense before his birthday, his lieutenants have launched a magazine called Voice of Taksin, with Thaksin’s smiling face staring at readers on a cover done up to look like Time magazine. If Voice of Taksin could make any sound, it would say: “I’ll be back”, the phrase that made Arnold Schwarzenegger famous in the “Terminator” films.
However, Voice of Taksin didn’t create as much hype as Thaksin probably hoped. First, it is quite wrong to launch another magazine in a market where hardly anybody bothers to read. Besides, even though Thaksin is not around, people can still hear his voice, and in fact, even see him sing. Check out “Maew Rap“, the original version, on YouTube.
Yet we should never assume that Thaksin will ever be at his wit’s end. His promised surprise could well be even more exciting than the birth of a panda cub.
Luckily for us, even his confidants have not been able to keep things secret. Pracha Prasopdee, an MP from the Pheu Thai Party, says Thaksin plans to launch a song telling his fans about his experiences since his ouster in 2006. Apparently Thaksin will debut his musical career with a video produced with the help of a professional team in Dubai, beamed in as a hologram at the Kaew Fah Temple in Nonthaburi. It will look as if Thaksin is actually standing there singing live in front of his fans.
Apparently the temple’s abbot has already witnessed a rehearsal of this “big surprise” and says it’s certainly worth waiting for. “When people see it, they will be amazed, surprised and stunned with what Thaksin has done.”
By JEERAWAT NA THALANG
Published on July 25, 2009
Thaksin’s “Big Surprise” is a ‘Hologram’ gimmick…if he can pull it off
secret has been leaked: The much-hyped “Big Birthday Surprise” that Thaksin Shinawatr plans for this Sunday is another publicity stunt. He is trying to rent the expensive service of a “hologram” show to make it appear as if he is physically back in Thailand to join the birthday celebration through the “Hologram” technology — which means beaming 3-D images to project them on a 2-D surface.
CNN tried that for the first time in covering the Obama election campaign. For one thing, it’s very expensive. For another, it’s still unclear whether it could be technically feasible here. Thirdly, it will only stress that point that Thaksin can’t really come home.
He may have the money to stage stunts. But he can’t really make it back here. You can see him but you can’t touch him.
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
Birthday ‘surprise’ keeps them guessing
Thai Takes by PHILIP GOLINGAI
The government claimed it had no interest in Thaksin’s birthday plans.
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary general of the Democrat Party, said he was not interested in anything Thaksin might say or do.
Prime Minister Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey said the former prime minister had announced his plan for a “big surprise” because he was fearful Thais would forget him as Abhisit’s popularity had risen after his visit to Buri Ram province in Thaksin’s stronghold in Thailand’s northeast.
However, Suranand Vejjajiva, a political analyst who once served in Thaksin’s Cabinet, wrote in the Bangkok Post yesterday: “No one knows what this will be, but in waiting for him to tell us, he already has our attention – the most important factor in an effective communications stratagem. “And it could not have come at a better time. The government of PM Abhisit is now considerably weakened, literally ‘sick with the flu’ and unable to cope with mounting crises.”
So what is Thaksin’s “big surprise”?
Suriyasai Katasila, the secretary general of New Politics Party (the political party of the yellow shirted movement), predicted that Thaksin would declare he would end his political activities after the Red Shirts submit their petition (signed by a million Thais) seeking a royal pardon for the former premier who had been convicted of corruption.
Tulsathit Taptim wrote that theory number seven in The Nation’s newsroom was: “He will become a monk. (We hope this doesn’t happen because the last time an ousted leader in exile took up the saffron robes, it triggered one of the blackest chapters in Thai history.)”
Blogger Meaw & More (meawgyver.wordpress.com) blogged that the self-exiled Thaksin would appear in a hologram for his birthday party. His prediction is similar to Tulsatit’s theory Number two, which was: “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.)”
Veera Prateepchaikul, an editor with the Bangkok Post, sarcastically suggested that Thaksin would announce his return to Thailand to face justice.
Read full ariticle here: The Star Online