A Change of Guard

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Thursday, 31 December 2009

Thaksin popular in Cambodia, too

Mr. Thaksin embracing his red shirt supporters in Siem Reap, Cambodia in mid November.

Published: 25/12/2009
Bangkok Post

Cambodians living across the border from Thailand's northeastern provinces idolise ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a study shows.

The initial findings of the research conducted by National University of Singapore senior lecturer Peter Vail for the Thailand Research Fund were unveiled on Tuesday.

They show border people in Cambodia, due to their geographical proximity to Thailand, are impressed with the former prime minister and the populist policies implemented when he was in power.

"They [survey respondents] also enjoyed discussing polarised Thai domestic politics and we could see several effigies in these areas slandering Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva,'' said Mr Vail, who is also attached to the Mekong Sub-region Social Research Centre at Ubon Ratchathani University.

The northern Cambodians related to the red shirt group and found the yellow shirts were backward-looking people who wanted to steal Cambodian land and artefacts, he said, adding that they might also want to talk about Cambodian politics but they could not.

"They simply said they did not like [Cambodian Prime Minister] Hun Sen but wanted Hun Sen to introduce populist projects like Thaksin did to Thailand,'' the researcher said.

Northern Cambodians also disapproved of the Thai-Cambodian spat over Phnom Penh's campaign to list Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site.

"They just want to do business and make money,'' Mr Vail said. "They simply want better livelihoods, helped by border trade.''

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