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Last Updated: Monday, 2 October 2006, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Thai farmer: 'Thaksin helped us'
Hua Fai village in Thailand's Sankhamphaeng district, 700km north of Bangkok, was a direct beneficiary of the policies that won ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra strong support among the rural poor.

Patrawat Kantason, a 21-year-old farmer, describes the shock in the village at the coup and the lingering uncertainty about the future.

 Patrawat Kantason
Patrawat Kantason would like to see Thaksin Shinawatra return
I am a farmer. I work in the field growing rice but I also feed two dozen cows and a dozen ducks too.

We found news of the military coup to unseat Thaksin unbelievable.

Villagers here have no fear of the military because the coup happened in Bangkok. There are no army checkpoints near here, our daily life goes on as normal.

The only big change is that we cannot talk about politics in groups of more than five people

I'm not sure how long the military junta will stay, but I know that the villagers would choose Thaksin to serve them again in the next election.

I feel the same way.

Sad for Thaksin

Map of the district
Most of the people in my community feel so sad for Thaksin's fate. Some think that the military may be doing this to unify Thai society.

I think that after his family sold his business without paying tax and the news spread wide through the media, Thaksin became unpopular, even though he did his best for the poor before this.

That was is his false step

We villagers in these rural areas want our old prime minister back in any upcoming election
For my family, the work that we do with cows and field agriculture is our livelihood. Thaksin had promised to increase the price of raw milk from about 12 baht to 16 baht per unit. It was to be done by next month, but Thaksin has gone now.

Thaksin gave us the chance to have so much. His "30 baht" healthcare scheme for all citizens gave villagers access to public health services at low cost.

Before Thaksin's government, there were no healthcare policies for people at the grassroots. There was social security for salary men in factories and offices.

Cows in the farm
Patrawat's family set up a milk business with money from credit schemes
So when we had to see the doctor, we had to pay a lot of money. Today, we only pay 30 baht ($0.80/0.50).

Because of Thaksin's credit schemes for people in agriculture, my father could borrow 30,000 baht to develop a cow milk business.

From the funds that came to our village, our community managed to build a water supply for every household in the village. There are only 100 houses here.

Their policies helped us so much.

Hard work

Farming work is hard. We get up at 5am to milk cows and sell 20kg of raw milk in town.

Then we work in the paddy field from 8am to 3pm. After that we milk the cows again and return to town to sell the raw milk to a co-operative. We finally finish work at 6pm. We needed such help.

Patrawat working in the field
Patrawat works the field for much of the day
Nowadays, villagers don't just grow rice. We need to do more for survival and to have a better income. For example, we also grow vegetables, flowers, keep animals or work in service sectors, on a construction site or in a factory.

So, we villagers in these rural areas want our old prime minister back in any upcoming election.

Interview by Pongpan Chumjai and Wittayakorn Boonrueng

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