23 May 2024

Former leader of the Democrat Party, Chuan Leekpai, has blasted party-hopping politicians for only pursuing self-interest and claimed that some MPs in Thailand’s oldest political party have been offered huge sums of money to switch parties.

Chuan, who currently serves as House Speaker, also admitted that he is concerned about a decline in the Democrat Party’s popularity in its traditional stronghold in the south.

Speaking to Thai PBS in a recent interview, Chuan expressed confidence, however, that voters still trust the party, despite a series of defections by some of its prominent members.

Over the past several months, the Democrat Party has seen the departures of several political veterans, which were blamed on discontent over its leadership, especially party leader Jurin Laksanawisit.

Chuan argued that most defections were, however, driven by self-interest.

“I don’t think dissatisfaction with the party leadership is the main reason. It has more to do with their fear of losing in the upcoming election. Then there are these offers to switch parties,” he said.

Chuan recalled a conversation he had with a would-be defector, who admitted that he had been offered as much as 200 million baht to switch to another party, on the condition that he achieved a clean sweep in his constituency in the election.

Chuan described politicians switching parties at this juncture as “people with whom we should not associate ourselves.”

“There are people who want to leave simply because they fear that they would have no chance of clinching Cabinet posts if they stick with the Democrats,” he said.

Chuan admitted that the Democrat Party is facing a major challenge in the upcoming election, especially in its traditional stronghold, which is likely to become a battleground among several political parties.

Chuan did say that he believes that voters still have faith in the Democrat Party. “I believe that the party’s honesty is something that still wins the hearts of the people.” he said.

Chuan also dismissed a need to revamp the party’s leadership, despite simmering discontent among its rank-and-file with its leader Jurin, which has been blamed for the departure of several senior members.