The Future Forward Party, making an impressive debut in last Sunday’s election – finishing as the third-most popular choice with more than 6.2 million votes and more than 80 Lower House seats – is composed entirely of completely new faces.
These fresh new political voices, partly fueled by the seven million new, young, eligible voters in this year’s poll, provides a catalyst for change in the political divide that has torn Thailand into two polarised camps for nearly two decades.
But, according to the latest figures from the Election Commission, no party won has a landslide victory or achieved a parliamentary majority in its own right.
The ‘Shinawatra’ camp, led by Pheu Thai, which has dominated previous elections, failed to retain that advantage after the Thai Raksa Chart was disbanded a mere two weeks before election day. The party had been set up to focus on the mixed-member appointment system while its sister party Pheu Thai concentrated on constituency seats.
It was a clever political play with the new system, ‘rigged’ by the Junta in the new Charter. But it came undone when Thai Raksa Chart offered HM The King’s elder sister as their prime ministerial candidate, a move that was roundly criticised by the Palace and the Election Commission disbanding the new party as punishment.
Now, with Thai Raksa Chart gone, Pheu Thai has no party-list seats. Meanwhile, though the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat won few constituency seats, it will still benefit from the altered electoral system, which many analysts say was designed to allow the NCPO to perpetuate power.
Of the 51 million eligible voters this time, the majority (38.1 per cent) was between 26 and 45 years old, while 7.3 million (14.3 per cent) were first-time voters aged between 18 and 25.
Many first-time voters told The Nation Weekend they exercised their right to vote in the hope of bringing about change, even though they suspected it was a virtual lost cause in this election.
“This election won’t trigger any changes because it was designed by people who want the status quo to continue,” said a first-time voter, asking to be identified only as Phon.
“But I hope it spurs more conversation about the country’s future, which might lead to whoever is ruling becoming more responsible or even giving us another chance to vote – on a more level playing field.”
Generally, the successful candidates are not really young, with an average age of 52. The party with the oldest candidates – average 55 – is Pheu Thai, followed by Phalang Pracharat (53) and the Democrats (52).
But the rookie Future Forward Party stands to have a relatively younger representation in the House, averaging 45 years old. The Commoners Party, with candidates averaging 43 years old, won no seats in the election.
Future Forward co-founder Taopiphob Limjittrakorn said young voters chose him because they were “bored” with the established elite. The young maker of craft beer entered politics with the hope of breaking up business monopolies and helping reshape the political landscape.
He managed to smash his way through in Bangkok’s Klong San constituency, defeating heavyweight Democrat candidate and former MP Suran Chanpitak.
In the big picture, this election is unlikely to end the chronic polarisation, with both pro- and anti-junta camps, led by Phalang Pracharat and Pheu Thai respectively, compete to claim legitimacy to form a government.
But Future Forward’s creditable third place this election, its first election, puts down a solid foundation for future polls and the future of Thailand with its young voice for change.
SOURCE: The Nation Weekend | The ThaigerKeep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Thanathorn disqualified as Member of Parliament – Thai Constitutional Court
Leader of the Future Forward Party, 41 year old Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit, has been disqualified as a Member of Parliament following the handing down of a guilty verdict by the Thai Constitutional Court today.
The Court’s findings say Thanathorn was still holding shares in a media company when he registered to run in the March 24 national election. Thanathorn presented evidence during hearings into case declaring that he’d divested himself of any company shares before the calling of the election.
Constitutional pundits say the ruling now paves the way for Thanathorn to be charged under Article 151 of the Elections Act which specifies a jail term of up to 10 years and a political ban for 20 years for anyone found guilty of registering to run in MP elections while knowing that he or she is not qualified.
Thanathorn was originally accused by the Election Commission of still holding 675,000 shares in his family-owned V Luck Media Company when he registered to run in the general election in March this year.
During his defence Thanathorn insisted that the company was not a mass media entity in the general sense as it published only an in-flight magazine and a glossy franchised lifestyle magazine. He also presented evidence that he had transferred all the shares in question to his mother prior to registering to run in the election.
Article 98 of the Constitution prohibits proprietors or share-holders of media companies to run in elections out of fear they would have undue political influence, according to Thai PBS World.
The court dismissed Thanathorn’s defence on both points and revoked his status as an elected MP effective as of May 23 when he was suspended from active duty as MP after the Election Commission made the charges.
Hundreds of supporters of Future Forward Party showed disappointment as they listened to the verdict broadcast on close-circuit TV in the lobby of the Constitutional Court under tight security. Representatives from the US Embassy and EU in Bangkok were also seen attending the session as observers.
Despite his absence from the Parliamentary chamber, and his suspension as an MP at the time, Thanathorn narrowly missed being elected as the Thai PM in the first sitting of the new Parliament.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World
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School funding challenge for bilingual curriculum
The secretary-general of the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC), Amnat Wichayanuwat, says plans to introduce a bilingual school curriculum at all grade levels have thrown up an obstacle for meeting funding requirements.
The bilingual curriculum plans were announced by the Education Minister last week in an effort to improve English proficiency among the Thai population. It’s hoped to have the curriculum in place from kindergarten level at more than 2,000 district schools from the beginning of the 2020 academic year.
However, the OBEC secretary-general says one of the conditions under which schools can qualify for Mini English Programme (MEP) funding, is by showing that Ordinary National Educational Test (O-NET) scores have consistently improved for at least three years.
Amnat says it’s simply not possible for schools to meet this requirement.
“This is impossible because these schools haven’t even started with the new lessons. To launch the MEP classrooms efficiently, we will therefore adjust the qualification and submit it to the Provincial Schools Admission Committee for consideration.”
Amnat says OBEC will reinstate provincial English Resource and Instruction Centres to help determine the curriculum. He draws attention to the need to examine English language proficiency in both teachers and students and work on areas that need improvement.
“And there will be an English proficiency assessment using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages standard. This will expand the opportunities for education and create equality among educational institutes.”
Thailand was recently ranked 74 out of 100 on the English language proficiency index, with its ranking continuing to drop for three years in a row.
See earlier story HERE.
SOURCE:nationthailand.comKeep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Palang Pracharat are warned not to renege on Thai ministry promises
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 NationKeep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
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