Thaksin Shinawatra’s “big surprise” on his 60th birthday has failed to live up to the expectations of many people.
The ousted prime minister yesterday clearly avoided touching on politics and only performed a song as a treat for his supporters.
The much-hyped “big surprise” turned out to be a VCD of him carrying a monk’s robes for making merit, accompanied by singing.
The VCD was screened at Kaew Fa Chula Manee in Nonthaburi’s Bang Kruai district, where religious and merit-making ceremonies were performed to mark his birthday yesterday.
Tens of thousands of his supporters flocked to the ceremony. Those present included former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat and his wife Yaowapa, Thaksin’s younger sister, banned executives of the dissolved People Power Party, politicians from the Puea Thai Party and red shirt supporters led by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship.
A song he performed titled I Will Come Back told of the miseries he had suffered during his self-imposed exile and of his passion to return home.
After the VCD screening, Thaksin phoned in to address the gathering and thank his supporters for turning up to celebrate his birthday.
The phone-in address and the VCD screening was relayed to supporters in other provinces.
He said he hoped the merit and good deeds they performed would help him to return home soon to solve the country’s problems.
“My brothers, I hope you can recognise my voice. I thank you for sitting through it. I myself was embarrassed singing the song,” Thaksin said.
After his phone-in address, his supporters at the temple sang Happy Birthday to him and applauded.
It was not known where Thaksin was when he addressed his supporters.
Mr Somchai, who presided over the ceremony, said it did not matter about the surprise when it was clear Thaksin was still popular with many people.
Mr Somchai, Thaksin’s brother-in-law, said the petition campaign to gather a million signatures for a royal pardon for Thaksin would continue.
Puea Thai MP for Bangkok Anudit Nakhonthap said the VCD accompanied by the song came as a big surprise.
This was because many were aware that Thaksin was not good at singing and this was the first time he had tried to sing in public.
Mrs Yaowapa said she would relate the impression she had of the event to Thaksin and that Thaksin’s supporters would continue to fight for justice and democracy.
At one point on his weekly television programme yesterday, when Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was asked by the interviewer if he had anything to say to Thaksin, he replied:
“Nothing much. He may want to achieve happiness like other people. He would be much happier should he become ‘enlightened’.”
Regarding Thaksin’s apologies for his birthday bash “stealing the scene” and taking public attention from the premier, Mr Abhisit said apologies were not necessary because no one wanted to share the same scene with Thaksin, who is a convict.
The prime minister stressed that the government would get tough with those who incite disturbances and would ensure any anti-government community radio stations intent on political agitation would be strictly regulated.
Mr Abhisit and Thaksin also exchanged messages on their online Twitter accounts yesterday.
Mr Abhisit posted a message on Thaksin’s Twitter page, saying: “On the occasion of your birthday, you may want to be happy like others. If you are enlightened, you will be much happier.”
In his tweet, Thaksin replied: “Thank you very much, prime minister. I would like to extend my moral support for your efforts to tackle the country’s problems. I would be glad if there is anything I can do to help you.”
Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, said the number of people showing up at the birthday celebration showed Thaksin’s political magnetism remained strong.
Mr Thitinan said Thaksin’s opponents including the coup makers and the People’s Alliance for Democracy had failed to limit Thaksin’s influence.
However, he said Thaksin could not offer a solution to the problems besetting the country.
PAD coordinator Suriyasai Katasila criticised Thaksin’s big surprise, saying he had run short of ideas to present himself to the public.
Mr Suriyasai urged the government to find out Thaksin’s whereabouts overseas.
Thaksin showed photos on his Picasa page which he said were taken in Dubai. They showed him and his three children making merit and feeding monks, supposedly at a morning meal in the United Arab Emirates.
Published: 27/07/2009 at 12:00 AM
New Politics Party: No ‘Big Surprise’ from Thaksin
The New Politics Party’s secretary-general said there were no new surprises from fugitive ex-premiere Thaksin Shinawatra on his 60th birthday celebration, and asked the government to bring him back to face legal charges.
Suriyasai Katasila, New Politics Party’s secretary-general said that the “Big Surprise” planned for fugitive exiled PM Thaksin’s 60th birthday was not any a surprise at all. He added that there were no new developments in the movement apart from the attempt to create a rift among people.
Suriyasai stated that most of people in the country have been tired of the ex-premiere Thaksin and his devotees’ activities which have hampered the country’s economy and development.
He added that fugitive ex- Prime Minister Thaksin should come back for the court hearing if he really wanted to see the harmony in the country, adding that the exiled PM Thaksin should face reality.
Meanwhile, he urged the government to seek the cooperation with countries which are the bases for fugitive ex-prime minister in order to bring him to face legal charges in Thailand.
Suriyasai also expressed concern that the continuous movement of the fugitive ex-premiere and his devotees would negatively affect the country’s stability in the long run.
Thaksin needs enlightenment: Abhisit
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Sunday that former premier Shinawatra Thaksin needed to be enlightened to be happy.
During his weekly TV programme, the host asked him to comment on the big celebrations of Thaksin’s birthday in several provinces.
“He may like other people who would like to be happy. If I can send message to him directly, I would like to say ‘if you are enlightened and understand dharma, you will be much happier,'” the prime minister said.