Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thai Politics: Thaksin pushes Yingluck for PM

Yingluck Shinawatra is expected to be named the Puea Thai Party's No.1 party-list candidate, giving her an opportunity to become the country's first female prime minister.

Former Thai PM Thaksin and Yingluck: Has ‘strong party support’

A Puea Thai source yesterday said the party's key figures had travelled to meet former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the party's main supporter and de facto leader, in Dubai and they had agreed to put Ms Yingluck, Thaksin's youngest sister, as No.1 on the party list and name her as a candidate for the premiership.

The source said Thaksin was pushing for Ms Yingluck as Puea Thai's prime ministerial candidate. However, the source said the candidacy for prime minister is not limited to Ms Yingluck. Candidate numbers 2-10 on the party list also stand an equal chance of being nominated for the premiership if they prove more qualified than Ms Yingluck, the source said.

Key figures expected to be placed highly on Puea Thai's party list include Bannapot Damapong, an adopted brother of Thaksin's ex-wife Potjaman na Pombejra, and Boonklee Plangsiri, the group chairman of Shin Corporation, the source said.

However, the source said the party has to wait for confirmation from Mr Boonklee. If Mr Boonklee refuses to run in the election, the party may approach Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisarn, vice chairman of Shin Corporation, to stand as party list candidate. The two are considered right-hand men to Thaksin in terms of business.

The source said the party's financiers were also sending their representatives to register as party-list candidates.

The names of all party-list candidates will be finalised after House dissolution.

The source said Thaksin had not yet decided who would be named as party list candidates 2-5.

Those qualified for positions 2-5 on the party list are equally important, the source said, adding that Thaksin suggested they be chosen by drawing lots.

However, the source said the party will use the principle of political seniority to decide who will get which position in the party list.

The source said Puea Thai has also prepared a separate list of MPs from both the constituency system and the list system who will be named as cabinet ministers and cabinet secretary if the party wins the election.

They include Wiroon Techapaiboon, Santi Prompat, Apiwan Wiriyachai, Witthaya Buranasiri, Wicharn Meechainant, Surapong Towijakchaikul, Worawat Uea-apinyakul and Supol Fong-ngam. There are also non-MPs on the list of cabinet ministers. These include Olarn Chaipravat, Pichai Naripthaphan and Pol Lt-Gen Chat Kuldilok.

The source said almost 100 members of the red shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship had been named as party candidates to run in the election.

But after checking their qualifications, the party had found many of them had been disenfranchised and were not eligible to run in the election because they had failed to exercise their voting rights in the most recent local government elections.

Key red shirts such as Jatuporn Prompan and Nattawut Saikua are expected to be ranked between 11 and 20 on the list system, while Korkaew Pikulthong, another key red shirt figure, is expected to be ranked lower than No.20, the source said.

The source said while Thaksin was pushing for Ms Yingluck to be Puea Thai's prime ministerial candidate, the former premier was concerned that some MPs, particularly those in a faction led by list MP Mingkwan Saengsuwan - another possibility for prime minister - might not support Ms Yingluck.

Thaksin, therefore, had ordered Puea Thai MPs who will run in the election to sign resignation letters in advance as a bargaining chip to ensure they will vote for Ms Yingluck to be prime minister after the election, the source said.

Source: Bangkok Post

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