Thai netizens mostly endorse Thaksin’s vow to return

The hashtag #พี่โทนี่กลับไทยแน่ (Tony’s definitely coming back to Thailand) was trending on Twitter Wednesday, a day after former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, popularly nicknamed ‘Tony Woodsome’, declared on chatroom App Clubhouse that he is “definitely coming back.”

Over the past several months, Thaksin, one of Thailand’s most polarizing political figures, has become active on Clubhouse and other social media platforms, where he discusses Thailand’s current affairs, criticizes the Prayut government’s mismanagements, and shares opinions on the strategies he would employ if he were still the PM.

He has been met with overwhelmingly positive responses from many Thai netizens, especially as they grow increasingly frustrated with the current government’s mishandlings and inaction over the pandemic.

Many have also been calling for Thaksin’s return to the country, asking him to come back and “help fix the messes created by Prayut.” The Thai Twitterverse has been flooded with messages along the lines of “welcome home” and “can’t wait” upon the ex-premier’s confirmation of his return.

But others have remained more wary, as they reflected on the former leader’s history of corruption and abuse of power as Thailand’s prime minister.

“Given Thaksin’s track record, won’t this become just another cycle of Thai politicians and corruption?” asked one Twitter user rhetorically.

“There’s probably some kind of special deal going on behind the scenes for [Thaksin] to return, and I think he can probably help fix the problems at hand. But if we were to hold another election, I’d rather not pick him. There’s so many others who are skilled enough to lead, too,” wrote another user.

Most netizens seemed willing to see a government led by almost anyone other than Prayut and his cabinet.

“I don’t know how this is going to go, and I’ve got no idea what ‘Tony’ will be like this time — but, honestly, as long as we can get rid of this current government, I’m willing to try anything. Nothing can be worse that whatever’s happening right now,” concluded one netizen.

Thaksin served as Thailand’s PM for more than five years before being deposed by the 2006 military coup and found guilty of corruption in 2008. He fled the country shortly before his conviction and has been living in self-imposed exile in Dubai since.

The former premier’s corruption charge was spent back in 2018. Four other charges against him, however, are still pending trial should he return.

At the time of writing, #พี่โทนี่กลับไทยแน่ had garnered over 420,000 tweets.


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