The election victory in Chiang Mai late last month is a cause for Pheu Thai celebration, but its prelude can have a long-lasting, nasty and potentially-explosive consequence for the biggest opposition party.
Everyone knows who is the de facto leader of the Pheu Thai Party, as party members always used Thaksin Shinawatra’s stands to judge or predict how party conflicts would end and what directions the party would take on key issues.
That used to go on undisturbed until constitutional rules have been made clear-cut on political parties being prohibited from being influenced by “outsiders”. The extreme penalty if found guilty is party dissolution.
Which is why Thaksin’s successful plea for Chiang Mai to vote for the party’s candidate in last month’s Provincial Administrative Organisation election did not please every party member.
Some Pheu Thai leaders have been seeking resignation from executive posts, apparently out of fear a dissolution would spell an end to their parliamentary status, especially in light of official complaints being lodged with election authorities.
Legal and constitutional debate goes like this: Thaksin “interfered” in Chiang Mai election with Facebook posts, cementing Pheu Thai’s need for his presence and influences especially when the going gets tough, critics say.
No, the other side argues, Thaksin was not influencing the party. As far as Chiang Mai is concerned, he was just “supporting” a party he thought was good.
Even the term “support” will be controversial, given what political “convicts” can and cannot do. If Thaksin’s Facebook activities were deemed a “campaign” on behalf of the Chiang Mai candidate, the party can be in big, constitutional trouble.
The next few days will be intense, regarding the Chiang Mai result and what happens next.
January 2, 2021: Super Poll usually divides political opinions, and it has done so again at the very beginning of the new year.
However, it has apparently struck the right chord with the latest finding that most Thais wanted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to spare nobody as Thailand struggles with an alarming COVID-19 surge.
Another finding is bound to be controversial, showing a big majority of Thais sees him as the leader most fitted for the current crisis. It is this very same majority, though, that warned Prayut he must not carry only a flag, but also a big stick.
“Thais in unison want a leader who does not just wield power, but also really use it,” said Super Poll director Noppadon Kannika. “The prime minister must carry a flag on one hand and a whip on the other.”
That majority was 84.4 % of more than 1,100 people survey between December 29 and January 1.
Other vast majorities want the permanent secretary for interior, the permanent secretary for commerce, the permanent secretary for labour and the national police chief to shape up and be counted.
More than 82 % of those surveyed identified the top officials as crucial in creating an atmosphere where important agencies work hard from top to bottom to fight the coronavirus.
January 1, 2021: The coronavirus has immediately picked up where it left off, as humans begin their New Year with new highs, in infection cases, fatalities and hospitalisations all over the world, along with subdued countdowns everywhere.
It will be quite a showdown between man-made technology and COVID-19 over the next 12 months.
Overcoming the disease will be human beings’ highest priority in 2021 by a country mile.
The trick is that priority must not be blurred by diplomatic or political sideshows that could deceive the world into thinking that they are the genuine priorities.
The virus has proved time and again its ability to take advantage of that.