Monday, July 25, 2011

Faking it for real beauty


Former Miss Malaysia finalist Leng Yein thinks nothing about going under the knife as long as it enhances her looks. And she says she may have a fake face and fake boobs but ‘I have a real personality’.

THE first time model Leng Yein thought of going for plastic surgery was in 2003 when she was 18.

At that time she was Miss Pahang and a Miss Malaysia 2003 finalist and her boyfriend had betrayed her with a pretty girl.

“I was quite heartbroken, so I told myself if one day I could afford it, I would make myself look pretty,” recalled the 26-year-old model who grew up in Kuantan.

Three years later, her wish became a reality. In an act which she described as “random”, she went under the knife in Beijing.

Leng Yein was in China to participate in Miss Tourism International 2006. After the pageant she extended her stay in Beijing.

“I went to a massage parlour because I was so bored.

“There was this girl with a red nose and I asked her, “Do you have a running nose?”

She replied, “No, I just did my nose.”

And I asked myself: “How come I did not notice she had a nose job” .

They became friends.

The next day the Beijing girl took her shopping.

“While shopping, she told Leng Yein that she wanted to say “hello” to her plastic surgeon.

“There were so many people lying down (at the clinic) cutting their nose. I could see that it was a dodgy place.

I asked, “How long to do the whole thing?”

I was told it took an half hour to 40 minutes.

“And there and then I did it (to make her flat nose sharper),” she said.

A few months later, while visiting Miss Thailand (whom she befriended during the Miss Tourism International pageant) in Bangkok, in another random act, Leng Yein went under the knife again. This time to stitch dimples on her cheeks and a boob job.

“Actually I have big breasts but they were just not that firm. I wanted them to be perky.

“And also I wanted them balanced (as one was slightly smaller than the other),” said the model who went from BC bra size to CD (one cup size bigger).

The boob job was painful. She could not jiggle them for two months or carry heavy stuff.

In 2008, she redid her nose (Her nose had an unnatural L-shape) in Kuala Lumpur. Plus the nose job was free as she was the ambassador of a plastic surgery company.

In Sept 2010, in Kuala Lumpur she made her lips (“they were really, really thin that when I smiled I couldn’t see them”) thicker.

Unlike most Malaysians who have undergone plastic surgery, Leng Yein has gone public about hers.

“I’m probably the only person in Malaysia who dares tell everyone that I went for plastic surgery. Maybe it is because I’m an Aries. I will write about it in my blog ( or Facebook (,” said the businesswoman, who owns a boutique, fashion accessories shop, nail & beauty salon, tattoo parlour and a mamak restaurant.

Her blog and Facebook followers’ response to her “confession” has been 65% negative (for example, do you want ending up like Michael Jackson?). But 99% of the private messages she received have been positive.

“Many are girls who want to go for plastic surgery but are afraid that people will think of them differently,” she noted.

So what does her hubby – who is quite a romantic (he proposed to her via a billboard in Petaling Jaya on 9-9-09) – think?

“He hates plastic surgery. But it (plastic surgery) was a random thing for me.

“When I did it and came home with stitches, he would ask ‘why do you keep cutting yourself?’ But he would respect my decision,” she said.

On Thursday, Leng Yein will fly to Seoul for probably her last plastic surgery as she doesn’t want to end up like Michael Jackson (who allegedly had a botched nose job).

She couldn’t resist the offer of free plastic surgery performed by South Korea’s top plastic surgeons.

In exchange of getting big eyes like Japan’s pop princess Ayumi Hamasaki, dimples (fake dimple last for a year), a new nose, she has agreed to be the poster girl of a Kuala Lumpur-based plastic surgery company.

At the end of the interview, the bubbly Leng Yein confided: “I might have a fake face and fake boobs but I have a real personality.”

Monday, July 18, 2011

Local celebs blur on Twitter


Tweet addict Adam Tuan Mukriz finds reading has never been this fun. On Twitter less is definitely more, and summing up one’s ideas in fewer than 140 characters is a challenge.

IT was a Wednesday night and Twitterer @ATM2U was very, very bored in his Kuala Lumpur apartment and he decided to be playful.

He remembered how a friend used reverse psychology on unfollowers (those who cease to follow a Twitter user) by thanking them for unfollowing.

@ATM2U thought it would be cool to pretend a celebrity had just unfollowed him.

Iman, a Somalian ex-supermodel and David Bowie’s wife, came to his mind, naturally.

@ATM2U explained in an e-mail: “Iman has always intrigued me as the epitome of a successful juxtaposition of cultures.

“Iman has a je ne sais quoi (French for “something that cannot be adequately described”). She is one of the earliest Black models who proved that beauty has no race, breaking many taboos.”

So he tweeted: “Thanks @The_Real_IMAN for unfollowing. Have a pleasant day filled with keimanan (faith)”.

“Unbeknownst to me, Iman was online,” recalled the man who speaks Malay, English and French fluently. “And she responded by saying: ‘ok, ok, ok.... i’m following! happy?”

“Hehehe! Cemas ni (I’m anxious) ... I am one step closer to Heaven!” was one of @ATM2U’s instant tweets.

Immediately, a few of his followers responded.

“Someone asked if we went to school together and another asked me to swear to prove I was not lying,” he revealed.

@ATM2U is clueless on why Iman – who follows 159 twitters including @KimKardashian (Kim Kardashian), @EvaLongoria (Eva Longoria) and @maryjblige (Mary J. Blige) – followed him.

“I prefer not to know. As superficial as it may sound, Iman following me on Twitter is as magical as a child watching a circus for the first time: the exuberant colours, the cacophonic sound, the earthy smell of animals,” he bubbled.

I asked @aimanurrahman (Aiman Abdul Rahman) why he is following @ATM2U. His reply via Twitter was: “... because his tweets are inspiring and funny”.

For me (@philipgolingai), I follow @ATM2U because he’s witty. For instance, @AkmalHisyam7 (Akmal Hisyam) tweeted: “My next client is a datin. How to entertain?”

And @ATM2U’s reply was: “Read 69 Ways To Entertain A Datin by Rico Tajuddin”.

Thinking I was funny, I tweeted: “Bring to kfc. Finger Lickin’ Good.”

@ATM2U is YM Adam Tuan Mukriz, the nom de plume of a “soon-to-be quadragenarian”, from Teluk Intan in Perak.

As he describes himself, “the only thing supreme about Adam Tuan Mukriz is that he loves The Supremes and Diana Ross. No ketuanan (supremacy) whatsoever.” He hates bourgeoisie.

Daily, Adam posts a minimum of 100 tweets on various topics.

“It is hard to pigeonhole my tweets as my interests vary from politics to entertainment and the arts. My tweets depend a lot on news appearing on my timeline (a real-time list of tweets on Twitter),” he said.

“Twitter’s fluidity is simply amazing. It is almost like a game trying to follow all the news – retweeting (the act of forwarding another user’s Tweet to all of your followers) and commenting if need be.”

He finds Twitter addictive and informative.

“Reading has never been this fun. Less is definitely more on Twitter. Summing up your ideas in fewer than 140 characters is a challenge,” says the Twitterer who does not do abbreviations.

Now that @The_Real_IMAN is following, what’s next?

“This is when it gets tricky. When someone follows you on Twitter, it gives you the impression that both of you are now friends,” noted @ATM2U.

“Wrong. Things get even trickier when a celebrity follows you based on several cute and lovely tweets you wrote about him/her – only to notice later that you are one boring person. And like a failed relationship, you get dumped – or aptly termed ‘unfollowed’.”

What’s @ATM2U’s take on Malay­sian celebs who tweet?

“Local celebrities are clueless when it comes to Twitter. They are either too nice or too stuck-up, with zero interaction. Too nice when they feel obliged to respond to every ‘hi’ and ‘hello’ - and too stuck-up when their tweets are just one-way communication,” he observed.

“They have to find a balance. The recent Bersih rally has somehow triggered more ‘mainstream’ local celebrities to tweet their two cents (worth) but unfortunately most of them were predictable.”

@ATM2U’s other 15 minutes of fame in Twittersphere is that a prominent mall in KL has blocked him. (To block someone on Twitter means they will be unable to follow you or add you to their lists).

“I was vocal in questioning its national language policy,” he said.

“I must have made an impact to be blocked. I am Erin Brockovich. LOL (laughing out loud.)”

Monday, July 11, 2011

Refreshing new change

One Man's Meat


A French chef at Bangkok’s Le Normandie restaurant, says the Thai Prime Minister-designate’s victory in the recent elections was making Thais come out to celebrate.

“IF Yingluck Shinawatra (the Thai Prime Minister-designate) was a French dish, what kind of dish would she be?” I asked Norbert A. Kostner, the executive chef of Bangkok’s Le Normandie, arguably the best French restaurant in Asia.

“Oui...I only know her from photographs. She looks like she does not wear too much makeup. She dresses well. She is always smiling,” noted Kostner, as he sat on a white rattan lounge – at the colonial-styled Author’s Lounge in the Mandarin Oriental, a luxury hotel along the Chao Phraya River.

It was four days after the Thai polls that saw Yingluck’s Pheu Thai party winning a decisive majority and I thought it was an appropriate question to ask the chef of Bangkok’s award-winning French restaurant.

It took chef Kostner a second to whip up a dish.

“I think she is a sort of a nice spring salad with some river lobster – something refreshing,” he said. “You take nice tender miniature lettuce, some red clawed river lobster, some good olive oil that has been aged since winter, then lemon and a bit of salt.”

The 66-year-old chef, who is Italian, continued: “The olive must not be too strong if not it would suck out the flavour. As to me she looks sort of innocent. She’s got beautiful eyes and yet she is strong. But she is ladylike and not like men who are always fighting. Women have a different way of speaking than men.”

Will the dish be arooy mak mak (Thai for very, very delicious)?

“Of course. Full of nutrition. It will be a beautiful dish. It will not be the sort where you go ‘urgh’,” he said, and making a gesture of person who had too much to eat.

“It will be very refreshing. The sort that will make you want to do things – go dancing, do work or want to be a lumberjack and cut wood.”

Like the refreshing spring salad, Kostner noted that Yingluck’s victory in the Thai poll was making Thais come out to celebrate.

The Mandarin Oriental’s Le Normandie has seen a 10 to 15% increase in clientele immediately after the pro-Thaksin Shinawatra Pheu Thai swept into power.

“I can see that people want to come out to celebrate. At least there is no uncertainty (in Thailand). People have accepted the election result and they are saying let’s get back to business,” he noted.

“Now we have a new government – whether good or bad – and the people want to see the end of the time of the last six years were we had Reds, Yellows, Blues and whatever colours.”

After the 2006 coup which ousted Thaksin as prime minister, business at the French restaurant was slow.

During the coup Le Normandie was forced to close down several times as there was no guests because of the curfew.

In 2008, when the Yellow Shirts seized Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports, the restaurant’s pantry was wiped out of imported produce.

“We just had to improvise with local chicken, beef and seafood. Everybody understood that we could not get foie gras and veal because the airports were closed,” Kostner related.

The chef added that the restaurant’s worst years were also during the SARs epidemic (no imported poultry allowed) and the Mad Cow Disease scare (“we still can’t get Black Angus out of Scotland or Irish beef”).

In 1958, the Oriental established Le Normandie to replace a restaurant that offered a menu comprising “80 dishes from around the world”.

The French restaurant, according to the chef who worked in the establishment since 1974, made a name in 1981 after the Oriental was voted number one hotel in the world by Institutional Investor magazine (an essential reading for the world’s movers and shakers).

It was an honour which the Oriental retained for 10 consecutive years, in 1994-1995 and 2000.

The secret recipe to Le Normadie’s success is its “software”.

“What has made the Oriental is its staff like Ankana (Kalantananda, a semi-retired 89-year-old guest relations consultant). I am very junior here compared to her,” said Kostner who has been with the hotel for 37 years.

“We have a pastry chef who is called Apollo because he joined us at age 14 or 15 on the day Apollo 11 landed on the moon (on July 20, 1969).”

The rest, hoped chef Kostner, – like the Thai violent six-year conflict – is history.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Thaksin still looms large in Thai politics

One Man's Meat


The former prime minister was not on yesterday’s ballot paper, yet the election was seen as some kind of referendum on his divisive legacy.

IN the just-concluded Thai polls, the one figure who loomed large in the minds of voters was the politician whose name was not even on the ballot paper.

Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted as prime minister in a coup on Sept 19, 2006, is not even in Thailand. And yet the election was seen as a sort of referendum on his divisive legacy.

“No one haunts and hovers over the Thai landscape like Thaksin Shinawatra,” declared Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of Chulalongkorn University’s Institute of Security and International Studies, in a talk on Thailand at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) in Bangkok on Tuesday.

“What is it about Thaksin? I know that even evoking his name elicits divisive reaction – some people really like him, some people really hate him.”

To give the audience – who were mostly farang (Thai for Westerners) – an understanding of the “indestructible” appeal of Thaksin, Thitinan brought them on a nostalgic trip to an era in Thai politics when elections did not matter much.

“In the past decades, people would vote. They would sell their vote and after that they would never see their MP.

“Their MP would come to Bangkok and enter Cabinet to gain position, so that they could exploit pork (appropriations by the government for political reasons rather than for public benefit) and commit graft,” the academician explained.

“They would lose legitimacy, the military would step in and there will be a coup.

“Eventually, we would have some kind of a (new) constitution and then we would have an election. And the electorate would sell their votes again.”

That was the story of Thai elections during the period when the country did not have outright military dictatorship from 1947 to 1973.

Politicians and political parties (except for the Democrat, Thailand’s oldest party which was established in 1946) came and went.

But something changed when Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai (Thais love Thais) party came in the picture in 1998.

“TRT came in with scientific methods in the elections. They paid for expensive polling (using expertise from abroad).

“They were very methodical in what was to be advertised and how to cater to the demands of the electorate.”

In the 2001 polls, TRT won 248 out of the 500 seats. And in the 2005 polls, the party won by a thumping 376 out of 500 seats.

In 2001, Thitinan said there was an opportunity to oust the telecommunications billionaire.

However, in an 8-7 decision, the Constitutional Court, citing insufficient evidence, acquitted the then prime minister of concealing assets (allegedly under the names of his cook, gardener and driver).

“In those days, the puu yai (senior elders) of Thai society gave Thaksin a chance,” related Thitinan.

“He was going to rescue Thailand from the IMF (International Monetary Fund), restore Thai competitiveness and usher in economic recovery from 1997 to 1998.”

Thaksin, according to the academician, did many things that were seen as revolutionary in Thailand.

For example, reforming the bloated bureaucracy and envisioning a bold foreign policy.

The downside of Thaksin’s rule were allegations of corruption. He hawked the economic pie (his family and friends won government contracts), human rights violations (his brutal war on drugs, which saw summary executions) and many other sins of misrule.

“Thaksin’s legacy is a mixed one,” Thitinan summarised.

Eventually, Thaksin was ousted in a coup in 2006.

The main justification was corruption allegations centred on the Shinawatra family’s decision to sell telecom company Shin Corp to Singapore’s state-owned Temasek Holdings for a tax-free US$1.9bil (about RM4.7bil).

“What needed to happen after the coup was the adoption of the positive legacies of Thaksin.

“But it did not happen,” said the academician.

“And I asked myself many times – and it is not rocket science (to follow Thaksin’s populist policies) – why they couldn’t just concede that Thaksin did some good things for Thailand?

“But if they conceded this point, it would mean admitting that behind the hospitable and smiling kingdom of Thailand, most people are poor who have been marginalised.

“Disaffected, the poor found a huge appeal to Thaksin’s populist policies.”

In 2007, Thaksin’s People Power Party (the reincarnation of TRT) won the elections. However, with the military and puu yai behind them, the Democrats led by Abhisit Vejjajiva managed to overthrow the PPP coalition government in 2008.

It was extraordinary, noted Thitinan, that Yingluck Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai party – which was dissolved twice (TRT and then PPP) – and its top politicians banned – would win the election.

Thitinan added: “His supporters and many Thais who are not enamoured with Thaksin are going to vote for Pheu Thai because they are not happy with what has happened (the interference of the puu yai) in Thailand in the past five years.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Is a coup on the cards?

By Philip Golingai

The Yingluck Shinawatra-led Pheu Thai party is expected to win the polls. Whether it gets to govern successfully is another matter.

THREE days before today’s polls, Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha had to go on record to state that the military would not stage a coup if the Yingluck Shinawatra-led Pheu Thai party wins and forms a coalition government. “The rumours are merely rumours. There’ll be no coup. I have said so several times,” said Prayuth, one of the masterminds of the coup that ousted Yingluck’s brother Thaksin as Prime Minister on Sept 19, 2006.

Most Thais do not share the general’s optimism that the military would stick to its word of not interfering in politics again. Most are pessimistic about post-election Thailand. And Thai political analysts agree that the election will not magically solve the country’s sixyear political conflict.

So what’s the political pundits’ prediction of the outcome of the elections? “It should be a Pheu Thai victory,” said Kevin Hewison, director of the Carolina Asia Center at the University of North Carolina, United States.

“The margin is unclear. All polls say it will be a huge victory. I will be surprised if it is as large as some of the polls have suggested. But it will be a convincing win.”

Hewison, a Thai watcher since the 1970s, added: “If not, there will be a lot of explaining to do.” He was, of course, alluding to the much whispered talk that this election is very “dirty”.

“If the opinion polls are right,” wrote Suranand Vejjajiva in Bangkok Post on Friday, “for the fourth election in a row over the past decade, the political party led in person or in absentia by Thaksin will prevail.”

Suranand, a political analyst who served in the Thaksin government, and Hewison basically voiced what most people (even politicians from Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s Democrat party quietly admit) take as a given: Pheu Thai will win most of the 500 MP seats up for grabs. It is all a matter of margin.

What can’t be agreed is whether Pheu Thai can form the next government. Conventional wisdom will dictate that it should be a walk-in-the- park for a party with the most seats to form a government.

But this is Thailand. The main player in Thai politics can’t even be mentioned and there is an invisible hand manipulating events behind the scene.

“If it is a normal election, Pheu Thai will form the government and Yingluck will be Thailand’s first female Prime Minister,” opined Kan Yuenyong, executive director of Siam intelligence Unit, a think tank specialising on politics, economics, public policy and foreign affairs.

“But I would like to make a bet that the Democrat party will form the next government,” he said. He, however, qualified his bet with “unless Pheu Thai can win a landslide victory.”

In this election, Kan explained, Pheu Thai was not only fighting the Democrat party and its coalition partners such as Bhum Jai Thai (Pride of Thailand Party). It is Pheu Thai, Thaksin and the Red Shirts supporters vs the rest of Thailand minus the neutrals (who, based on some estimates, comprise about 50% of the population).

To pigeon-hole Thai politics, it is: New Force vs Old Force. New Capital vs Old Capital. Progressive vs Conservative. “But it is not as simple as that,” explained Kan. “For example, there are people in the New Force who are in the Old Force.”

What the Thaksin forces are facing, said Hewison , is the power that be. In a nutshell, he said, the power that be are: military (which has either been in government or has had considerable influence over the government for many decades); big businesses (particularly Sino-Thai businessmen who control big banks and conglomerates and have a relatively easy relationship with the military); aristocratic elite (those who see themselves as born to hold position in the military, businesses and government and who consider Thailand as theirs); and the palace (a term used for people around the monarchy).

And Thaksin is the figure the power that be fears the most. “... in 2005, Thaksin grew to be a threat to the so-called establishment, as his influence at the time undeniably wielded itself across the board – in politics, business, bureaucracy and through his classmates in the military,” wrote Suranand in his column Let It Be.

(Thaksin is a former police officer who studied at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School.) Hewison said Thailand was facing political turmoil because, for many years, it had an unspoken agreement on how politics was organised.

“Before the 1997 Constitution (described as Thailand’s most liberal), weak coalition governments rose and fell but there was a power structure that organised the way Thailand operated,” the academic explained.

Then came Thaksin, who has never lost in a Thai election and is the only Prime Minister to complete a full elected term. He “usurped” the elite’s power.

“The power that be decided they would not give up their power without a fight,” Hewison said. “In the last two or three elections (Thailand’s April 2006 election was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court), the people who lost did not accept the result and worked to overthrow the result through a coup and judicial intervention,” Hewison said.

The odds are stacked against a victorious Pheu Thai. Even if it wins the most seats, it might not be able to persuade other parties to join it to form a coalition government. The power that be can always stage a “silent coup” by persuading other parties to decline the Pheu Thai invitation.

This happened in 2009 when the prime minister’s post landed on Abhisit’s lap. Chumpol Silpaarcha, leader of Abhisit’s coalition partner, the Chart Thai Pattana Party, has admitted that his party had a “forced marriage” with the Democrats and three other junior parties, Bhum Jai Thai, Puea Pandin and Social Action, and that it was cobbled together by the military.

Even if the Pheu Thai managed to form a government its rule might be short-lived. And the playbook for the downfall of two pro-Thaksin Prime Ministers– Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wong sawat – could be played out again.

“Yellow Shirts will make a mass street protest. Yingluck will face a legal charge (allegedly for giving false testimony during an asset concealment case involving Thaksin), Pheu Thai (is the reincarnation of the People Power Party which is the reincarnation of Thai Rak Thai) will face a legal charge to dissolve,” Kan predicted.

In short, it will be déjà vu again. And if Abhisit and the Democrats returned to power, the country will revisit the bloody conflict of 2010- 2011. The Red Shirts will return to the streets and Abhisit’s government will deal with them with live bullets. When will it end?

“Whatever we call them – power that be, the elite, the royalists, they have to make the historic compromise,” Hewison opined. “In other countries, the ruling class has done this in the past. They made the compromise and recognised that a democratic form of government is in fact another way of controlling the people.”

How about a coup, which will be Thailand’s 19th since the 1932 revolution that saw the overthrow of the absolute monarchy? “You can’t rule it out. The military would like that to be a sort of a fallback option. General Prayuth has shown himself to be anti-Thaksin, anti-Pheu Thai and anti-Yingluck,” Hewison said.

“If things do not go according to his desires, a coup is on the cards.”

Friday, July 01, 2011

Coup maker’s party in the race for Thai polls


IT was a scene reminiscent of the Happy Coup in 2006 where elated Bangkokians showered the soldiers with roses.

Arriving at a makeshift stage in a Buddhist temple in Samut Prakan, about 20km from Bangkok, retired General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin was mobbed by about 100 Thais – mostly women – who excitedly presented him with red roses on Wednesday night.

It was a warm reception for coup maker-turned-politician at his campaign stump in Samut Prakan, a town located at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River to the Gulf of Thailand.

It is typical of Thai politicians to be showered with roses by adoring fans.

In 2006, Army Commander Sonthi launched a coup which brought down the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Sept 19, 2006.

The 64-year-old former general, who retired in October 2007, is now the head of Matabhum Party (Motherland Party).

His party is targeting Malay Muslim voters living in Thailand’s deep south provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani.

After his campaign speech, in an interview held behind the stage, Sonthi, speaking through a translator, said in Thai that he was in politics because he did not want Thailand to be politically divided.

“I don’t want my country to be separated by Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts,” he explained.

“If you are not red and yellow, then what’s your colour?” I asked the smiling general.

“If you mix red and yellow what you get is ....” he said, pointing to his orange-coloured Matabhum t-shirt.

Kevin Hewison, the director of the Carolina Asia Centre in the University of North Carolina, said Sonthi had always claimed not to be interested in politics.

“But after the coup – I’m not sure if he was the major player running the coup but he became the head of it – he kind of liked the power he had,” said the Australian who is an expert on Thai politics.

“And it looks like the changes made in the 2007 Thai constitution give small parties more (bargaining) power.

“Sonthi is the head of a very, very small party which might win four or five MP seats and he might get a minister post out of that.”

Sonthi does not regret launching the 2006 coup.

“It was the people who wanted to coup. And it is the duty of the army to protect the county,” the soldier, who is economical in his answers, said.

Asked if he was afraid that Thaksin would return to Thailand and take revenge on him, Sonthi smiled and said: “Not at all. It all depends on the population.

“If they love me they will protect me.”

There was no indication the former general feared for his life as he was lightly protected during his visit to Samut Prakan.

Unlike the Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who has complained he was hounded by the pro-Thaksin Red Shirts during his campaigning, Sonthi said he was warmly received wherever he went.

Sonthi said he formed Matabhum as his mission was to solve the violent conflict in the three restive provinces.

“A big party would not fully focus on these provinces,” he said.

“Just allow the locals to solve their own problem as they know who the masterminds behind the (killings and bombings) are.

“They can report to their village heads on who these people are.”

The retired general, who is a Muslim, added that he did not agree with the government’s policy of sending soldiers to quell the violence in the three provinces.

Sonthi believes the Malaysian Government fully supported Thai­land in solving the bloody conflict in the Muslim-dominated provinces bordering Malaysia.

“Kuala Lumpur wants it solved as soon as possible as they know the violence can affect them along the border,” he explained.

The former general expects his party to win about 15 out of the 500 MP seats up for grabs.

Asked which party he would support once the votes were counted, Sonthi said, “I will join (the coalition government) which has the same mission and vision as my party.”

In Thailand politics, that is the code phrase for: “Regardless of political ideology, I will join whichever party that forms a coalition government.”

Interestingly, the coup maker is willing to support Pheu Thai headed by Yingluck, Thaksin’s youngest sister.

A political analyst said, “Not a surprise as this is Thailand.”

Sonthi is gunning for a minister post which complements his job experience – Defence Minister.

“If not, then maybe a minister post where I can help to build up society,” he revealed.

On Sunday, Sonthi hopes Thais living in Malaysia will return to their homeland to vote him back to the seat of power.