Thaksin Takeover: Commentary from Thailand

Most commentary–even the most critical commentary–about Thaksin written in the UK sports media thus far has written from the standpoint of what the takeover means for English football, or for Manchester City Football Club.

Thai commentators, however, are understandably more concerned with the political implications of the takeover. In fact, if there’s one assumption that unites all the Thai commentary on Thaksin’s foray into the Premiership that I’ve seen, it’s that it is a politically-motivated move intended to keep him in the public eye and boost his popularity at home.

The Nation of Bangkok has produced a number of editorials commenting on the takeover, including this piece on Saturday’s party in Manchester; this editorial advising the world to “stop falling for Thaksin’s stunts”; and this column suggesting that human rights groups criticizing Thaksin are fighting a losing battle. Notably, none of these pieces begrudge Manchester City fans for welcoming Thaksin and his money. Indeed, one post on a Thai internet forum trying to warn the club of the dangers of a Thaksin takeover expresses sympathy for the supporters. A more negative view of City supporters, however, portraying them as gullible suckers akin to the rural peasantry of Thailand, can be found in this blog entry.

It’s more difficult to find Thais who are proud of Thaksin’s purchase of Manchester City. But it would be wrong to conclude there are no such Thais; rather, it’s important to be aware of the strong class bias of Thai opinion available on the Internet. Put simply, folks in Bangkok are more likely than rural Thais to be using the ‘net or writing for national newspapers, and it was in urban areas that Thaksin was politically weakest at the time of the September 2006 coup.

Finally, see this charming blog from a Thai university student in Manchester.

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