Pheu Thai protects Sudarat against ban
Thursday, October 25, 2018: Due to the looming party dissolution threat, Pheu Thai today has reportedly decided to keep Sudarat Keyuraphan away from an executive position. She will be the party’s candidate for the prime ministerial post, but the leadership of the party will be kept by Viroj Pao-in.
Sudarat is set to chair the party’s strategic committee, a legally insignificant position. This way, she will not be banned from politics if the party gets dissolved for its connection with Thaksin Shinawatra.
In what could be the same tactic, Varawut Silpa-archa will not have any executive position in the Chat Thai Pattana Party. His big sister, Kanchana Silpa-archa, is set to become leader of the Chat Thai Pattana Party out of seniority, but the man himself is steering away from an executive post to avoid an accidental ban from politics.
Wednesday, October 24, 2018: The Pheu Thai Party looks certain to get another ally in the Seri Ruam Thai Party, whose executives include many former Pheu Thai figures and ardent critics of the military. Seri Ruam Thai, unveiling its executive team today, has former outspoken police officer Seripisut Temiyavet as its leader. He has repeatedly vowed never to work in a military government and been seen as very sympathetic toward pro-election activists.
Tuesday, October 23, 2018: What triggered a new “party dissolution” threat against Pheu Thai all of a sudden? Analysts believe that the Election Commission has come out to threaten to find out whether Pheu Thai was under influences of an “outsider”, an offence punishable by party dissolution, because Thaksin Shinawatra had made a threat first. He said overseas that a government not supported by MPs could have budget bills or other pieces of legislation derailed and could even lose a censure vote.
Thaksin was referring to the fact that although senators are provisionally empowered by the Constitution to join MPs in selecting the post-election prime minister, the Senate does not have that much power to protect a government on certain parliamentary affairs, particularly at no-confidence debates. In Thaksin’s opinion, a prime minister relying primarily on senatorial support will be shaky if his opponents control the House of Representatives.
The EC has confirmed today it would investigate connections between Pheu Thai and Thaksin. The issue had been discussed previously following a few reported meetings between him and Pheu Thai politicians. Outsiders trying to influence or influencing political parties face up to 10 years in jail, whereas the parties can be dissolved, with their executives banned from election and from setting up new parties for 10 years.
Monday, October 22, 2018: Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan made a few comments on Thaksin Shinawatra today. Much of what he said was expected, and most significantly perhaps was his strong confirmation that the general election would take place on February 24 next year.
He said that Thaksin was muddying the Thai water ahead of the election with comments, interviews and planned speeches. Prawit, when prompted by reporters, did not say directly if he thought the Election Commission should investigate links between Thaksin and Pheu Thai, something that could lead to party dissolution, but the deputy prime minister was highly critical of the ousted leader and a few media outlets would take his remarks as encouraging an EC investigation.
In another development, Kanchana Silpa-archa became leader of the Chat Thai Pattana Party despite her relatively lower profile than her kid brother Varawut Silpa-archa. Apparently, it was more of a “seniority” tradition at the party than anything else. Her rise to the helm should not have any negative impact on the party of their late father, Banharn, though.
“We are [considered] a turtle,” a senior Chat Thai Pattana member said as the party welcomed its new leader. “But turtles always reach their ultimate destinations.” It was a nice analogy, especially considering the fact that Banharn’s political camp was always compared to an eel for its style of mercurial politics that always enable it to be in a government regardless of who led the administration.
Sunday, October 21, 2018: It can be reported that Suthep Thaugsuban was in “the lion’s den”. Actually, he was in Khon Kaen today, a northeastern political hotbed where many people certainly did not appreciate his presence. About 300 people took part in a forum at a hotel to discuss the party he co-founded, and which he called “Genuinely the people’s party.”
Suthep, who led massive street protests that culminated in the downfall of the Yingluck government in 2014, insisted that the forum was not a political gathering, thereby lawful. “I came to listen to what northeastern people want from politicians, and I’m encouraged to know that a lot of people want true representatives, not MPs who work for anyone in particular,” he said.
Suthep did not say how many seats his Action Coalition for Thailand Party expects to win in the Pheu Thai-dominated region, however.