11 July 2024

Former prime minister Chuan Leekpai today squashed speculation that he might make a comeback as the leader of the Democrat Party.

He said incumbent party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has been doing a good job but welcomes challenges to the latter’s leadership by a number senior party members, describing it as part of the democratic process to choose the most qualified person to lead the party.

“I am ready to lend a hand to whoever becomes party leader.  I want to reaffirm that I have no intention of contesting for party leader again,” he said.

Abhisit is known to have Chuan’s full support to continue as the leader to take the country’s oldest political party into the next general elections, expected early next year.  However, Abhisit has made it known that he wants the party to hold a primary election so that party members will have a say in deciding who their leader should be.   A number of senior Democrats have already indicated they will enter the race to challenge Abhisit’s leadership.

There has been speculation that Chuan could be asked to retake the helm of the Democrat Party to guide it through the current political situation and to prevent possible infighting over its leadership.

“One strength of the Democrat Party is that whoever wants to be party leader has to go through a lot of trials.  He or she must have had a lot of experiences and has to prove  their forte during difficult times,” he said.   Chuan said he himself took as many 20 years before he could gain the acceptance of party members.

Chuan declined to comment on the individuals who have come forward to contest the party leadership.   But he said that the ongoing leadership race should be seen in a positive light and brushed aside speculation that some of the potential contenders were proxies of the military junta.

Chuan, who is currently chairman  of the party’s advisory board, insisted that the Democrat Party’s leadership is still united despite some differences among some of its core members.