Thailand’s Next Prime Minister?
Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 14th December, 2008
Yesterday I was one of the guest speakers at a Liberal International/Friedrich Naumann Stiftung conference in Bangkok on ‘Safeguarding Democracy: the case of Thailand and its regional/global impacts’. But the star turn in the morning was Abhisit Vejjajiva, the British-born and Oxford-educated leader of the Democrat Party of Thailand, who will almost certainly become the country’s new Prime Minister tomorrow, providing there is no last-minute hitch in forging a coalition between the Democrats (who are LI observer members and mainly strong in Bangkok and the south of the country) and various other groups. Abhisit (who reportedly made some of the lady Western journalists at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand swoon recently) is seen as the best hope of ushering in a new era of politics in this South East Asian nation, which has known too many cases of ‘brown envelope’ politics — shameless venality and corruption.
In Abhisit’s favour is the fact that the PAD ‘yellow shirt’ pro-democracy demonstrators who paralysed parts of the city earlier this year and closed down the two main airports, is putting a lot of trust in him and his colleagues to clean up the situation. However, it was clear from meetings with PAD leaders that my colleagues and I had this morning that the new government will be monitored just as closely as was the discredited regime of ousted PM Thaksin (who is still trying to enthuse his ‘red shirt’ supporters from his exile in the UAE) and his short-lived successors, so Abhisit will have to make sure that he delivers real change quickly!