Reading through my research notes I came across an account of a Mahachon party rally held in a rural district of Chiang Mai province prior to the 2005 election. The local Mahachon candidate was clearly concerned that those at the rally didn’t know much about the party leader Anek Laothamatas. So he proceeded to give them a brief profile. Here is my research assistant’s summary of that profile, which I have translated. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of all the details, but the tone and the overall message is clear.

His name is Professor Anek. He is a man with a very lot of experience. He has qualifications from Columbia and Johns Hopkins. He has taught Westerners (farang) and has written textbooks for Westerners. He hasn’t just read Western text books like the leader of another party! He speaks and writes English very well. He is from the generation that fought for democracy. He fled to the forest when he was a student. Now that he has helped to build democracy he wants to help build the nation. He has given up a big salary to come and help the country. And he is a northerner! He speaks northern Thai. His mother is from Lamphun. And his father is from Chiang Rai. The northerners don’t just have one person in politics!