Friday, March 29, 2013

Somchai's sympathy for with his wife

If you really understand Khun Yaowapa Wongsasdi, as her husband Somchai does, then you would have to be very sympathetic with her.
Somchai, a former prime minister, says: "Her brother was prime minister. Her sister is now prime minister and her husband was also prime minister. She looks good and outstanding. Therefore, whatever her move, Khun Yaowapa becomes news...."
Yaowapa is running in a by-election in Chiang Mai after one of her close aides vacates the seat so that she could run to become an MP.
Is she the "stand-in PM" as has been speculated in the political circles. She has said nothing officially. But her sister, PM Yingluck, says she is still the PM and she wants to complete her four-year term. Her brother, former Premier Thaksin, has said that Yaowapa won't be a "replacement PM" but once she is back as MP, she will be supervising Pheu Thai MPs in the House.
You can't really help it if people around you are either former Premier or the current prime minister.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The PM's "woman's touch."

Premier Yingluck in one of her more interesting poses yesterday. She could offer the "women's touch" while fielding serious political questions at the same time.
Asked by reporters about rumours that her sister, Yaowapa, was being groomed to be a "stand-in prime minister" in case she had to let go out of seat at Government House, Yingluck's plea was prompt and gentle:
"You don't want me working anymore?"
She insists she is in charge. She says she isn't under her brother's shadow. She appeals for a chance to complete her four-year term. Who knows, she might make it!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Stand-in PM? Who's that?

Thaksin Shinawatra said (yes, through Skype again to Pheu Thai MPs) there was no such thing as a "stand-in prime minister." Yes, her other sister, Yaowapa, is running in Chiang Mai's by-election but that's because she will be active in Parliament to help Pheu Thai Party's MPs get into line. She isn't being groomed as the next premier if a political accident materializes that could force his other sister, Premier Yingluck, out of office.
Yingluck herself told reporters that she wanted to complete her four-year term and that she wanted to work for the people. Regarding the Counter-Corruption Commission's investigation into her loans amoungint to Bt30 million to her husband Anusorn Amornchat's company, Ad Index, the PM said she had submitted all relevent information and was confident that she hadn't done anything wrong.
Thaksin's son, Panthongtae, however, wrote in his Facebook that Pheu Thai Party could come under pressure from various sources of ill intention. Uncertainty is always high. "So, it might be nice to have two or three stand-in premiers, just in case..."
You would have to decide for yourself which version is more credible. I am at my wit's end.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sister as 'Stanby PM'?

?It's not just speculation anymore. Quite a few MPs of the ruling Pheu Thai Party seem to confirm that a very interesting event is happening in Chiang Mai's political scene.
Kasem Nimmolrat is said to be planning to quit his MP's post to pave way for a by-election that will see Yaowapa Wongswasdi, PM Yingluck's elder sister, running so that she can be the "standby" in case the premier has to step aside due to certain "political accidents."
What can possibly unseat PM Yingluck? Well, insiders have worried about several complaints that have been filed with some independent agencies against the PM may contain some "unexpected risks" which could force Yingluck to give up her post. In that case, the Shinawatra's inner circle wants to be sure that Yaowapa is there to fill in the PM's post immediately.
                                          Yaowapa's is Thaksin Shinawatra's younger sister. She is the wife of former Premier Somchai Wongswasdi whose five-year political ban isn't listen until Dec 3, this year.
Kasem ran for the by-election when Somchai-Yaowapa's daughter Chinnicha Wongswasdi was disqualified as Chiang Mai MP over a year ago. Kasem, by the way, had served as Yaowapa's secretary before he was fielded to run in the by-election.
                                          Of you ask why this sounds like a game of family musical chair, you are not alone. Some observers have already posed that question -- and the Democrat Party says it has embarked on the process of screening candidates to field one to fight Yaowapa, if that speculation should come to pass in the next few days.

Friday, March 15, 2013

How ironic: A "reconciliation" bill that promises to split the country further

The Pheu Thai Party members who pushing for the passage of an amnesty bill insist, despite skepticism from their detractors, that they have no “hidden agenda” to slip in a clause that could include former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra in the deal.

But Plodprasob Suraswadi, a deputy prime minister, spilled the beans by declaring that the “reconciliation bill” must offer Thaksin amnesty.

“Why does Thaksin have to be exempted (from the proposed amnesty)? All quarrelling parties must be included in the proposed clemency,” he declared.

That probably shot the proposed bill through with holes. At least, Plodprasob’s statement, which perhaps represents the real – if unspoken--motives behind the move, has seriously weakened the ruling party’s argument all along that they weren’t working to help Thaksin. They were only trying to end the country’s conflict by pardoning all the people punished for harbouring different political opinion.

It didn’t help that Thaksin was said to have ordered his party to make a strong push for an amnesty law. He was officially advocating that line not for himself – but to help release red shirts who are being jailed for having joined the protest against the previous government – and those considered “political prisoners.”

But, according to party’s inside sources, Thaksin had issued the order through Skype to the party’s coordinating committee on Monday because he sensed that some red-shirt leaders were becoming disillusioned and might be abandoning their support for the party.

In that message, the former premier probably didn’t talk about his own amnesty although he was quoted as asking wistfully when his supporters could effectively bring him home. He was suggesting, of course, that his case would have to be settled one way or the other before he could be back in Thailand again.

But the haste with which some of the party members revived the “ reconciliation bill” – so soon after the party lost the Bangkok gubernatorial election – has raised some serious questions about the wisdom of such a move. There was little doubt that as soon as the issue was renewed, a new round of conflict would inevitably rear its ugly head again.

The fact that the person who spearheaded this new move is none other than Deputy House Speaker Charoen Chankomol, a senior Pheu Thai Party member, rendered the matter almost stillborn immediately.

While six versions of the “reconciliation bill” were waiting in the House agenda, Charoen’s open invitations to at least 11 groups of people to attend a “brain-storming” session last Monday were almost immediately shot down by the Democrats and the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

That means that the main opponents of Pheu Thai Party put up a roadblock as soon as the renewed attempt was launched. The same old routine was repeated: Pheu Thai declared that they were proposing the bill for the sake of uniting the country. The Democrats promptly rejected the idea arguing that the campaign was obviously another attempt to help Thaksin. They would have nothing to do with any bill that offers amnesty to people with criminal offences, especially related to corruption.

The first round of Charoen’s forum on Monday saw only five of the 11 parties he had invited amidst suspicion that an amnesty bill submitted by 42 Pheu Thai MPs was to be brought forward for House debate, thereby making it an “urgent” item on the agenda – a move that would certainly spark a new round of angry exchange between the pro-Thaksin and those against.

Judging from Thaksin’s latest Skype messages to his supporters here, the amnesty bill would be followed by the proposed charter amendments which, again, have been interpreted by his opponents as another move to pave the way for his return home without any criminal consequences.

The twin challenges will almost certainly backfire yet again. It is hard to imagine why Thakin’s supporters would want to create a political storm that could destabilize the Yingluck government. That should be the last thing on Thaksin’s mind. But paradoxically enough, this is precisely what might just happen if the amnesty move isn’t called off to make way for the government to resolve the much more urgent issues such as the controversial rice mortgage policy and the huge public debt being created to launch the Bt2trillion infrastructure mega projects.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Governing through Skype

Government by Skype? This morning's headlines say that former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra was on Skype again yesterday to members of his Pheu Thai Party ordering them to make a strong push for an amnesty law to prevent the red shirts abandoning their support for the ruling party.
He was also said to have criticized the party members for having reacted too slowly to the Democrats' attack on Police Gen Pongspat Pongcharoen during the campaigns leading up to the March 3 gubernatorial election. He said that was the main reason why Pongspat lost to M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra.
One Thai newspaper's headline said the former premier also advised the Pheu Thai Party's MPs to proceed with the constitutional amendments with an article-by-article approach instead of an original plan to ram it through in one go.
As far as anyone could ascertain, Premier Yingluck wasn't in attendance when the Skype exchange took place . That means she can still insists that although she had grown up with her brother and might share a lot of ideas but "I am not under his shadow" -- as she reportedly told reporters during her recent trip to Belgium and Sweden.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Lessons learned for all concerned in today's Bangkok Election

So, he made it, with a big bang too! M.R. Sukhumbhand Patribatra won the Bangkok's gubernatorial election with more than 1.2 million votes, beating his rival from the ruling Pheu Thai Party, Police Gen Pongspat Pongcharoen who got slightly more than 1 million votes. Premier Yingluck was prompt to accept defeat, extending her hand of cooperation for a "seamless" working relations with the Bangkok governor who belongs to the opposition Democrat Party.
Today's election provided a range of "lessons learned" for all parties concerned. The Pheu Thai Party now realizes that the majority of Bangkokians have yet to put their trust in a party that was involved in violent acts in the capital a few years back. Thaksin Shinawatra's confidence to "easily beating" the Democrats in Bangkok was flawed. The misplaced polls that had Pongspat leading the way before the ballot-casting must have stirred some "silent voters" to come out to cast their votes for fear that the polls might be proved right.
The Democrats, too, must have come to the realization that its dominance of the Bangkok constituencies wasn't always guaranteed. In fact, the fact that Pongspat obtained more than one million votes must have been awake-up call for those who thought Bangkokians would always vote against the powers-that-be.
Various polling agencies must now conduct some serious soul-searching and to revise their polling techniques which have now been proven seriously flawed. It would take quite a while before any trust in all those well-known polls could be restored. And they must admit that it's unfair and unprofessional to blame it all on the respondents who have been accused of the pollsters of having "lied" to the volunteers seeking their views.
Bangkokians have spoken, and loudly so...with almost 64% voter turnout, much higher than the last election despite the downpours in certain constituencies this afternoon.