Sudarat a possible message of defiance
Saturday, October 13, 2018: A few reports today named Sudarat Keyuraphan as one of the Pheu Thai Party’s three candidates for the prime minister post. Crucially, she is reportedly backed up by Thaksin Shinawatra’s ex-wife Pojaman and is in amicable terms with their son Panthongtae and daughter Paetongtarn. However, the reports said that the names of the other two candidates, unknown presently, will totally be indicative of how much more support she will get in Pheu Thai.
Sudarat’s name has come back to the news lately as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s key challenger. The earlier mentioning of her name came months ago but was quickly subdued by criticism that she was too “compromising”, and that her becoming Pheu Thai’s key person would signal a softening of Thaksin’s political stand.
Pheu Thai’s perceived belligerence in the wake of Panthongtae’s indictment in the Krungthai Bank scandal makes Sudarat’s apparent resurgence a potential message of war, not compromise.
Friday, October 12, 2018: Up to 2.5 million people can vote in the Democrat “primary”, a virtual survey on who party members want as the next leader of Thailand’s oldest political camp, the party’s poll officials said.
It was initially believed that only about 80,000 people could vote after reconfirming their party membership earlier this year, but the officials now said up to 2.5 million people are eligible voters.
Party members can vote through an online system or visit polling stations at branch offices nationwide.
This is the first time a political party has involved millions of members in the screening of candidates for party leadership, although what is dubbed as the Democrats’ “primary” will not legally bind the party to the results. Party executives and top figures will still have the final say on who should be the next leader, but the “primary” results will go a long way toward determining who takes the party’s helm before next year’s election.
Thursday, October 11, 2018: Key political figures provided no major development today, but sources within Pheu Thai explained a very interesting strategy to cope with possible dissolution of the party. It was initially thought that if Pheu Thai was dissolved too close to the election, that would be the end of it, as its election candidates could not move to a new party. (The Constitution states that a party’s candidates must have been its members for at least 90 days.)
However, according to the sources, a way out is that if Pheu Thai managed to mobilise enough people to vote no, by-elections could take place at several constituencies. (If the number of “No” votes in a constituency is higher than the votes for the winner in that constituency, a by-election will be held and only new candidates will be allowed.)
If that happened, former Pheu Thai politicians would have enough time to fulfil the 90-day constitutional timeframe and contest by-elections under the banner of a replacement party, or Pheu Tham to be exact.
Other whispers that have the potential to become big news is that Thaksin Shinawatra’s son, Panthongtae, who was indicated in connection with the Krungthai Bank scandal on Wednesday, could play politics and run in the election. The speculation followed Panthongtae’s belligerent Facebook post before the indictment. The post said he would never run and would defy the “dictators” head-on.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018: The noose seems to be tightening around Thaksin Shinawatra’s neck, with his son, Panthongtae, being indicted in connection with the Krungthai Bank scandal. The development is politically significant because it can either galvanise the father ahead of the crucial Thai election or soften the political belligerence of his de facto party, Pheu Thai. Read a detailed analysis and background of the case here: https://www.thaipbsworld.com/panthongtae-shinawatra-bigger-political-pawn-nowadays/
Tuesday, October 9, 2018,: It was a day of verbal wars. Suthep Thaugsuban, who led massive street protests against the Yingluck government and is a key member of the Action Coalition of Thailand Party, warned that any attempt to “tear up” Thailand’s new Constitution would be tantamount to an “unacceptable insult” on nearly 17 million voters who took part in a referendum a couple of years ago. Thaksin Shinawatra’s son, Panthongtae, who is facing money laundering charges related to the Krungthai Bank scandal, took another social media swipe at his accusers, accusing them of conspiring against his family.
Meanwhile, Sondhi Limthongkul’s son, Jittanart, slammed red-shirted leaders for “distorting” his father’s political stand. The young Limthongkul denied that his father was leaning toward “the other side” following an imprisonment sentence. “Please leave him alone,” Jittanart said of his father, a former Thaksin cheerleader who spectacularly turned against the Shinawatra patriarch in mid 2000s. “Things have been hard enough for them.”
News coming out of the red shirted camp had it that Sondhi agreed with its idea to “dissolve all political colours.” That could be arguably interpreted as Sondhi was switching back to Thaksin.
Jittanart said red-shirted leader Jatuporn Prompan had talks with Sondhi while in jail. “He did all the talking while my father only listened. The red-shirted leaders must stop using my father’s name,” Jittanart said.
Monday, October 8, 2018: Was it a good-natured welcoming roar or were Buriram people booing Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan? He thought it was the former but anti-military critics insisted the loud noises were an unmistakable sign of political resentment. The significance of it is that the incident took place right in the middle of the den of former kingmaker Newin Chidchob, believed to be the de facto leader of the Bhum Jai Thai Party.
“If they do hate me, the noises would have come with missiles,” Prawit said. “Of course, they were welcoming me.”
The social media was not on his side, though. “The people might not know they were allowed to throw missiles at him,” one person tweeted. “He stayed put after the wristwatch scandal,” another noted, adding “this is just boos.”
Prawit, it has to be said, is not very popular. His refusal to resign from the Prayut Cabinet following disclosure that he had not declared extremely-expensive wristwatches in his possession. He claimed he borrowed the accessories but few people believed that.