Democrat Party plan to transform Hat Yai into major economic hub

Suchatvee Suwansawat and Watanya Bunnag, members of the Democrat Party, in Hat Yai, Songkhla. Picture courtesy of Assawin Pakkawan.

The Democrat Party in Thailand recently revealed its intentions to rejuvenate its previous plan to turn the commercial district of Hat Yai, located in Songkhla province, into a significant economic centre. This attempt aims to attract more investors to the area.

Democrat Party officials mentioned that they are considering the enactment of a special law that would promote the growth of Hat Yai, potentially transforming it into an economic powerhouse comparable to Singapore and Hong Kong. Nipon Boonyamanee, the deputy leader and election director of the Democrat Party, assured that the party would see through the implementation of this plan upon returning to the government.

One of the main concerns that the party is focusing on is the generation of revenue. The party, which currently oversees the Commerce Ministry, is set on negotiating deals through economic cooperation by linking up with major free trade areas (FTAs). As part of their goals, they plan to engage with 27 to 30 countries via FTAs to hasten exports and create new sources of income for Thailand, reported Bangkok Post.

Boonyamanee further explained that an increase in exports would lead to a higher tax collection from exporters. This would, in turn, result in additional revenue that could be reinvested back into the Thai economic system.

Additionally, the Democrat Party has reminded the public of its previous campaign pledges. These include a proposal to allocate a 2 million baht cash injection for every village and community throughout the nation.

However, Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, the deputy leader of the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), has criticised the “orange” political movement. In what appears to be an indirect attack on the Move Forward Party (MFP); he highlights how political disagreements have become increasingly evident, particularly as the May 14 election approaches.

Referring to the colour-coded conflict between supporters of different political parties, he said…

“The newcomer orange shirts are even worse than the red and yellow shirts.”

The “orange shirts” are focused on making major changes to the root causes of the nation’s issues. However, Thanakamanusorn believes that they misunderstand the real sources of the nation’s problems.

He added…

“In my view, the sources of problems are corrupt politicians who fight for vested interests. The problems have nothing to do with the nation, religions, or the monarchy [the pillar institutions].”

Anutin Charnvirakul, leader of the Bhumjajthai Party, also shared his opinion on the matter, arguing that dissolving a political party over election-related activities benefits no one. Anutin said…

“Our party doesn’t support a dissolution of any party.”

He believes that violations of electoral law are typically committed by individual members of a political party, not the entire party, and that punishing a whole party for the actions of specific members seems an unfair approach.

Responding to recent claims that at least four major parties may face the likelihood of dissolution, Charnvirakul stated that this is merely one perspective. Chumsai Sriyapai, deputy secretary-general of the Pheu Thai Party, similarly criticised activist Srisuwan Janya for petitioning the Election Commission (EC) to probe the party regarding a 10,000-baht digital wallet handout scheme. He seemed concerned about an EC ruling that could potentially lead to the dissolution of some parties.

Lastly, the EC issued a timely reminder to employers, stating that they could face a jail term if they obstruct or refuse to allow their employees to vote during the advanced voting day or Election Day. Employers who are found guilty of such infringement may face up to two years in prison, a maximum penalty of 40,000 baht, or both. This legal condition is applicable for advance voting on May 7 and Election Day on May 14.

In other news, EC chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong announced that the mix-up in campaign numbers for Pheu Thai Party and Thailand’s Future Party candidates on documents distributed to Thai voters in the UK had been rectified. The error was believed to have occurred during document preparation by the EC’s Bangkok office before being sent out to the Thai embassy in the UK for distribution.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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