“She has compassion for the people” says Thai Raksa Chart of Princess Ubolratana
Thai Raksa Chart Party, which is known to have support of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, dropped a political bombshell today when it formally nominated Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana, a member of the Royal Family, as its sole candidate for the post of prime minister in the upcoming March-24 general election.
The move, which many believe was engineered by the self-exiled former prime minister, triggered a wide but largely cautious debate in social media. While many offered their support for the princess, others raised questions about the country’s political direction.
The nomination of Princess Ubolratana by the newly-formed political party effectively overshadows the decision by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to accept the invitation to become the pro-military Palang Pracharat Party’s nomination as its sole prime ministerial candidate.
“She has devoted herself to working for the society all along…She has the compassion and is willing to make sacrifices for the people,” said Thak Raksa Chart party leader Preechapol Pongpanich after formally submitting her candidacy with the Election Commission this morning.
Preechapol also showed the media an official consent form attached with her photo signed by the princess.
The party later issued a statement saying it felt honored that the princess has agreed to accept the party’s nomination. It said that the princess wished Thai people to live a better life, to bring about prosperity and reconciliation.
Asked to comment on the nomination, Deputy Prime Minister Wisanu Krea-ngarm only said: “If I can comment, I will say so. But I cannot comment.”
Asked if he was surprised, he shot back asking “Were you surprised?”
Princess Ubolratana, 67, is the eldest daughter of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. She was born in Switzerland on April 5, 1951.
The princess graduated with a BA in bio-chemistry and mathematics from Massachusettes Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in statistics and public health from University of California, Los Angeles.
In 1972, she ceded all her royal titles to marry an American, Peter Jensen, with whom she had two daughters and a son, Khun Poom, who died when tsunami hit Phang-nga province on December 26, 2004. She later divorced and returned to Thailand for permanent residence in 2001 after spending about 26 years in the United States.
Thai Raksa Chart party is widely seen as an offshoot of the former ruling Pheu Thai party. Several of its founding members are former members of the later.
In a statement issued this morning, Prime Minister Prayut admitted that it was not an easy decision for him to accept the Palang Pracharat’s invitation after having served in military service for most of his career life.
He insisted that he has no intention of clinging to powers, but only wants to dedicate himself to the country and the people and to bring about development and prosperity for the country.
Thanking Palang Pracharat party for inviting him to be its prime ministerial candidate, he said he had studied the party’s policies at length and found them to be compatible with his government’s.
Today is the last day for the registration of candidates for the general election and for the submission of prime minister nominations.