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Tan Hui Yee
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Media The Straits Times

2018 09 30 Publish

Palang Pracharath Party unveiled an executive committee with Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana as its leader, Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee as deputy leader, Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong as secretary-general, and Prime Minister’s Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool as its spokesman. The four ministers are highly credentialed civilians in the military-dominated Cabinet

Dr Uttama Savanayana, for example, holds a doctorate in management from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Dr Suvit Maesincee’s doctorate in marketing is from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management

Dr Kobsak Pootrakool, an alumnus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been a key spokesman for the government’s bid to develop a new industrial and high-technology region that it calls the Eastern Economic Corridor

The last general election, in 2011, was won by Puea Thai Party. Puea Thai and its previous iterations - with support massed in northern and north-east Thailand - remains Thailand’s most electorally successful political entity in recent years, having repeatedly won elections since 2001. This despite the fact that the group in one form or another has been dissolved or seen its leaders forced out of office. Puea Thai’s success has rattled the established Bangkok-based power centres and been the source of deep political conflict in the country for over a decade

Political activity in the kingdom - which has been ruled by the military since a coup in 2014 - has intensified after a ban on political gatherings was relaxed this month to allow parties to hold meetings for their members. But they cannot campaign, even via social media

2018 11 11 Publish

Former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has fended off challengers to retain his seat as Democrat Party chief, as political parties around the kingdom intensified preparations for an election, tentatively set for next February. The 54-year-old pipped rivals Warong Dechgitvigrom and Alongkorn Ponlaboot to the post after an extended cross-country campaign, winning 67,505 votes out of more than 120,000 cast by Democrat members nationwide.

Prime Minister and coup leader Prayut Chan-o-cha, despite recently launching several social media accounts and extensively touring the country, has yet to announce his candidacy

The Puea Thai party, which won a landslide victory in the last election in 2011, unveiled a leadership line-up last month that conspicuously kept some of its most important figures out of executive posts

… the scions of several Puea Thai politicians were unveiled last week as key members of a new party called the Thai Raksa Chart Party, led by former Puea Thai lawmaker Preechapol Pongpanit. This sparked talk that it was a ‘backup party’ for Puea Thai. Its earlier iterations were dissolved by court rulings over the past decade

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who headed the Puea Thai-led government from 2011 to 2014, is living in exile to avoid a jail sentence for negligence. Her brother Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted by a coup in 2006 and is also living abroad to evade a jail sentence

Thailand’s Constitution was rewritten after the 2014 coup to introduce proportional representation, which makes it difficult for one big party like Puea Thai to dominate elections, as happened previously

2018 12 12 Publish

In a statement on the Royal Gazette website yesterday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, as chairman of the ruling junta, lifted broad restrictions on activities such as political assembly and fund raising which were imposed shortly after the 2014 coup. Separately, Thailand’s Election Commission (EC) confirmed that the general election will be held on Feb 24, as mentioned earlier by Cabinet members. But full-scale election campaigning is still pro-hibited until an official announcement of the polls is made next month, said the commission

Thailand’s SET Index rallied briefly after the lunch break - when the announcement was made - but ended the day down 0.99 per cent

Thailand’s last election in 2014 was annulled after anti-government protesters sabotaged polling in order to prevent the Pheu Thai Party-headed government from returning to power. Pheu Thai was eventually ousted by a coup led by then army chief Prayut

A Public Assembly Act that went into effect in 2015 lays down strict rules for public gatherings and brandishes jail terms of up to 10 years for causing a disturbance. Any person who wishes to hold a public rally is required to seek permission from the authorities at least 24 hours beforehand

The Public Assembly Act was wielded just this week. The mother of a medic, who a court had ruled was killed by soldiers during street protests in 2010, was charged by police on Monday over a public gathering held to demand justice for her daughter

2018 12 16 Publish

Dr Uttama Savanayana says it would be ideal if Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (with yellow tie in middle picture) gets to keep his job after the Feb 24 general election. People waiting to withdraw government-allotted cash handouts recently

People waiting to withdraw government-allotted cash handouts recently in Thailand. Palang Pracharath Party chief and Minister of Industry Uttama Savanayana has shrugged off critics’ accusations that the military government was using the handouts to raise the profile of its allied political party

Supporters surrounding former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban at an intra-party voting centre yesterday. He promised not to rejoin politics after leading the 2014 street protests

Thailand’s economy has recovered steadily since 2014, when months of debilitating street protests plunged its growth below 1 per cent. Last year, it logged 3.9 per cent growth, though economists warn that global trade tensions will cloud the outlook in the coming months

Since then army commander Prayut staged a coup in 2014, the military government has launched its own grassroots development programme called Pracharat and tried to streamline aid for the poor with smart cards topped up with regular credit by the government for the purchase of essentials. It has staged international roadshows to plug a new manufacturing and services hub across three provinces called the Eastern Economic Corridor

Thailand’s new Constitution allows someone who has not been elected by the public to be prime minister, as long as he or she wins enough votes from the elected Lower House and the appointed Senate