Monday will see a return of the former economic team, including three key ministers under General Prayut, to front-line politics and the ranks of the Palang Pracharat Party including ex-economic czar Somkid Jatusripitak. The news comes as the Royal Gazette also confirmed the King has approved the new electoral act which strengthens Pheu Thai’s chances in the General Election after the previous system favoured smaller parties.
Pheu Thai Party standard bearer Paetongtarn Shinawatra or Ung Ing took a swipe at Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha on Saturday when questioned about reports that former ministers in the government, including one-time economic czar and deputy prime minister Somkid Jatusripitak, are to rejoin the Palang Pracharat Party under General Prawit Wongsuwan. The presumptive prime ministerial candidate told reporters that General Prawit was a more charismatic and better-loved leader than General Prayut.
On Saturday, the likely Pheu Thai Party candidate for prime minister in May’s General Election, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, dismissed any threat from a newly reconstituted Palang Pracharat Party which is poised to welcome back its economic A team which was part of the government before being ousted in a political heave in July 2020.
At the same time, in an artful swipe at the current prime minister who has parted ways with the Palang Pracharat Party and finally entered the political arena with the new Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party (RTSC), Ms Paetongtarn credited General Prawit Wongsuwan, the leader of the Palang Pracharat Party with having more charisma than the current government leader.
Ung Ing’s frank and personal assessment of the ‘brothers in arms’ as General Prayut finds himself in the political arena leading a conservative party
‘Those joining the ruling party are not newcomers, rather, they are former Palang Pracharat associates. But bringing in specific political groups shows that General Prawit has more charisma and is more well-liked than General Prayut,’ she told reporters in a frank assessment.
It follows the commitment by General Prayut, in recent weeks, to politics by joining the newly launched Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party (RTSC) after parting ways with his erstwhile ‘brother in arms’ and former commanding officer in the Royal Thai Army, General Prawit.
Political scientists and observers have begun to point out that the new Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party (RTSC) led by Pirapan Salirathavibhaga who is also a key adviser to the PM at the Prime Minister’s Office is, in fact, a political party manifestation of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), the political movement that led street protests in Bangkok in 2013 and 2014 causing the elected government of Ms Paetongtarn’s aunt Yingluck Shinawatra to be deposed on May 22nd that year by a coup.
In February 2021, three ministers in the government of General Prayut Chan ocha were jailed by the Criminal Court for their actions during those months of street protest activity which paralysed the Thai capital Bangkok.
Comments will strengthen political rumours that a deal between Palang Pracharat Party and Pheu Thai Party after the General Election cannot be ruled out
The comments on Saturday by Ms Paetongtarn will reinforce political rumours that there may, in the final analysis after the General Election, be room for rapprochement or some kind of working relationship between the Palang Pracharat and Pheu Thai Parties even though Ms Paetongtarn has made clear her party’s disdain for those who are not fully committed to democratic principles and her determination to follow the will of the people.
Ms Paetongtarn has been leading a committee and movement within the Pheu Thai Party to strengthen the membership base and help it innovate new policies.
She is widely tipped to be the main prime ministerial candidate in the General Election while she also currently tops the latest National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) opinion poll for the position, published in December 2022 with 34% support.
The Pheu Thai Party figure, who is emerging as its central personality after the party put forward a groundbreaking and politically popular economic policy platform in December, was speaking after a rally in Loei province in upper northeastern Thailand before taking to the stage to another feverish gathering in Nong Khai.
Somkid Jatusripitak, the economic guru, returns to front-line politics as the key economic czar for the Palang Pracharat Party under General Prawit
It is now all but confirmed that Mr Somkid Jatusripitak, the former deputy prime minister and economic czar in General Prayut’s governments together with Uttama Savanayana, the former Minister of Finance and Mr Sontirat Sontijirawong, the former Minister of Energy, are to rejoin the Palang Pracharat Party.
All three former ministers played key roles in the junta government between 2015 and 2019 and are thought to be capable administrators who will help Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and the Palang Pracharat Party forge a more credible party lineup and economic policies running into the election.
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Economic Czar took up his role as economics guru in the government of Prayut Chan ocha in 2015 and held the role until July 2020.
General Prawit, the canny deputy PM, will unveil the new economic team on Monday next at party headquarters in Bangkok.
Paetongtarn focused on campaigning and selling Pheu Thai’s message and new economic policies to the public. Calling on voters to deliver a landslide
On Saturday, Ms Paetongtarn Shinawatra was clear that her party was focused on achieving a landslide, a message she has been repeating to the party’s popular base in northeastern Thailand this week while urging voters to come out in force and vote strategically to give the Pheu Thai Party a groundswell of support and votes cast.
Over the coming months, Ms Paetongtarn said that she would be focused on the eventual dissolution of the House of Representatives and following up by announcing more details of the party’s policy platforms.
In the meantime, General Prawit’s latest move, a minor political coup, will help focus attention on the ruling party whose fortunes have been languishing.
Whip hand with Pheu Thai to secure power in this year’s General Election despite Senate’s waning power
The strategic aim of General Prawit is for the Palang Pracharat Party to win enough seats in the General Election to leave him in a position as kingmaker between the Pheu Thai Party and more conservative forces in Thai politics with his old army and cabinet colleague, 68-year-old General Prayut, as the standard bearer.
General Prawit manoeuvres himself politically into a kingmaker position after the next General Election
There are reports that the former army chief and brother-in-arms of the current prime minister who has been involved in the leadership of the country since the 2014 coup, has already secured the support of at least 100 of the senators in the upper house who will have, for the last time perhaps, before 2024, a say in the election of a prime minister.
A challenge for General Prayut, the prime minister since 2014, may come when the leadership of the Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party (RTSCP) realise that for that party to grow and gain traction as the date of the election approaches, it will have to set out to galvanise its conservative and traditional base which will inevitably increase polarization.
The alternative is that the Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party (RTSC) fizzles as General Prayut’s support declines due to the unpopularity of his government particularly as it appears to be plagued with corruption scandals.
Currently, the Palang Pracharat Party under General Prawit is seen as a potential bridge builder between both sides of the political divide.
Pheu Thai leader still insists the progressive Move Forward Party is its democratic ally in politics
On Saturday, Ms Paetongtarn expressed the view that, ultimately, it was the public through the ballot box that will decide all these matters.
She underlined her party’s close relationship with the Move Forward Party, the more progressive opposition group which appears poised to do well in urban centres and particularly in Bangkok.
She emphasised that she saw the Move Forward Party which consistently scores highly in respected opinion polls, as a party committed to democratic principles, a key value also for Pheu Thai.
She also alluded to splinter groups and other smaller parties rejoining the Pheu Thai Party fold as she vowed to carry on campaigning.
‘I personally don’t care if the two men eventually join hands or not,’ she declared. ‘I will carry out my responsibilities as best as I can because organising election campaigns to raise public awareness is a difficult and uphill task that requires everyone’s assistance. I have not given attention to anything else. I believe it is too soon to discuss the possibility of other political groups returning to Pheu Thai. I will now continue my election campaigning to ensure that Pheu Thai wins by a wide margin.’
New voting and election law approved by the King
On Saturday, the way was cleared for the General Election and the new voting system which will greatly favour the Pheu Thai Party in its quest for a stronger mandate in the next parliament allowing it to form a government.
His Majesty the King approved the new organic law or election act which will form the basis for the General Election.
It was published in the Royal Gazette.
This will see a two-ballot system with 100 party list seats and 400 constituency seats with the calculations for party lists seats linked to the overall national vote tally divided by the number of seats, a controversial decision which is fairer and favours the Pheu Thai Party while the previous system was aimed at ensuring more smaller parties in the National Assembly.