11 July 2024

Populist polices in one form or another seem to be dominating the debate for the upcoming general election. And a welfare state appears to be most common catchword.

Representatives of five political parties taking part in an election debate organized by Thai PBS on Wednesday night offered their own versions of welfare state, hoping they would strike a right chord with voters.

Though they do not totally reject the much-publicized welfare card scheme of the current government to give the poor access to basic necessities, they want it to be revamped to make it more universal and more effective.

Attawit Suwanpakdee from the Democrat Party said that the welfare card scheme concentrates too much on the process of issuance of cards instead of on the people. More importantly, he said the scheme is limited only to merchandize sold at the government-supported “Blue Flag outlets” which he claimed benefit major business conglomerates taking part in it.

He said if the Democrat runs the next government, it would deposit cash directly into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries who can use the money to buy what they need at any outlets.

Chumaporn Taengkiang from Saman Chon party proposed to make the scheme more universal by covering all levels of people.  She suggested replacing the word “the poor” in the Constitution with “all citizens” to create a perception of social equality.

Palinee Ngarmpring, a representative from Mahachon party, pointed out that the policy initiated by the current government cannot be called welfare, but rather a populist policy. The Mahachon party will propose a policy to improve human capital and life-long learning, she said.

Udomsak Srisuttiwa from Chartthaipattana party said that they will not ditch the welfare card scheme of the current government. Udomsak said with better management and an improved economy, the people’s livelihood should become better.

Anusaree Thapsuwan of Ruam Palang Prachachart Thai party also agreed that the scheme should not be abolished, but the data of the card-holders including supportive programs for the poor should be used for better scheme management.