Published on March 1, 2008
Is it just me or do you feel the same?
The prostration is yet another brilliant act of his and it did work well considering that the photo was featured on the front page of every daily newspaper in Thailand.
Even better, some people are still arguing whether he kissed the ground. As seen on TV, I'd say he just prostrated himself.
He intends to show the country that he loves and misses Thailand so much. I wonder if anyone does it better than him. To my knowledge, no political figure returning from exile has done this prostration before. Does it mean Thaksin loves Thailand more than other previously exiled politicians? I have no idea.
Thaksin even went one better at his "low-key" arrival by addressing a press conference in which he told the country that he would quit politics.
On his arrival, his supporters were moved by his gesture and many were seen in tears. The crowd sang and cheered in praise of him. He greeted them and that was enough. He was the good guy to all of them.
Later on his first day back, he told the press he wants to prove himself and rebuild his good reputation. His return is not to seek revenge and he called for unity for the sake of the country and the King. He also plans to contribute to the country by focusing on charity work and making his Manchester City Football Club the pride of the nation.
His talk is as sweet as ever. A promise is a good thing to hear, but how to deliver it is another matter. The question now is, how is Thaksin going to show he really means what he says.
Of all his promises, staying away from politics is the biggest. And he must know by now that he has told people he would quit politics far more often than anyone in this country can recall. Moreoever, it will be interesting for him to find out why, every time he says this, analysts tend to predict otherwise.
Political analysts believe that one of Thaksin's priorities will be trying to keep Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on a tight leash. They say his return is designed to end the independence that Samak enjoys.
But nothing is as clear as Samak's words: "Today is my day as prime minister." He just adds more weight to the analysis.
Thaksin may have to do some soul-searching about what went wrong with his "I quit politics" statements. They are not so convincing as far as Samak is concerned.
It is sweet to learn that the former premier wants to return to "pay back" his motherland. Such words are always nice to hear, but it is action that counts, and everybody is eagerly waiting to see how the man will deliver this time around.
And when he ruled out any intention of revenge, those who toppled him could hardly believe it. Analysts also point out that the urgent task for him is not the country; he'd rather get his money back.
If his good-citizen plan is to happen, Thaksin will have to do two simple things. One is the future he has already talked about at length in the press conference. And the other, more importantly, is to make amends for the past.
He can ask himself two simple questions. Do his countrymen most want Thailand as a home for Manchester City or do they want harmony for the country and peace in the South?
Whether he admits it or not, he has created the country's rift, the division between those who love him and hate him that has developed since he was PM. During his exile after the coup, he added salt to the wounds by continuing to cause division between people who are either against him or support him.
A patriot will unite the country by not creating any rift. He must learn that (or be told).
And the problem in the South, which has intensified since he led the government, is also a part of the past (and present) that tarnishes his patriotic CV.
It seems the time is ripe for Thaksin to turn this opportunity into a golden one and show his real patriotism. If he does, it will remain in people's hearts much longer than the prostration. I don't know if there is a successful path to patriotism but I know that one must do less for himself and more for the country.
I can't claim to be a patriot so I can't really offer any advice. My only clear patriotic act is that I have to pay my income tax every year. So don't fail in this because I don't know what it makes you if you do?