Thaksin, Yingluck step up publicity in defiance of junta

Deposed Thai premier Thaksin sent a book highlighting his achievements in office to the foreign media in Thailand.
Deposed Thai premier Thaksin sent a book highlighting his achievements in office to the foreign media in Thailand.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BANGKOK • Former Thai prime ministers Thaksin Shinawatra and Yingluck Shinawatra are stepping up publicity to reconnect with supporters in defiance of the military that toppled their governments.

The publicity drive, which includes a cooking display by Ms Yingluck and book giveaways, could signal the family's intention to one day return to power, said an expert.

Ms Yingluck, overthrown in 2014 by the junta that has ruled Thailand since, gave thousands of photo books about herself to journalists and diplomats as a New Year gift.

Her brother Thaksin, deposed by the military 10 years ago, sent a coffee-table book - Thaksin Shinawatra: Life And Times - to extol his achievements as premier.

"Thaksin's administration was leading Thailand into a political conflict," said a Foreign Affairs Ministry statement about his book, noting the "serious allegations" of graft and human rights abuses.

The siblings are despised by Thailand's military-backed royalist elite, but analysts believe their Puea Thai party could win the next general election, which the junta has vowed to hold next year.

The siblings' recent publicity drive is designed to reassure their base and needle their enemies, said political analyst Kan Yuenyong from Bangkok-based think-tank Siam Intelligence Unit.

Mr Kan said the efforts by the siblings were timed to coincide with the challenges facing the junta, which has struggled to energise the economy and snuff out opposition.

The draft of a new Constitution, due to be finished this month, will pave the way for an election next year that neither Shinawatra can run. But they can fuel a Puea Thai party campaign.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2016, with the headline 'Thaksin, Yingluck step up publicity in defiance of junta'. Print Edition | Subscribe