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Korn steps out in Samut Sakhon

During Korn Chatikavanij’s walkabout in Samut Sakhon, a tough fishing town a few hours west of Bangkok, security is light for such a high-profile minister of state at this difficult and dangerous time for his country.

A few traffic cops casually – and mostly successfully – try to move vehicles around the town’s jammed streets, to allow Korn’s modest ministry Toyota through the throng. Progress is slow and Korn abandons the car to plunge into the crowd.

"My staff tell me I’m too blasé about security," he says, as he greets traders and stallholders with a wai, Thailand’s traditional clasped-hand greeting. "But my own personal sense is that I never, ever, even with all the threats and stuff that is going on, I never really believe it will come to that."

That might not be wise in today’s Thailand. As Korn explains: "While these events – the May-June red uprising – were taking place I was named as one of the four individuals directly targeted for assassination." (The other three were prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, and the president of King Bhumibol’s Privy Council, general Prem Tinsulanonda, the man many regard as the government’s puppeteer.)

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