Abhisit Vejjajiva’s Pungent Birthday Bouquet
Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 4th August, 2009
The UK-born Thai Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, turned 45 yesterday and as is the custom in these parts, he received presents from his political colleagues as well as from friends and family. The latter were comparatively modest: an iPod from his wife and a panda doll (sic) from one of his children. A rather embarrassed-looking fellow minister handed over a large bouquet of flowers, in which blue hydrangeas were prominent. This gesture seemed almost as much a tribute to the fact that the PM is still in office eight months after his controversial accession to power, following the political unrest in Thailand last December. I was in Bangkok then as well, and at the time many pundits doubted whether he would manage to keep his Democrat-led coalition’s act together.
As it is, supporters of the disgraced and exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra — known as the Red Shirts, for their distinctive apparel — are keeping up the pressure against the government. According to a report in the Bangkok Post, their birthday gift to Abhisit was a candle set in human excrement. Subtle, or what? Meanwhile, they have been collecting hundreds of thousands of signatures on a petition to get Thaksin pardoned for past irregularities, which would enable him to return safely. All of which the political mission I am on for the Westminster Foundation for Democracy in the Thai capital this week particularly timely and interesting.