The government’s top legal expert, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, has dismissed the significance of the video conversation as mere political discourse despite efforts by the Chairman of the House of Representatives Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee, MP Sira Jenjaka, to have the matter brought before the Election Commission for review.
A senior member of the Pheu Thai Party informally suggested nominating the former wife of Thaksin Shinawatra, Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra, as the party’s lead candidate for Prime Minister in a video conversation with the ex-premier which has emerged in public in recent days sparking a call from Palang Pracharat Party MP, Sira Jenjaka, to have the matter reviewed by the country’s Election Commission with a view to having Thailand’s largest party and the main opposition grouping, dissolved by the Constitutional Court.
The Pheu Thai Party has denied speculative reports that it was considering the wife of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to be its main candidate for prime minister in the next General Election.
The report comes as a video has emerged of an exchange between the former premier, in exile in Dubai, and senior party members at the home of the former Minister of Energy in the government of Yingluck Shinawatra, Pongsak Rattapongpaisarn, in the course of birthday party celebrations.
Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra proposed as a candidate for the top job in an informal video conversation with the ex-premier at a birthday party
In the exchange, it is reported that deputy party leader, Kriang Kultinant, proposed the former wife of Mr Thaksin, Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra, as a possible choice as the party’s candidate for the top job.
Mr Thaksin divorced his wife in 2008 after thirty-two years of marriage.
However, the ex-premier is reported to have demurred, on the basis that his ex-wife was not very enthusiastic about politics and at 65 years of age, would perhaps be too old.
Pheu Thai Party is the third party formed as a vehicle to promote the populist, nationalist and reformist policies of Thaksin Shinawatra since 1998
The Pheu Thai Party is seen by many observers as the reincarnation of the Thai Rak Thai Party, formed by Mr Thaksin in 1998, and dissolved by a Constitutional Tribunal in 2007 for violating election laws.
Its successor, the People’s Power Party, also enjoyed electoral success before it was dissolved by the Constitutional Court in December 2008.
The party’s policies were based on populist principles with a winning streak of nationalism and reforming zeal which has continued within the Pheu Thai Party and to some extent, been imitated by both the Palang Pracharat Party and the Bhumjaithai Party, currently key members of the coalition government.
Firebrand anti- corruption MP is to pursue the video with the Election Commission to have the opposition party disbanded by the Constitutional Court
The revelation of the video has drawn the attention of firebrand Palang Pracharat Party MP, Sira Jenjaka, from Bangkok, who is the Chairman of the Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee in the House of Representatives.
The MP is known as a fierce anti-corruption campaigner who has made a name for himself in exposing the shortcomings in the prosecution of Red Bull heir, Vorayuth Yoovidhya, an ongoing controversy that is still being pursued.
Mr Sira is reported to be considering referring the video clip to the Election Commission based on a possible breach of Section 92 of the 2017 Constitutional Act on Political Parties which sets the parameters on how all political parties in Thailand should be regulated.
2017 Political Parties law forbids external influence over a political party by a ‘dominating’ person or entity who is not a member, officer or stakeholder
Section 92 prohibits any external person who is not a member of the party from what is termed ‘domination’ or exerting undue influence on the party’s direction or affairs.
‘If found guilty, the party will be dissolved and executives stripped of the right to run in the election for 10 years,’ warned the MP on Tuesday after he disclosed that he was placing the video and his complaint before the body charged with regulating the conduct of political parties, for consideration.
It can, in turn, refer the matter to the Constitutional Court which can make a determination on the issue.
The relationship between Mr Thaksin and the Pheu Thai Party has long drawn the attention of political opposition.
Pheu Thai leaders are reported to be holding a surprise PM candidate close to their chest
In the last week, the Pheu Thai Party has made it known that it is considering a surprise candidate for prime minister which it will only put before the electorate at the appropriate time.
It is widely believed that Thailand may see a General Election called in 2022 if the country enters into recovery mode from the pandemic crisis over the coming three to six months.
Video clip, in itself, is not enough evidence says Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam – only evidence of normal political discourse
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who is the government’s legal expert, does not agree that the video clip referred to by Mr Sira, per se, is enough evidence to demonstrate that Mr Thaksin holds undue sway over the Pheu Thai Party based on past court decisions and precedent.
While the former premier is not an official member nor has he any official relationship to Thailand’s largest political party, it does acknowledge him as a key figure representing what it stands for.
The deputy prime minister said that the video clip represents only evidence of open political discourse and that anyone bringing a successful case before the courts would need to show that the party has followed the former prime minister’s instructions and orders.
That, explained Mr Wissanu, would demonstrate ‘party domination’.
Thaksin’s profile has been elevated in the last 12 months since he began appearing on the Clubhouse chat application as Mr Tony Woodsome
The former premier, who is now 72 years old, has become very prominent again in Thai politics despite announcing his resignation from the arena some years ago.
He appears frequently on the popular and influential Clubhouse app and is often hosted by a support group called Care as Mr Tony Woodsome, a pseudonym borrowed from his days as a student.
In recent times, Thaksin has spoken openly of returning to Thailand ‘through the front door’ and has given repeated assurances on such a course.
Called on PM to open dialogue with protesters
In September, Thaksin warned that it is incumbent on Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha to meet and open dialogue with protesting young people on the streets of Bangkok who have been involved in repeated violent clashes with riot control officers of the Metropolitan Police Bureau in the Din Daeng area of the city.
Policeman gunned down in Din Daeng as Chief voices increased concern about organised street violence
He said such a move would be important even if General Prayut was limited to explaining to them what he could and could not do in his role as government leader.
The street protesters are calling for the PM’s resignation, democratic reforms and constitutional change.
Thaksin, a former senior member of the Royal Thai Police, fears the ongoing violence in Bangkok is undermining the reputation of the force
Thaksin warned that the constant clashes, which have frequently become violent, are undermining the reputation of the Royal Thai Police as it has been forced to hit back with severe riot control measures including the use of rubber bullets and heavy-duty water cannon.
The former premier was a member of the Royal Thai Police from 1973 until 1987 when he resigned as a Police Lieutenant Colonel before going on to a meteoric career in business and later moving into politics.
He is the first democratically elected Thai Prime Minister to complete a full term in office before going on to win a landslide in the 2005 General Election with his Thai Rak Thai Party.
Thaksin’s period in power is seen differently by two sides of a still very much divided kingdom
Thaksin still overshadows politics in Thailand and remains a deeply divisive figure.
To his detractors, his time in office was a period when the prime minister usurped all power to himself in a highly centralised and presidential sort of regime while his admirers saw his period in office as the apogee of constitutional politics, democracy and stability in Thailand.
It came about after the former premier implemented a dynamic programme of reorganisation across nearly all government departments and areas of policy in his time in power from 2001.
The shakeup and economic momentum it generated, won him and his party overwhelming support in northern and northeastern Thailand but equally made him enemies among the establishment and those who represented the status quo.
He was removed from office in September 2006 by an army coup led by General Sonthi Boonyaratglin after he and his government had become embroiled in a series of controversies that galvanised street protests which were followed by an annulled election that year which was boycotted by opposition parties.