Thai politics Thailand

Details on Thailand Cabinet Reshuffle from AP

The AP reports:

A firebrand ‘Red Shirt’ leader charged with terrorism over the movement’s 2010 protests was appointed Wednesday to Thailand’s Cabinet, and a second appointee is a businesswoman blacklisted from certain U.S. financial transactions.

Worth a read.

Thai politics

Strange image of Yingluck on front page of today’s Nation

2011 09 21 nation yingluck

File under: Yet another post about interesting Bangkok English language newspaper occurrences:

The front page of today’s Nation newspaper features this strange image of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

It’s unclear to me if it’s a photoshopped image or an illustration.

The image accompanies what seems to be this story, which begins:

The Cabinet yesterday approved increased monthly cost-of-living allowances for civil servants and state employees – a time-buying tactic designed to cushion pressure mounting over an election pledge to raise the starting salary of civil servants holding bachelor’s degrees to Bt15,000.

(Via @Saksith.)

(Image: @isAMare on Twitpic.)

Thai politics

TIME on Yingluck, women in politics, Thaksin, and the road ahead

TIME has a story on Yingluck, women in politics, Thaksin, and more:

She delivers the line with a breathy purr: “The microwave is my lover.” Thailand may be famous for its incendiary curries and the tireless women who prepare them, but Yingluck Shinawatra is used to quick results — and not just in the kitchen. Last month the 44-year-old business executive was sworn in as the politically fractious country’s first female Prime Minister. It was her first-ever political race.

Thai politics

TIME: “How Thaksin Stole Yingluck’s Spotlight”

TIME reports on Thaksin’s visit to Japan and Yingluck’s new government:

Is Thaksin Shinawatra a criminal or a VIP? The question must have vexed the Japanese officials who considered a request by the former Thai Prime Minister to start a six-day tour of their country this week. Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 military coup, then sentenced in absentia to two years in jail for corruption. Previous attempts by the Dubai-based billionaire to visit Japan and other major nations have been stymied by a hostile Thai government. Stripped of his Thai passport, he travels the world as a citizen of Montenegro.
But Thailand’s government has changed — Thaksin’s younger sister Yingluck, 44, recently became the nation’s first female Prime Minister — and so has the status of its best-known fugitive. He arrived in Tokyo on Aug. 22 to be greeted by Japan’s Financial Services Minister Shozaburo Jimi. “Coming to Japan is my own right,” he told reporters. “My sister has nothing to do with it.”

There’s also this, on anti-Thaksin forces and the military:

Any attempt to pardon or repatriate Thaksin could regalvanize anti-Thaksin street protesters, who in 2008 occupied the Prime Minister’s office and shut down Bangkok’s airports.

It would also antagonize Thailand’s powerful military. Its generals have remained silent of late — conspicuously so in the case of Prayuth Chan-ocha, the gaffe-prone army chief. General Prayuth helped topple Thaksin in 2006 and his loathing for Pheu Thai is one of the country’s worst-kept secrets. But with October’s annual military reshuffle approaching, Prayuth is currently preoccupied with resisting attempts by Yingluck’s government to promote pro-Thaksin officers. “Prayuth and others are waiting until the reshuffle is complete,” says Chambers. “Then I think they’ll become much more vocal in their opposition to this government.”

Thai politics

Bloomberg: Thaksin gets Japan visa

Bloomberg reports:

Japan said today it had granted an entry visa to exiled former Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup, 10 days after parliament selected his sister as the country’s first female prime minister.

Thaksin was granted a visa by Japan at the request of the Thai government, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters today. Edano didn’t say when Thaksin would enter the country.

Thaksin is interested “in visiting and meeting with victims of the disaster in northern Japan and promoting goodwill between our two countries,” Edano said.
During the election campaign, Yingluck Shinawatra deflected questions on whether her Pheu Thai party, which won a majority in the July 3 vote, would promote amnesty for Thaksin who has been living in Dubai since fleeing a 2008 jail term for abuse of power. To engineer the return of her brother, she will have to overcome opposition from Thailand’s military, courts and bureaucracy.

Thai politics

Nation graphic of Yingluck’s Cabinet

2011 08 10 yingluck cabinet

Today’s Nation has a graphic of Prime Minister Yingluck’s Cabinet.

Here’s the original (larger) image and the accompanying story, which notes:

Prime Minister Yingluck Shina-watra’s Cabinet line-up, which got royal endorsement last night, has been described by political observers as acceptable.

It appears that the ruling Pheu Thai Party has tried to please critics while also avoiding political confrontation. No red-shirt leader figures in the Cabinet.

(Emphasis mine.)

(Via @Saksith.)

(Image: The Nation.)

Thai politics

It’s official: Yingluck is prime minister

2011 08 09 yingluck

Just noting briefly, for the record, that it’s now official.

As the AP reports:

Yingluck Shinawatra, the sister of an ousted Thai leader, vowed Monday to work for national reconciliation as she formally became the country’s first female prime minister.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej certified her appointment as the country’s 28th prime minister with a royal command presented at a ceremony at her Pheu Thai party headquarters.

Read the whole thing.

There’s also a piece from the BBC, and a story in today’s Bangkok Post.

Up next: We’ll learn about her Cabinet.

As ever, stay tuned, Thailand-watchers.

(Image: Bangkok Post.)

Thai politics

Pavin Chachavalpongpun on Yingluck’s challenges

Pavin Chachavalpongpun assesses, in today’s WSJ, some of the challenges facing Thai Prime Minister Elect Yingluck Shinawatra:

Public attention is now on Ms. Yingluck’s vision for the country: Whom will she appoint to the cabinet and what policies will she implement? She is expected to reveal her ministers shortly. She has remained tight-lipped over her choices and has fended off criticism that her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, is the real hand behind cabinet posts and policies.

Ms. Yingluck’s primary task is bringing back stability. So she has to appoint a cabinet and implement such policies that both reward key patrons in the winning coalition and build a credible profile for the new government–one that doesn’t lead the opposition to quickly cry foul.

Mr. Abhisit’s Democrats are wary of the possible return of Mr. Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup. Hence the cabinet will probably consist of a mix of influential politicians with ties to Mr. Thaksin, as well as eminent technocrats and those successful in the private sector who aren’t seen as close to him.

And the concluding graphs:

Many Thais expect Ms. Yingluck to display her leadership and courage in addressing the difficult issue of social injustice and double standards, to heal the rift in their society. But there’s a giant question mark about how she will shape her relationship with the military and the palace. The military earlier accused Mr. Thaksin of disrespecting the much-revered monarchy. Consequently, he was toppled.

If Ms. Yingluck comes across as a weak leader, she will be manipulated. If she becomes too popular, she could be eliminated like her brother. The trick will be to promote those persons, ideas and policies that attain maximum consensus and ensure all-round political and economic development in Thailand.

(All emphasis mine.)

(Via @HarveyBKK.)

Thai politics

Political happenings in Thailand this week: Yingluck’s royal command and cabinet formation

The official MCOT news agency reports that Prime Minister Elect Yingluck Shinawatra is set to receive a “royal command” later today:

House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranond was called on by the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary to be granted an audience on His Majesty the King’s behalf in order to hand down a royal command appointing Yingluck Shinawatra as Thailand’s newest and first female prime minister.

The command will take place on Monday at 5.30 pm at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital, according to the Secretariat of the House of Representatives.

As for Yingluck’s cabinet, today’s Nation says that:

Prime Minister designate Yingluck Shinawatra is expected to submit her Cabinet line-up for royal endorsement tomorrow, Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit said yesterday.

The government should be installed and ready to serve in time for the celebrations of Her Majesty’s birthday on August 12,” he said.

MCOT concurs:

The cabinet lineup is expected to be submitted for royal approval on Tuesday, while prime minister-to-be Yingluck Shinawatra will go ahead with tackling flooding as her administration’s first priority, said Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit on Sunday.

(All emphasis mine.)

Thai politics

NYT Yingluck profile

The New York Times has a profile of Thai Prime Minister Elect Yingluck Shinawatra that includes some interesting details.

From the lede:

The first woman in this country of 65 million to hold the top political job, Ms. Yingluck is enjoying a rare luxury in the often macho world of Thai politics, floating above the political snake pit and dismissing prickly questions with her winning smile.

Yet Ms. Yingluck, 44, who has never held political office before, is also one of the least experienced leaders to emerge in a major Asian country in decades. A politician’s rapid rise to power is often called meteoric. But space rocks travel too slowly to describe Ms. Yingluck’s apparition in Thai politics.

Her political career spans about 80 days.


Supporters of Pheu Thai say they admire the corporate successes of the Shinawatra family and see Ms. Yingluck as in touch with markets and the business world at large. In a country that reveres beauty, voters also appeared to have been charmed by Ms. Yingluck’s good looks. (One writer in The Bangkok Post, who was analyzing Ms. Yingluck’s hairstyle, waxed poetic: “That side part perfectly grazes your ear like a young lamb gently skipping over a meadow,” the author wrote.)

And there’s this, on the Kentucky connection:

In the 1970s, Mr. Thaksin obtained a master’s degree in criminal justice at Eastern Kentucky University. A decade and a half later, Ms. Yingluck got a masters in public administration an hour’s drive away, at Kentucky State University, a historically black institution amid horse farms and rolling hills.

(Felicia Lewis, a spokeswoman for Kentucky State, said the university was preparing a letter of congratulations for what may be its most famous alumna. “It’s a big deal here,” Ms. Lewis said.)

(All emphasis mine.)