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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

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Thaksin Shinawatra’s daughter to run in Thailand election

The country has become more polarized since Mr Thaksin and his sister left. Disagreement remains between the “red shirt” pro-Thaksin protesters from the rural north and the “yellow shirt” anti-Thaksin faction made up of royalists and urban elites. A new political divide has also emerged—one that stretches along generational lines.

In 2020, thousands of mostly young protesters gathered on the streets of Bangkok, calling for democratic reforms and, most surprisingly, for an end to the power of the monarchy, in a critique of the monarchy country may result in a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

Once a stable ally of the United States, Thailand has grown closer to China under the junta that toppled Shinawatra. The country’s economic growth last year was the slowest in Southeast Asia compared with other major economies in the region. Many Thais blame Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is trailing in the polls.

Pheu Thai echoed Mr Thaksin’s populist policies by promising cash handouts and raising the minimum wage to $18 a day from the current average of $10.

Paetongtarn, better known by her nickname “Ung Ing”, is the third child of Mr Thaksin and Potjaman Na Pombejra, who divorced Mr Thaksin in 2008. As a little girl she campaigned and played golf with her father. She graduated from Chulalongkorn University with a degree in Political Science and went on to study International Hospitality Management at the University of Surrey in the UK.

In a TV interview in 2022, Ms Paetongtarn recalled the day when the army staged a coup to overthrow her father, when she was 20. She was studying with a friend when her mother called to tell her to come home: “The tank is out.” “I was confused and thought: ‘What is a tank?'” recalls Ms Paetongtarn. She said she cried and feared for her family’s safety.

“The country needs to move forward,” she said in the same TV interview.

Mr Thaksin said his daughter was elected to politics after people said “they wanted representatives of the Shinawatra family to be a force in the party”. They had asked for a volunteer, and “Paetongtarn answered the phone,” he told Japanese news outlet Nikkei Asia.

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