Dr Mahathir Mohamad's stunning victory in leading the opposition into power in Malaysia's 14th general election has inspired hope among supporters of former Thai prime minister Chuan Leekpai of a similar feat for their elder statesperson.
Buoyed by the historic events happening across the border, allies and supporters of the 79-year-old former premier have been pushing for him to be the Democrat Party's choice for the country's prime minister in the Thai general election in February next year.
They want Chuan, who currently plays an advising role in Thailand's largest party, to follow in the footsteps of 92-year-old Mahathir in making a political comeback and help them to bring an end to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s four year-old military-led government.
"I believe a lot of people support him (Chuan), but so far he has indicated that he isn't interested. But that may change in the future," said Democrat Abhisit Vejaviva, who is also a former prime minister of Thailand.
Speaking to the local media here recently, Chuan who will turn 80 this July, he said, commanded considerable support from voters as many people had both respect and faith in him.
Approached by the media about him ‘doing a Mahathir’ and becoming the Democrat's choice for the prime minister, Chuan declined to give his response.
Mahathir, who was Malaysia's fourth prime minister from 1981 until 2013, led Pakatan Harapan to unprecedented success by ending BN’s six-decade rule on the country.
Days after leading Harapan to victory, Mahathir was sworn in as Malaysia's seventh prime minister.
Stung by the unexpected defeat, which a foreign observer termed as no less than a "political earthquake, nine on the Richter Scale," defeated prime minister Najib Abdul Razak stepped down as Umno president.
Thai political analysts quoted by the local media said Chuan was the obvious "compromise" choice for the PM post for both the Democrat and the Pheu Thai party, should the two giants in Thailand’s political scene align themselves to set up a coalition government after the general election, in a move to thwart the military.
According to them, Pheu Thai, which is linked with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, would not allow Abhisit to lead the coalition government due to their bitter hostility, thus leaving for a compromise choice with Chuan as the preferred candidate.
Many of the observers anticipated that Prayut would return as prime minister after the general election.
Chuan first became Thai prime minister from Sept 1992 to May 1995 and repeated that feat for the second time from Nov 1997 to Feb 2001.
Meanwhile, former Democrat party leader Alongkorn Ponlaboot also voiced his support for Chuan's return as Thailand's next prime minister.
"After Mahathir's return as prime minister at 92, many people are thinking of Chuan as an alternative. He is a symbol of honesty. If the Democrat Party reforms itself and has a new vision, it may recreate a 'Mahathir phenomenon' here," he was quoted as saying.
The Democrat last won the general election 1992 when the party was led by Chuan.