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Election

“Compassion for the people” Thai Raksa Chart of Princess Ubolratana

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“Compassion for the people” Thai Raksa Chart of Princess Ubolratana | The Thaiger

The sister of Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn is now seen as a leading prime ministerial candidate for a political party loyal to fugitive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra in the March 24 elections.

The Thai Raksa Chart party dropped the political bombshell this morning.

67 year old Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Varnavadi broke a long-standing tradition of Thai royalty staying out of politics by entering the election in an unprecedented move.

But the Princess ceded all her royal titles to marry an American, Peter Jensen in 1972, with whom she had two daughters and a son. Her son, Khun Poom, died when the 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 US.

Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932 but the royal family wields great influence and commands the devotion of millions of Thais.

The Princess is now registered as a candidate for the Thai Raksa Chart party, an off-shoot of the Thaksin-backed Pheu Thai Party which is also contesting the forthcoming election.

The election, despite the smokescreen of ‘national conciliation’ is still seen as a battle between Thaksin’s populists (the Red Shirts) and allies of the royalist-military establishment (the Yellow Shirts).

The move from the Thai Raksa Chart party is broadly speculated to have been engineered by former PM Thaksin in the fugitive’s ongoing interference, in exile, with Thai politics.

The Princess has had links with Thaksin in the past and, although still the sister of the current King of Thailand, will not be protected by any of the lese majeste rules that govern members of the Thai Royal Family.

Still, she has been working along with other Royal Family members since her return to Thailand and has been working with many charities and conducting ‘Royal’ duties without carrying the title of HRH.

Like any other politician, she will likely be open to criticism as the campaign warms up. But her family connections will certainly become an issue when she is discussed and covered by Thai media, and fellow politicians.

The entry of Princess Ubolratana (pronounced ‘Oo-bon-rart-tar-NA’) into the political fray throws the old battles into a new battlefield and political commentators and analysts are going back to the drawing board to figure out how this new dynamic will affect the election.

One of the key losers from the announcement will be the current PM and head of Thailand’s military junta, Prayut Chan-ocha. He announced this morning that he will contest the March elections as a candidate for prime minister.

His announcement went almost unheard as the Thai media scrambled for new and analysis on the other BIG announcement of the day.

Asked to comment on the nomination, Deputy PM Wisanu Kreangarm 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?”

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Election

Palang Pracharat are warned not to renege on Thai ministry promises

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Palang Pracharat are warned not to renege on Thai ministry promises | The Thaiger

Amidst rumours circulating that the Palang Pracharat Party may renege on some of the promises it made to secure MP votes from the Democrats and Bhumjaithai, the Democrat party leader Jurin Laksanavisit says he believes the Palang Pracharat party will keep its promises.

Thepthai Senpong MP, a key Democrat party member, is warning that the coalition government will be in big trouble if the promise is broken. He says the coalition government would “function with great difficulty” if the Palang Pracharat party does not stick to the promises it made to the Democrats, according to Thai PBS.

Meanwhile, Somsak Thepsutin, one of the Sam Mitr faction within Palang Pracharat, says that if one of their group isn’t offered the agriculture minister’s post (reportedly offered to the Democrats as part of the ‘deal’), the promises they made with Thai voters during the election campaign could be affected.

Somsak has already spoken of his aspirations to become the next agriculture minister, despite the portfolio being used as a political football during negotiations with the Democrats.

But the new leader of the Democrats, Jurin Laksanavisit insists that the issue of the quota of ministries for his MPs has already been settled. He re-iterated yesterday that Palang Pracharat would not go back on its promises to the Democrats. He added that he had not been informed of any changes to their arrangements despite being aware of the media reports about the prevarication.

SOURCES: Thai PBS | The Nation

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Election

Palang Pracharat still quibbling over portfolios in the new Thai parliament

The Thaiger

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Palang Pracharat still quibbling over portfolios in the new Thai parliament | The Thaiger

Election – check. Vote for PM – check. New government sworn in – not quite yet.

There is still a reported back-room fight over cabinet portfolios between factions in the Palang Pracharat Party. Several key ministries were offered to Bhumjaithai and Democrat MPs in return for voting for Prayut Chan-o-cha as PM on Wednesday.

Now that Prayut’s been installed back behind the big desk at government house, there have been sources reporting wrangling and possible back-tracking over the promises made preceding the parliamentary vote on Wednesday.

  • The Democrats were promised the agriculture, commerce and social development ministries while the Bhumjaithai were reportedly offered the Transport Ministry post.
  • Palang Pracharat MPs claim that, as the leading party in the coalition, it should control key ministries to follow through on its election promises.
  • PPRP list MP Somsak Thepsuthin, a leading figure of the “Sam Mitr” faction in Palang Pracharat, claims the party needs control of the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry and that PM Prayut will have a final say on the matter (a notion that was flatly denied by the PPRP last week).
  • Palang Pracharat MP Buddhipongse Punnakanta admits the quota of cabinet posts for coalition parties “might” change but didn’t detail any of the Cabinet position affected, including the position of agriculture minister.
  • Newly elected House Speaker Chuan Leekpai, a former Democrat PM, waded into the issue yesterday saying he was sure that Palang Pracharat would honour the promises made in regards to Cabinet posts offered to the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties.
  • Democrat leader Jurin Laksanavisit says the deal with the PPRP was singed and sealed and believes it would be honoured.
  • Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charvirakul says the agreement with the PPRP remains unchanged, and insisted the party will push for its election pledges to be implemented.
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Election

“We were robbed of victory” – Future Forward’s Thanathorn

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“We were robbed of victory” – Future Forward’s Thanathorn | The Thaiger

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the 40 year old Future Forward leader who was up against Prayut Chan-o-cha for the position of PM yesterday, says that the pro-democracy alliance hasn’t conceded defeat but, he says, were “robbed of their victory”.

He is vowing to work harder outside parliament to prove that to the people.

“This election is just one battle in the long journey to achieve democracy. We fiercely believe that, in the end, our day will come. Dictatorship cannot resist the winds of change, the winds of democracy. The people will cry for freedom, cry for justice.”

Thanathorn was nominated by the Pheu Thai-led alliance as their sole PM candidate for yesterday’s vote, admitted that he had little hope that both the Democrat and the Bhumjaithai parties would make the “right decision”. Without their vote the Pheu Thai alliance wouldn’t have a majority in the lower house to make a stand (even though the Senate’s votes – 250 – would have carried Prayut Chan-o-cha over the finish line anyway). As it was he only missed winning the vote in the lower house by a handful of votes.

Thai PBS reports that, despite the election defeat, the firebrand young politician pleaded with all democracy advocates not to lose hope, but to move forward with him.

“I would like to tell my brothers and sisters that this is not our end, it is just the beginning,” he said, adding that the election result was a proof that they did not work hard enough and must strive harder.

“Future Forward party would divide its work and resources into three main areas; its MPs will undertake legislative work and check the performance of the government, the party will prepare for the forthcoming local elections and strengthen the party.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS

“We were robbed of victory” - Future Forward's Thanathorn | News by The Thaiger

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