6 June 2024

Jiraporn Sindhuprai, a fast-rising political star from a famous red-shirt family, has been promoted to the Cabinet as the new PM’s Office minister, in Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s first government reshuffle.

Jiraporn, 36, was elected as a Pheu Thai MP in the 2023 election with the highest number of votes not just in her home constituency of Roi Et but also in the entire country. She increased her share of the vote from 58,842 in the 2019 election to 61,288.

Just five years after she entered Parliament, her growing popularity and impressive political performances have earned her a Cabinet seat.

Red-shirt childhood

Born on September 11987, Jiraporn is the eldest daughter of Nisit and Aim-orn Sindhuprai. Both her parents were Roi Et MPs, but her father was also a co-leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) or the red-shirt movement.

During UDD rallies more than a decade ago, Jiraporn and her younger sister Chayapa, also a Roi Et MP, were often spotted at the front of the stage. Jiraporn said it was the eloquence of UDD co-leader Nattawut Saikuar that inspired her to develop her own speaking skills.

Education and career

Jiraporn studied at Assumption University’s Faculty of Arts in Bangkok before obtaining a master’s degree in political science at Ramkhamhaeng University. She later headed to England to attend the University of Reading, where she picked up a master’s in science. She also participated in the Cambodia-Thai Exchange Program.

During the time her parents were politically active, Jiraporn stayed out of politics and instead took jobs in the private and government sectors. She worked for Dhipaya Insurance and also for the Commerce Ministry’s Department of Trade Negotiations.

Political successes

Jiraporn made her political debut in 2019, contesting the general election as a Pheu Thai constituency candidate in her home province. Pheu Thai was at the time considered the parliamentary representative of the UDD and red shirts.

However, that relationship soured somewhat following the 2023 election, when Pheu Thai broke its pledge not to form a government coalition with military-backed parties linked with coup-makers.

After being elected in 2019, Jiraporn was quickly rewarded with the post of deputy spokesperson for the party. She was also handed coveted positions on several parliamentary committees. Among them was the high-powered House panel on economic development, for which she served as secretary.

However, it was on the parliamentary debating floor where Jiraporn’s skills really shone. Despite being a first-time MP, Pheu Thai allotted her nearly one hour to grill then-PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha during a headline-making censure debate in June 2022.

She did not disappoint. Her interrogation of the PM shone a light on national scandals regarding COVID-19 vaccine procurement and the controversial business activities of Prayut’s nephew in military camps.

Pheu Thai switched leaders from Cholnan Srikaew to Paetongtarn Shinawatra in October 2022, but the change failed to deflect Jiraporn on her path as a rising star in the party.

On the contrary, the party handed the first-time MP another promotion, appointing her as a deputy leader.

Observers saw the appointment as a strategic move by Pheu Thai to replace ageing veterans with youthful politicians like Jiraporn in order to appeal to young-generation voters. It came after Pheu Thai suffered a shock defeat to Move Forward in the 2023 election that was attributed to a surge of support for the latter party from youth voters.

Young following

Jiraporn appears to be popular among young people, judging by her more than 100,000 Facebook followers and 3.8 million-plus likes for her TikTok posts.

She is clearly adept at engaging young social-media users, earning a strong response every time she posts.

Her fans have also created clips and written posts about Jiraporn and fellow Pheu Thai lawmaker Theerarat Samrejvanich, 45, the only Bangkok MP who’s not a Move Forward member.

The two have even earned their own hashtag celebrating their appeal as a duo after making a string of public appearances together.

One clip shows Jiraporn with an admiring smile on her face as she listens to Theerarat deliver a speech in Parliament. They can usually be spotted sitting next to one another in the House.

As for leisure time, Jiraporn has hinted at a passion for pop music. She once admitted to being a hardcore fan of K-pop bands BTS and Blackpink.

By Thai PBS World’s Political Desk