Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The man who tore up the ballot makes new predictions

Well-known political scientist Chaiyan Chaiyaporn of Chulalongkorn University, whose claim to fame was to tear up an election ballot in 2006, has predicted that Pheu Thai Party will emerge as the No 1 party after the July 3 election.

"But Pheu Thai won't get more than 250 seats," he said.

Chaiyan told Krungthep Turakij that Palang Prachachon (Pheu Thai's predecessor) won more than half of the House seats in 2007 because the Newin's faction was still part of the party.

Newin Chidchob's Bhumjaithai commands about 30-40 seats in the House and that faction makes the difference on whether Pheu Thai could win a simple majority in this election or not.

Chaiyan says the Democrat Party won't get more than half the 500 seats in the House either. "In the last election, when the Democrats were enjoying a great advantage, they couldn't manage to win a simple majority. This time, with the erosion of the support of the People's Alliance for Democracy, things are going to be tougher for the Democrats," he said.

The political scientist believes that if neither Pheau Thai nor the Democrats could win more than 250 seats in this election, chances of a Democrat-led coalition appear higher.

Thaksin Shinawatra, in his series of interviews with foreign reporters in the past week, insists that Pheu Thai will win a clear majority and will form the next government.

"If we win and are prevented from forming the next government, there will be widespread protests," Thaksin says.

Nobody knows how the election will really turn out. So, keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, May 30, 2011

In politics, nothing is 'unthinkable.'

Who says it's unthinkable that Gen Sonthi Bunyaratakalin, leader of the Sept 19, 2006 coup that toppled Thaksin Shinawatra, can join the ex-prime minister in a new political line-up?

Sonthi, who is now leader of Matupoom Party,was asked on Radio Chula this morning whether his party could join Thaksin's Pheu Thai to form the next government after the election.

His answer: "If you want to catch a baby tiger, you must enter the tiger's lair."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Newin, Banharn: A pact made to be broken

Newin Chidchob's Bhumjaithai Party and Banharn Silpa-archa's Chat Thai Pattana Party are expected to be the No 3 and No 4 parties in this upcoming election.

They also have signed a pact of alliance,meaning that they would join or decline to join any coalition together.

But they might soon find that political agreement somewhat uncomfortable. Thaksin Shinawatr of Pheu Thai Party has let it be known that if his party emerges No 1 in the election, he would form a coalition perhaps with Banharn's party or Suwat Limpatapanlob's Pheau Paendin party -- and definitely not with Newin's grouping.

What would Banharn and Newin do if that should come to pass?

Nobody doubts for a moment that political pacts are made to be broken anyway. But with Newin suggesting the other day that Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Democrat Party may call it quits from the party is the Democrats lose badly, Newin will find himself isolated from both left and right.

Abhisit said: "Newin will be proven wrong. We will definitely win more than 160 seats. Newin should go back to running his football team (instead of making election predictions).

Newin has once again made himself the wild card of Thai politics!He claims his party should win some 70 seats while some Pheu Thai's leaders say according to their polls, Newin would be lucky to have 15 MPs under his wings after July 3.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Who's the real clone?

The Manager Daily's cartoon today has Thaksin declaring that his sister Yingluck is "my clone."

But his daughter, Ung Ing, who looks much more like him, is made to protest: "What about me, Dad?"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thinking the unthinkable (1)

Some political pundits have suggested some "never-say-never" scenarios including one that may put Thaksin Shinawatra's Pheu Thai Party with Gen Sonthi Bunyaratakalin in a coalition government after the election.

That would be one of the greatest paradoxes in Thai politics, of course. Sonthi led the Sept 19, 2006 coup that toppled Thaksin. But Thaksin, now in exile, has been saying that he is ready to compromise with all parties concerned. In fact, he has said that even if his party wins an absolute majority, he would still be asking a few small parties to join in a coalition "because the last time we won 377 seats, we decided to form a single-party government and that got many people jealous. We don't want to repeat that..."

Gen Sonthi, now leader of Matipooom Party,is contest vigorously in the election. He has also been talking about national reconciliation.

So, should Thaksin and Sonthi decide to really forget the past, their coming together in a coalition would indeed a something to contemplate.

Even if that may raise a few eye-brows.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

She hasn't totally ruled out a debate with Abhisit...

All the public statements from Pheu Thai Party may point to the party's refusal to put Yingluck Shinawatra in a one-on-one debate with Abhisit Vejjajiva. But if you read between the lines of Yingluck's own words in the past 24 hours, you would get the sense that she has not totally ruled out that possibility.

"I will see how it goes. There is plenty of time to debate in parliament. Let me consider it as the election draws near," the Pheu Thai's Party List's No 1 has said something along this line a few time now.

So, don't be taken aback if Yingluck, having built up sufficient confidence after launching into some hectic campaign activities, may decide in the next few weeks to debate Abhisit after all.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

On the scale of 1 to 10....

Both major parties were well prepared this morning, the first day to apply for party list candidates. The Pheau Thai Party got No 1 from lots-drawing. The Democrats drew No 10.

Within minutes, posters bearing their respective numbers (which will be identical for both consituency balloting and party list votes) were being raised around the Thai-Japan Youth Center compound where the parties officially registered for the July 3 election.

"We are No 1. That's a great sign. It means, we will mean, for sure," declared Plodprasob Suraswadi, one of the deputy leaders of Pheau Thai.

Korbsak Sabhavasu, the Democrat party's campaign manager, was quick to tweet: "We got No 10. That means on the scale of 1 to 10, PM Abhisit gets full marks of 10!"

It' going to be a 1-10 electoral battle. That seems certain.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thaksin: She is my clone

This picture was taken by one of Thaksin Shinawatra's daughters who posted it in her Twitter account just after Songkran in April.

Looking back, Thaksin must have decided to name his sister Yingluck to be the No 1 on Pheau Thai's party list then. But he was weighing the pros and cons before deciding to declare that Yingluck was his best nominee for the task of competing with the Democrats in the upcoming election.

"Why did I pick her? She is my clone," Thaksin told editors from Post Today during an interview late last week in Brunei.

There is little doubt that Thaksin is aware of the risks of using his "trump card" in his battle for an electoral victory that would pave the way for his return.

Both Thaksin and Yingluck are careful on this score. Asked about the possibility of a Pheau Thai-led govt issuing an amnesty to allow Thaksin to come home without serving a jail term, they have both said in public: "We won't do anything just for one particular person."

You just have to read between the lines to know what that really means.

Monday, May 16, 2011


It's her Big Day. Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's younger sister, was today officially named leader of Pheau Thai Party in the battle for premiership after the July 3 General Election.

She will be the No 1 on the Pheau Thai's party list, paving the way for the possibility of Thailand's having the first female prime minister, if Thaksin accomplishes his plan to win the polls and install his party to be the next government. Under his ambitious plan, the new Pheau Thai-led government with his sister at the head will make enough amendments to the law to enable him to return to Thailand, probably towards the end of the year.

Yingluck, in her first major political speech, thanked the party's executive committee for choosing her as the team leader. Thaksin will make no secret of the fact that he was the one who handpicked Yingluck to that post -- and the party's deliberations on the issue were simply a formality.

Yingluck said she was ready to lead the party into this major election. "The coup has taught me many political lessons," she declared.

She said it would be too early to discuss Thaksin's future.

"I hope you will offer me the kind of trust and confidence you gave to my brother, Thaksin," she declared.

Abhisit was quick to welcome Yingluck to the political arena, insisting that he is ready to debate her anytime, anywhere.

Yingluck has not commented on the Democrat Party's challenge for live debate.

Abhisit, on the other hand, said: "It doesn't matter whether it's a man or a woman. The new prime minister has to serve the people all the same."

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Abhisit says his main opponent is Yingluck...but is she?

He might have jumped the gun but Abhisit Vejjajiva seemed determined to pit himself against Yingluck Shinawatra in the next election. The real battle, of course, is between him and Thaksin.

During the briefing session with the Democrat Party's candidates yesterday, the Democrat leader did not hesitate to compare himself to Yingluck, assuming that he could beat her in all areas despite the fact that it still wasn't confirmed whether she will really be the No 1 on the Pheau Thai's party list, which is due to be unveiled tomorrow.

The Democrats apparently are ready to do battle with Yingluck, hoping to convince voters to choose between Abhisit's political experience and Yingluck's image of a novice in politics. "It's a choice between continuity and uncertainty," Abhisit told his party members. That appears to be the theme of the Democrat Party's campaign.

Thaksin, of course, has gone all out fo instruct his Pheau Thai Party candidates to get out and tell voters that their livelihood will improve in six months if they vote Pheau Thai in in a big way.

It would be interesting to hear from Thaksin how he is portraying his sister as his latest nominee.

Yingluck could turn out to be Thaksin's trump card -- or his swan song, depending on how she performs in this crucial campaign.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Yes, let's Vote "No" -- No, let's vote "Yes"

The Manager Weekly put this "Don't Let Animals into the House" slogan on the cover today as part of the PAD's "Vote No" campaign.

The billboard carrying a similar message erected earlier in the city has been ordered taken down by police for propagating "improper language."

A PAD spokesman has argued that the slogan didn't name names and that so far, no politicians have said they are offended by the wording.

Would this stir you into marking the "None of the above" slot on the ballot in Election Day?

In fact, some red-shirt activists have proposed a "Vote Yes" campaign as a counter move.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Election Date: Rumours flew from Bangkok to Jakarta and back!

Of course, we knew it was to be July 3. But then, Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva was reluctant to pin down a date for Election Day before he flew to Jakarta for the Asean Summit Friday evening. For some reason, he told a Reuters reporter there that it was to be July 3. So, Thai reporters had to quote Reuters on this very simple story.

And we haven't seen the official announcement of House dissolution so far! Never mind. Things will fall into place once the date is fixed.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The army chief, Pheau Thai and democracy

Army Chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha says if Pheau Thai Party wins the election and forms the next government, that's fine with him.

"If that's what is going happen, it would have to happen. What right or power do I have to stop that from happening," he said, in an apparent response to a reporter's question.

The question, of course, was based on rumours that the top brass might find it not very comfortable to live with a Pheau Thai-installed government. Some political pundits have suggested that the generals would prefer to see a governnment that resembles the current coalition. But then, that's nothing more than speculation.

"It all depends on whether the majority of the Thai people can accept that or not. If they do, we (the army) would also accept it because that's part of democracy. How can I say I can't accept something the majority of the people want?" the army commander-in-chief says.

You may want want to read between the lines to really understand the thinking of the army's chief.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

30+ hours...Countdown to House dissolution

Despite speculation to the contrary, Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva insisted today that the House will be dissolved in accordance with his earlier pledges: Within the first week of this month.

That means he is due to submit the draft of the law to dissolve parliament to call a new election to His Majesty the King tomorrow. The PM is due to fly to Jakarta to take part in the Asean Summit May 7-8. The time frame is therefore more or less fixed: The House will most probably be dissolved tomorrow or over the weekend. Election date is tentatively scheduled for either June 26 or July 4 (both falling on Sunday).

Are you ready?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Who is 'Y' who will head Pheau Thai's Party List?

Thaksin Shinnawatra says Pheau Thai Party will win 260 out of 500 seats in the House in the upcoming election. He will be ready to do "phone-in" campaign speeches for candidates in the party.

"Don't worry. I have consulted our lawyers. I won't be breaking the election law. I will say things that I can legally say," he told Pheau Thai MPs in a meeting yesterday through Skype.

Mingkwan Saengsuwan was there in the meeting room. But Thaksin made no reference to him. Nor did Mingkwan make any statement.

Payab Shinnawatra, Thaksin's brother, who was in the meeting as well, as a person
whose name begins with "Y" will be the chief candidate on the party list to be named premier after the election.

Who's "Y?" Payab said: "It's got to be someone in the family."

Thaksin's younger sister Yingluck has been cited as the most likely choice to head the new Pheau Thai-led government, if Thaksin's predictions so far prove to be true, that is.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Abhisit's last TV show: My wife doesn't want me in politics

Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva went on television for his last weekly "Have Confidence in Thailand" programme today with a large number of TV anchors who had interviewed him in the past two years. A total of 190 anchors have taken part in the programme.

He insisted that the party that wins the highest number of seats in the House should be given the first chance to form the next government. "If that fails, the second largest party would have the right to do so," he said.

Abhisit says he doesn't agree with the "Vote No" campaign although it's constitutionally legitimate. "A No vote would be a waste. At least, voters should cast ballots to choose the representatives who can improve things in the country," he said.

How does his wife think about his political role? The PM says: "If you really ask her, she would prefer that I don't get involved in politics. But she also says that since I am here,I must do my best. I am not sure whether she would cast her ballot for me."

He added: "One thing I can assure you is that I don't bring my problems in the office back to my family."

Chalerm and Newin: Poles apart

If you believe Chalerm Yoobamrung, Pheau Thai Party will definitely form the next government after the election.

But on the other hand, if you think Newin Chidchob is more credible, you would bet on Pheau Thai being in the opposition once again.

There is no middle ground for these two colourful politicians. Both want to be on the winning side but whatever their predictions, you have to take with a heavy dose of salt.

But then, neither of them has claimed to be objective in politics in the first place.