The upcoming Thai general election, the first one after last year's military coup that ousted the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, will be held on this Sunday, or Dec. 23, without any participation of Thaksin himself, neither as a voter or a candidate.
He just flied to Hong Kong, for what he claimed a closer observation into the election.
However, during the period before the election, the name of Thaksin never disappeared from the Thai public, the military, the military-installed interim government, or various political parties.
"I will still elect Thaksin as our new premier, or vote for the party that he selects," said a Chao Khao (what Thais call hilltribe people) nicknamed Duk. Duk lives on a mountain in the northernmost province of Mae Hong So, and he told Xinhua that during the five years of Thaksin government from 2001 to 2006, his village has changed a lot, for better.
"We never had any electricity before because we lived on mountains. No company was willing to pay for the laying of electrical wires and poles from the power plant to our village, just for a small income from electricity fare," Duk said.
"But then one day in 2003, a group of workers quietly installed solar cells for every household, telling us we could watch television for three hours at night. I was surprised to learn that the solar equipment was as expensive as over 20,000 baht (about 600 U.S. dollars) and was offered free for us, because the Thaksin government had this 'every house has power to use' policy. So you could understand why I felt that way (for Thaksin)," Duk said.
Duk said he believes most of the Chao Khao there will elect the People Power Party (PPP), the pro-Thaksin party, as the next ruling party.
Duk is among the majority voters in the North and Northeast, strongholds of Thaksin and his disbanded Thai Rak Thai Party, who are believed to vote for the PPP, several recent opinion polls have shown.
"I could not say how many parliament seats that we could win," Jakrapob Penkair, a former aide of Thaksin and now the chairman ofthe PPP's media liaison department, told Xinhua on Friday at the PPP's headquarters in Bangkok, "but I can say we have a very high chance to win the election."
Jakrapob said the PPP is expecting to win more than half of the 480 parliament seats. "But even if we secure a majority of votes, we are willing to invite other parties to join us to form a coalition government," said Jakrapob.
On the other side, the military and opposition parties also set their eyes on Thaksin.
Recently, some junta-appointed organizations, including the Election Commission (EC), are focusing on a campaign speech by Thaksin that was distributed to the Northeast and the North on video CDs.
The VCDs, which had been distributed to locals, contains a message from Thaksin, who has already been banned from politics for five years, asking for voter support of the PPP during the general election.
EC said they are investigating the case and the result may lead to the dissolution of the PPP.
PPP's major rival the Democrat Party has set up hundreds of billboards around Bangkok, saying the PPP is the proxy of Thaksin and the Thaksin's system will harm the nation.
On Friday night, the last rally of the PPP before the election will be held at Bangkok's Sanam Luang square. During the rally, the PPP's executive Chalerm Yubamroong is expected to inform the Thais about the return date of Thaksin.