The Return of Thaksin Shinawatra

Last night, 22 February, Thaksin Shinawatra appeared in the app Clubhouse, under the name Tony Woodsome. The original room filled up within minutes, spawning more and more rooms, broadcasting the audio. It’s also posted on YouTube.

After the conversation, more rooms popped up to discuss what was said by Thaksin and the questions asked to Thaksin.

The bulk of the conversation focused on the “golden era” of the Thai Rak Thai government when the economy was “booming.” In contrast to the “economic dark age” of General Prayut Chan-o-cha, COVID-19 notwithstanding.

In a truly democratic fashion, the floor was open to listeners. Questions were asked, highlighted by queries about the Tak Bai and Kru Sae incidents during his administration.

Tak Bai Incident
25 October 2004, Tak Bai District, Narathiwat Province.
Some 1,500 people marched on a police station to demand the release of six men accused of insurgency. They clashed with the security forces, who fired into the air and then into the crowd. Seven people laid dead. Around 1,300 were detained, stripped to the waist, and made to crawl to police trucks. They were kicked and beaten. Security forces piled them on top of each other on the trucks, 78 died from suffocation. The total number of deaths was 85.

Krue Se Incident
28 April 2004, Krue Se Mosque, Pattani Province.
After over 100 militants attacked 10 police outposts, 32 gunmen took refuge inside Krue Se Mosque. During the seven-hour standoff, the Defence Ministry ordered the military to negotiate a “peaceful end.” However, the military stormed the mosque, killing all 32.

Thaksin struggled to answer. He wasn’t prepared. More Clubhouse rooms popped up to discuss these incidents, both excusing Thaksin’s role and condemning Thaksin’s role.

That aside, the Clubhouse strategy was a resounding success in terms of Thaksin VS Prayut, who’s the more competent prime minister.

More importantly, this is what’s happening.
While street protests are dwindling, Clubhouse will play an important role in rejuvenating Thailand’s fight for democracy.

The leading influencers in Clubhouse are Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, and Thanatorn Juangrungruangkit. Each has well over 200K followers and still climbing. Thaksin’s first appearance last night got him 56K followers and still climbing.

When I first got onto Clubhouse, it was through a friend’s invitation who said, “People don’t talk politics in here. It’s casual conversations about life and work.” Well, that has changed.

Furthermore, every day there’s at least one room about the monarchy, and the room is always full, spawning more rooms.

What we have here is a space for free speech, where people exchange ideas and information. Some information are true and some are false; such is life.

Importantly, people get to listen directly to and talk directly to “the opposition,” unfiltered. Whether it’s the opposition in exile or the opposition that’s still refusing to flee, no matter how many laws General Prayut throws at him.

Freedom of speech is how you light the flame of democracy. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, etc.) has been instrumental in the Thai political awakening.

For the past couple of weeks, Clubhouse is pouring cold water on a Thailand that has been falling back asleep, screaming, “Wake the fudge up.” (Yes, I spelled “fudge” wrong.)

Meanwhile, we can also follow General Prayut on TikTok.

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