General, daughter enjoy Thai-style family feud

Thu Nov 20, 2008 12:46am EST
 
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BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's three-year political crisis has divided friends and families, but few can have felt the strain as much as the Sawadipol clan.

The daughter, 27-year-old lawyer Khattiyaa, is an ardent supporter of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), the royalist protest movement that has occupied the Prime Minister's compound for three months in a bid to unseat the government.

Her father, widely known by the nickname Seh Daeng, is a maverick major-general, who has threatened to counter the PAD with bombs, rifles -- and snakes dropped from helicopters. Yet, according to a joint interview in the Bangkok Post published on Thursday, serenity rules under the Sawadipol roof.

"At home, my dad is lovely. He always makes me happy," said Khattiyaa, pictured getting a hug from her combat fatigue-wearing father. "Despite our differences, we need not fight. We must be open-minded and respect each other's freedom."

For his part, Seh Daeng, revered in Thailand as a folk-hero for his reputed undercover military exploits in Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia's Aceh, says his daughter's safety inside the PAD protest zone is not his concern.

"I told her if she was there, she had to take care of herself. I can't help it if she is hit by a bomb or an RPG," he said. "I can reproduce another child, but the country cannot be reproduced."

(Reporting by Ed Cropley; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Valerie Lee)