Thousands rally to greet Thaksin in Korat homecoming

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Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

The red shirts are rolling out the red carpet for Thaksin Shinawatra, as the paroled former prime minister prepares for his first visit to the northeastern province in almost two decades today.

Kowit Khorhenklang, a fervent supporter of Thaksin, anticipates a crowd of 3,000 to join him at Wat Sangkha Chinaram in Sida district this afternoon. Thaksin will attend the cremation ceremony of Wichai Changlek, his loyal long-time driver, who passed away at 73 from an undisclosed illness.

Toy Haemthasong, Wichai’s sister, shared yesterday that Wichai’s last wish was for his body to be brought home to Korat from Nonthaburi, so his boss could lead the religious ceremony.

A poignant highlight of Thaksin’s visit will be his homage to the Thao Suranaree statue in the city—a gesture he hasn’t made in 17 years. Kowit, a member of the provincial red-shirt club and a Chinese pastry vendor, proudly displays a picture of Thaksin in his shop since his last visit.

“Thaksin is still in my heart forever.”

Kowit and other red-shirt members plan to greet Thaksin at the airport and accompany him throughout the day. Panwadee Tantisirin, a red-shirt leader from Khon Kaen, revealed that over 1,000 red shirts from the northeastern provinces will gather at the temple to welcome Thaksin.

“May 25 will be the day to show him love and loyalty.”

In the municipality, Thaksin will be welcomed by Digital Economy and Society Minister Prasert Jantararuangtong, a Nakhon Ratchasima-based politician and Pheu Thai Party MP, along with other notable politicians including Suwat Liptapanlop, chairman of the Chart Pattana Party, reported Bangkok Post.

Thaksin, who will travel by private jet and return to Bangkok the same day, has maintained a hectic travel schedule since his parole release in February. He has already visited Chiang Mai, Phuket, and other locations, often seen in the company of politicians despite his parole condition prohibiting political activities.

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