Thailand's Thaksin lauds digital-savvy Move Forward for election triumph
Thailand's influential former premier Thaksin Shinawatra on Tuesday (May 16) praised the election-winning Move Forward Party for mastering social media campaigns and said aging army generals central to years of turmoil should retire with dignity.
The self-exiled tycoon, the driving force behind the populist Pheu Thai Party, which finished a close second in Sunday's (May 14) ballot, said Move Forward proved social media and user-generated content (UGC) can triumph over big-spending campaigns and vote-buying.
Thaksin made the comments in a streamed discussion on the audio social media app Clubhouse.
"The Move Forward Party used UGC (User-Generated Content) on the TikTok platform because there are many young people and TikTok has the highest number of members. That's why it spread quickly and gets canvassers organically without needing to spend a lot of resources." Said THAKSIN SHINAWATRA former prime minister of Thailand
"It's a wake-up call for the army. Using excessive power is something Thai society rejects. So, it added to Move Forward’s currency."
The polarising billionaire remains a towering figure in Thai politics, despite being in exile for 17 years to avoid a jail sentence after he was ousted in a 2006 coup.
"Today, I have made the decision (to return home) without caring about anything else. Being away from home for 17 years feels like being in a big prison because it intrudes into my own home, my own country." he said.
"The core principle of the Pheu Thai Party and the Shinawatra family is to respect and love the institution of the monarchy. How others perceive it is not something I can control. I am who I am, and I am open to criticism because I do not engage in any negative actions towards the monarchy. I only engage in political struggles. As for the institution itself, I hold deep respect and reverence for it."
He reiterated he planned to return to Thailand in July and asked if he was ready to face jail said he was ready to face whatever was in front of him.
Before Sunday's vote, Pheu Thai and its previous incarnations had won every Thai election since 2001, including two in landslides, based on mass marketing and populist policies that won the loyalty of millions of working-class Thais.
During the discussion, Thaksin also pledged his family's loyalty to the monarchy and stressed Pheu Thai would not back any move by Move Forward that would impact the palace.