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    Thaksin’s daughter takes Shinawatra brand to new Thai generation

    BANGKOK (AFP) – She has half a million followers on Instagram, leads a glamorous lifestyle and describes herself as the “little girl” of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra – one of the most influential and controversial figures in modern Thai history.

    The 35-year-old Paetongtarn Shinawatra, youngest of billionaire tycoon Thaksin’s three children, is now launching herself into the country’s deeply divided political scene ahead of a national election due by March 2023.

    The move brings the Shinawatras’ influence to a new generation and sets the stage for the latest round in the ultra-rich clan’s 20-year tussle with the kingdom’s royalist-military elites.

    For now, Paetongtarn has a low-key role with the main opposition Pheu Thai party but she is widely tipped to be named its candidate for prime minister when an election is called.

    The 72-year-old Thaksin, ousted as prime minister in a military coup in 2006, pops up regularly in Paetongtarn’s social media posts hugging her baby or posing with his daughter over a bowl of noodles.

    The youngest daughter of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Paetongtarn Shinawatra attends a PheuThai Party campaign event in Bangkok. PHOTO: AFP

    Paetongtarn said she draws strength from her father’s “unwavering support” and insists she will always be his “little girl”.

    It is a sentiment that endears her to the legion of supporters, many of them poor and rural, who swept Thaksin to election victories in 2001 and 2005.

    “We need you. We miss your father,” a well-wisher told her during campaigning for Bangkok local elections last month.

    But it will also raise the hackles of the powerful royalist and military elites who despise Thaksin and have long suspected him of manipulating the opposition to their political dominance from abroad.

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