GIVEN THEIR REPEATED STRATEGY OF ”trying to beat ’em and looking to bow to ’em”, Pheu Thai Party will likely lose many MP seats to Move Forward Party though the former might probably win more MP seats than Palang Pracharath Party in the next election nationwide.
As long as Pheu Thai Party, with ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra performing from Dubai as the party’s de facto leader occasionally flashing out instructions and guidance to their rank and file in Bangkok, virtually adopts such accustomed, ironical strategy of ”trying to beat ’em and looking to bow to ’em”, they could hardly manage to make a post-election, one-party government like he used to over a decade ago, concluded political observers personally close to some of the opposition party’s MPs.
Just when it comes to the lese majeste law, better known as Criminal Code Section 112, Pheu Thai Party seemed to almost immediately send themselves reeling all the way back to square one. Little did the party’s rank and file realise any of their partisan standpoints, initially adopted in the course of planned amendment to the draconian law, could be ultimately turned into an about-face overnight at the whims of the self-exiled Thaksin and in the face of fast-augmented objection in the political arena and on social media in this country.
Shortly after Pheu Thai MP Cholanan Srikaeo was officially named the new leader of the party in place of Sompong Amornvivat whereas one of Thaksin’s children, namely Paetongtarn Shinawatra, became head of the party’s advisory team for public participation and innovation during a recent party caucus, Chaikasem Nitisiri, one of the party’s trio candidates for premier in the 2019 election, announced what was initially viewed as the party’s remarkable standpoint in favour of amendment to Section 112 in parliament.
For whatever conceivable reasons, Pheu Thai Party’s publicly-declared perspective toward the long-sought-after amendment to the lese majeste law almost immediately encountered vehement opposition from within the party and without, reportedly prompting Thaksin to send Cholanan scrambling to turn it around and say his camp will never take part in any current or future movement toward it.
”That Khun Thaksin told the new party leadership to turn around and finally say no to the Section 112 issue obviously underlined his losing ground in a hard-fought battle to score popularity among the young generations of those who will go to the polls. They would undoubtedly prefer to vote for Move Forward Party whose ideological standpoints, specifically that toward the Section 112 issue, are relatively unwavering and steadfast.
”Perhaps, it might never dawn on Khun Thaksin himself that as many as 100,000 people have already signed a public petition for legal passage of the issue into parliamentary consideration in a few days,” said a political observer personally close to pro-amendment MPs.
In the meantime, Move Forward Party, a doppelganger of the dissolved Future Forward Party, had declared a partisan resolution in pursuit of amendment to Section 112 several months before massive calls from among pro-democracy activist groups such as Khana Ratsadon, United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration and Thalufah were repeated on Bangkok streets recently.
”Odds will be 100 to 1 in favour of eventual abortion to such amendment bids in parliament. But what kind of politicians would really care? Those who are making a steadfast move for it, albeit in unfruitful fashion, will effortlessly steal electoral votes from those who could only try to beat ’em and look to bow to ’em at the sametime,” a lawmaker was quoted as saying.
Many voters, particularly the first-timers and other young ones in Bangkok, its neighbouring provinces and urban constituencies in the northern and northeastern regions of the country, will likely prefer Move Forward Party to Pheu Thai Party as far as the 112 issue is concerned, the opposition MP was quoted as predicting.
No matter how far-fetched and unsuccessful the legislative passage of the Section 112 amendment would finally be, Move Forward Party will likely use it as part of their electoral campaigns in addition to other partisan platforms which could eventually win votes from Xer and Yer constituents.
Nevertheless, there will very likely be no large scale of cross-polarised votes from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party or Bhumjaithai Party or Democrat Party to the opposition Pheu Thai Party or Move Forward Party in the next race to parliament. That means few voters will turn around from picking a Palang Pracharath or Bhumjaithai or Democrat candidate to picking a Pheu Thai or Move Forward candidate instead and vice versa.
In the previous election, dozens of Pheu Thai and then-Future Forward candidates stole each other’s votes in the same constituencies, especially in Bangkok, its neighbouring provinces and other urban constituencies across the country, thus resulting in shared defeats to those running under the banners of the military-organised Palang Pracharath Party.
All major parties have already pitted respective candidates for head of a post-election government, albeit in unofficial fashion so far, except for Pheu Thai Party being as yet undecided. The lame excuse that whoever is going to be the Pheu Thai candidate would be otherwise prone to undue criticism if unveiled for the time being whilst all the rivals would not obviously underline the wishy-washy state of partisan dependence on the Shinawatra family, who are not only the de facto leader of the party but the de facto owner of it.
A small faction of the party’s rank and file desperately hoped that Paetongtarn would not be named a candidate for premier under the Pheu Thai tickets only to follow suit of Thaksin, his brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat and his sister Yingluck Shinawatra chronologically.
The 35-year-old head of Pheu Thai Party’s advisory team for public participation and innovation is feared to cause a large number of votes in their party-list mode being stolen away by the archrival Move Forward Party. That will only rub salt into the wound with respect to the former’s off-and-on stand toward the Section 112 issue for crying out loud.
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, who re-established his Future Forward Party party as both Move Forward Party and Progressive Movement, and former prime minister Thanksin Shinawatra. Top photo: Thai Post and Home Page photo: Matichon