``So many people in the northeast are uneducated and just take money for their votes,'' said Maytham Thamthanakorn, a 30- year-old construction-materials executive, at a recent People's Alliance rally in Bangkok. ``We need to educate them.''This is what you often hear in Bangkok, whenever the legacy of Thaksin comes up in conversation: that Thaksin bought off the poor voters. From Bangkok-based Thai media, it is unusual to hear the rural response to this charge. The article continues:
The issue Thailand's rural residents seem to appreciate most about the Thaksin era -- which the current government promises to continue -- was that he made medical care affordable:
Farmers in the northeast, who stay abreast of current events at night via cable television, dismiss any notion that their votes are for sale.
``The Bangkok protesters have a bad impression of the northeast, but they never come to see for themselves what it's like,'' said Angkana Duangaew, 32, as she herded buffalo through a muddy, fly-filled pasture in Udon Thani. ``Poor people were very happy under Thaksin.''
For many in the fifth-poorest of Thailand's 76 provinces, Thaksin's greatest legacy was a health-care program that cut the price of each hospital visit to 30 baht (87 cents).
``Many people tried to borrow money from neighbors when they got sick or they just stayed home,'' said Buanna Sodsong, 44, who works as a maid. ``Now if someone gets sick, they just go to the hospital.''