YESTERDAY, Thais were glued to the television for two different reasons – politics and sports. After waking up to newspaper headlines that former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and wife Pojaman might not return home to stand trial for corruption, at about 11.50am (Bangkok time) Thais watched NBT Channel announce that the billionaire couple will seek political asylum in England.
And then in the afternoon, Thais ooh-ed and ahh-ed over their TV sets when their compatriot tried to emulate the Olympian achievement of weightlifter Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon who struck gold in Beijing on Sunday.
Judging by yesterday morning's newspaper headlines, Thaksin stole the show from Prapawadee who buoyed national pride by lifting 221kgs and setting an Olympic record in the clean and jerk event.
NBT announced his exile decision in the morning, and even as political pundits digested Thaksin’s future, most Thais were focused on the Beijing Olympics.
“Nothing more to anticipate as he is now in England. However, in the Olympics we don’t know if another Thai athlete will win a medal,” explained editor of The Nation Tulsathit Taptim at 4.15pm yesterday.
At around that time, The Nation newsroom gave a collective sigh of dismay after weightlifter Wandee Kameaim failed to win the bronze medal.
Tulsathit said generally Thais welcomed the news that the Shinawatras would not return to Thailand after the court allowed them to travel to watch the opening of the Beijing Olympics.
“The major indication is the stock market which saw a jump today. Even last week there was a big jump when there were rumours that Thaksin will not be returning to Thailand,” he said.
“The prolonged anti-Thaksin and pro-Thaksin tension which has divided the country will decline as the man in the centre of it all has left.”
Read more in Malaysia Star
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