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THIS IS THAILAND
A Week in Review: May 28 - June 3, 2011


Which little piggies are trying to get their snouts in the trough?

The PAD keeps telling the people of Thailand to stop animals from getting into the Thai parliament. But which little piggies have been trying to get their noses in the trough this week? Find out here…

Despite being currently banned from politics, Thaksin Shinawatra remains the de facto leader of the Phuea Thai Party and continues to play an influential role in Thai politics.

At the beginning of last week, a lot of attention was focused on whether or not Yingluck Shinawatra, the proxy leader of the Phuea Thai Party, would take part in a debate with Democrat leader and current Prime Minister of Thailand, Abhisit Vejjajiva.  

Many believed that Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s fugitive former PM, was holding his pretty but politically inexperienced younger sister back because he knew she could not compete with Abhisit in a meaningful debate that would expose the utter impracticality of Phuea Thai’s outrageously populist policies.

Yingluck was selected by Thaksin for many reasons, but her political ability was not one of them. And while Yingluck’s loyalty remains unquestioned, the marketability upon which Thaksin was counting may have peaked already. After a week of euphoria following her appointment, Yingluck is already finding herself increasingly inconsequential.

It is becoming more apparent by the day that Thaksin chose his sister to win votes and not to lead the country. While much fuss was made about the choice of Yingluck to lead Phuea Thai into the election, Thaksin has already admitted that she may not be his choice as PM if Phuea Thai wins. Indeed, the battle to become Thailand’s next PM may be far from the 2-horse race that many believe. Newin Chidchob, for one, certainly seems to think otherwise.

Despite being currently banned from politics, Newin Chidchob remains the de facto leader of the Bhumjaithai Party and continues to play an influential role in Thai politics.

Newin mischievously suggested to reporters last week that neither Yingluck nor Abhisit would be Thailand’s next PM. This led to speculation that Charthaipattana’s Chief Advisor, Maj. Gen. Sanan Kachornprasart, would be offered the role by Phuea Thai as a sweetener to entice the small political party to join a coalition with Phuea Thai to ensure that it had enough seats to form the next government.

Upon hearing the speculation, Democrat Party secretary-general, Suthep Thaugsuban, told reporters he didn’t think Sanan would be the next PM. This apparently upset the seemingly fragile ego of Sanan so much that Suthep was forced to make a public apology for hurting the feelings of the former Democrat MP whose career has been blighted by claims of corruption and who has served a 5-year political ban for concealment of assets.

Suthep explained that it had all be a misunderstanding and that he was merely questioning whether Phuea Thai would win enough seats to head a coalition government. However, even his explanation upset Banharn Silpa-archa, another of Thailand’s political dinosaurs.

Despite being currently banned from politics, Banharn Silpa-archa remains the de facto leader of the Chartthaipattana Party and continues to play an influential role in Thai politics.

Banharn said that accusing his party of having already sided with Pheua Thai was unacceptable.  Just in case anyone misunderstood this as being a stand on principle or policy, Banharn clarified any doubt by saying that Chartthaipattana would support any party with a majority vote – the only 'policy' of the party being that it wanted to be a part of the government.

Similarly, Bhumjaithai's deputy leader, Sohpon Zarum, also clarified his own party’s policy by announcing that its sole aim was to be part of the next government, regardless of which party leads it or who is prime minister. "We must be in the government. That's our only goal," he said.

But it takes two to tango and Phuea Thai MP candidate, red shirt leader and suspected terrorist Natthawut Saikua boldly announced that Phuea Thai would never work with Newin Chidchob and the Bhumjaithai Party.

It seemed that Yingluck hadn’t read that particular memo, however, as she said that a partnership with Bhunjaithai could be possible.

Obviously still holding a grudge over Newin’s defection, Thaksin quickly moved in to clarify the situation and announced through Pheua Thai leader Yongyuth Wichaidit that the party's executive committee (Thaksin) had decided not to work with Bhumjaithai because they were too different ideologically (Thaksin doesn't like Newin).

Bhumjaithai leader Boonjong Wongtrairat retaliated immediately by announcing that Bhumjaithai would definitely not join Pheua Thai to form a government. “If Pheua Thai wins the election and forms the next government, Bhumjaithai is ready to be in opposition,” he said – which, in political terms, is only a mild adjustment to the party stance announced by Sohpon a couple of days earlier.

Of course, perhaps ‘no’ will win the election. As the yellow shirt PAD continues its ‘vote no’ campaign in an effort to ‘stop animals from getting into parliament’, PAD member Somkiat Pongpaiboon said it was gaining momentum and that up to 4 million Thai voters were expected to cast votes for no candidates.

However, this figure also includes voters who abstain from voting altogether and in no way reflects the actual size of support for the yellow shirt movement.

Once considered a major political force, the yellow shirts are fast fading into insignificance. This was perfectly exemplified last week when they announced that they would end their protest soon.

Most people thought they already had.

Paul Snowdon – June 4, 2011

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Have your say...

David Donald
04 Jun 2011, 21:19
Most other animals don't get voted in, but there IS a huge population of Dumbass's moving in after every election.
bangkokdave
05 Jun 2011, 02:29
I'm curious to see how this Yingluck "fever" plays out. A part of me actually wants PT to win, so that they can finally lose all credibility... but if they win, other things may happen before that day comes.
Naked Farang
05 Jun 2011, 02:53
Losing credibility implies taking responsibility and accountability - neither of which apply in the amnesic world of Thai politics
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