07/06/2011, 00.00
THAILAND

Thaksin Shinawatra’s shadow hangs over premier-elect Yingluck

The newly elected leader is working to form the government, her choice of Ministers of Defence, Interior and Foreign Affairs will be decisive in outlining her future policy and whether she will be truly independent from her brother Thaksin. AsiaNews interviews policy experts.
Bangkok (AsiaNews) - Yingluck Shinawatra, leader of the Pheu Tai Party (PTP) which triumphed in last week’s elections by obtaining the absolute majority of seats, is working to form a new coalition government that would include 4 small parties. Meanwhile, after her first comments, AsiaNews interviews with academics and experts on the new political scene shows a great desire to overcome internal divisions and the ongoing conflicts of recent years.

Everyone is waiting to see who will be appointed to the Ministries for Defence, Interior, Foreign Affairs, crucial to understanding the future policy, as well as to see if Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's brother, is in reality not trying to regain political power through her. Thaksin was sentenced to prison for abuse of power and financial and tax offenses, and many say he will aim to influence the newly elected prime minister. He has always denied this and from his self-imposed golden exile in Dubai replied on July 4th that he wants to withdraw from politics.

The defence minister will have to face the generals who overthrew Thaksin's government with a peaceful revolution in 2006 and who are determined to prevent him regaining power. However from abroad, Thaksin has continued to intervene in politics, through the "red shirts", a movement linked directly to him that already calls for "justice" for the 91 deaths caused by clashes with the military in Bangkok in 2010. The previous government held an unsuccessful inquiry that failed to produce the desired results.

According Nithi Eyowsriwong, a former member of the Reform Committee, "those who voted for Ptp are not all red shirts or Thaksin nostalgic. Maybe people do not want the Democratic Party (PD) to rule, because they don’t trust it, just as they don’t trust the military " who instead are favourable to the Democratic Party. "The Ptp parliamentarians are professionals and businessmen, as are those of the PD. So I do not believe that they will immediately demand justice for the 91 deaths suffered in Bangkok, as pre-announced. They will not remove the army chief General Prayuth Jan-O-Choa".

Preediyathorn Taewakul, former deputy prime minister and former finance minister, says that "the Ptp victory with the majority of the votes shows that the population is not conducive to a coup which was rumoured before this election. The Democratic Party lost because the business world and population are unhappy with its lack of decision on important issues such as the price of oil. "

Narong Petchprasert, Professor of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University, the oldest and most famous of the country, says he does not believe that "there will be immediate political reform. The previous conflict [between the red shirts loyal to Thaksin and contrary to the military and the government and the yellow shirts who supported them] did not have class reasons, there were people belonging to each class in the 2 groups. " The researcher also believes that the PTP won with a populist program, which it believes are acceptable to the majority, although not easy to implement.

His opinion is echoed by Attasith Pankaew, also a professor of political science at Chulalongkorn, according to whom "populism is a double-edged sword. The public debt is more than 50% of gross domestic product, beyond all limits, and will cause a new financial crisis. " He is waiting to see how the government plans to implement the programs of aid to people promised during the elections.

Everyonw is really still waiting to see if Yingluck will be independent from her brother and Tueksuban Suthep, secretary general of the Democratic Party, says that "if she allows herself to be controlled by Thaksin, her government will not last long."


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