Thaksin Says “Happiness Is at Home” During Chiang Mai Visit

Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Friday that he was happy to reunite with his family, marking his first public statement since being released on parole last month.

He told journalists that family is the foundation of happiness and further elaborated in English, saying, “Happiness is at home.”

His comments were made during a visit with his family to a ceremony at a cemetery in Mae On district, Chiang Mai, honoring his parents.

Chiang Mai, Thaksin’s political stronghold, was highlighted by a dinner event that evening with three former prime ministers: Thaksin (2001-2006), his brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat, who briefly served in 2008, and the current Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin.

Srettha’s visit to Chiang Mai on Friday focused on finding solutions to the region’s severe dust pollution, an issue to which Thaksin offered insights.

Thaksin emphasized that the pollution problem would persist unless the burning of agricultural and forest lands is stopped.

He suggested banning imports from businesses that contribute to pollution, especially those purchasing from farmers who exacerbate air quality issues.

Joining Thaksin for dinner at the Summit Green Valley Golf Course were Thamanat Prompow, Agriculture Minister from the Palang Pracharath Party, and Julapun Amornvivat, Deputy Finance Minister from the Pheu Thai Party.

Thaksin described his six-month hospital stay at the Police General Hospital as a period of depression, which lifted following his reunion with his family upon receiving parole. “I am feeling better,” he told the media in a northern Thai dialect.

Supporters, in large numbers, gathered at Waroros Market, chanting “We love Thaksin. We love Thaksin,” as he made his first visit back to his home region in 17 years. He plans to return to Bangkok on Saturday.

The visit to the market was enthusiastic, with fans clearing a path for him, eager for photo opportunities.

Thaksin, a former police officer turned telecom tycoon, was accompanied by family members, including his youngest daughter, the leader of the Pheu Thai Party, Paetongtarn.

Market vendors warmly welcomed him, inviting him to visit their stalls with calls of “Mr. Prime Minister, this way please.”

After visiting the market, Thaksin paid his respects at the Doi Suthep Stupa, a significant landmark, where he was greeted by supporters.

His itinerary also included visits to the burial site of his parents in Mae On district, followed by a visit to Wat Rong Tham Samakkee in San Kamphaeng district, where he honored the memories of deceased relatives at a family burial ground.

The former Manchester City owner, now 74, was allowed by the Probation Department to visit Chiang Mai, seeking both alternative medical treatment and an opportunity to honor his ancestors.

Despite his age and reports of several health issues, he has remained under parole without serving time in jail since his sentence began in August of the previous year.

His health issues were a crucial factor in the decision to transfer him to the Police General Hospital shortly after his sentence began.