Yaowapa will have to wait awhile, thankfully
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is clearly relieved and has good cause to celebrate after she was cleared by the National Anti-Corruption Commission of a harge of making a false assets declaration.
- Published: 5/04/2013 at 09:39 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Ms Yingluck is still the prime minister. (File photo)
As a Thai national, I, too, feel relieved that Ms Yingluck is still my prime minister – and not another member of the Shinawatra clan, her elder sister Yaowapa Wongsawat, who is contesting the by-election this month in Chiang Mai’s Constituency 3 - a vote she is sure to win.
It's widely believed the ultimate reason for her candidacy is so the party would have an "acceptable" successor for Ms Yingluck as prime minister should she have been found guilty by the NACC.
Honestly, the mere report of Mrs Yaowapa being groomed as the next prime minister rendered me speechless when I first heard it.
Thankfully, Prime Minister Yingluck has passed the test. So Mrs Yaowapa, or Jeh Daeng as she is known, will have to wait a bit longer if she still aspires to follow in the footsteps of her younger sister, and younger brother before her.
First she will have to win the April 21 by-election, but that seems close to a certainty as Chiang Mai is regarded as the fortress of the Pheu Thai Party. Her main rival, Kingkarn na Chiangmai of the Democrat Party is a popular figure in the northern capital, but even she has admitted she is the underdog.
Almost two years in the corridors of power, Ms Yingluck now appears to be enjoying the job and the limelight attached to it. From being a green politician when she took on the premiership, she has steadily matured politically and appears to be more self-confident before the media and the public.
I don’t think she would willingly relinquish the top executive post to her elder sister, even if she is being touted as a reserve prime minister. Although she has erred several times in her speeches, she is presentable and looks good on television and in public – a natural advantage that Mrs Yaowapa clearly lacks.
With the prospect of becoming the next prime minister dashed for the time being, Mrs Yaowapa’s main job will be to rein in the Pheu Thai MPs in the parliament, who are still divided into factions – a job that she seems to be familiar with and suited to.
Ms Yaowapa is likely a sure-winner in a by-election in her hometown - Chiang Mai. (File photo)
Currently, she is running her own faction which is reported to control 50-60 MPs in the House of Representatives, even though she herself is not an MP. Among the MPs in her stable are Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, Deputy Finance Minister Thanusak Lek-uthai and PM’s Office Minister Varathep Rattanakorn, along with the Matchima faction of the Bhumjaithai Party led by Somsak Thepsuthin.
Hopefully, Mrs Yaowapa will not overstep her parliamentary role once she becomes an MP after the by-election, and does not interfere too much in the job of Prime Minister Yingluck.
Unless there is a political accident, Ms Yingluck is now likely to fulfill her four-year term in the office – a rare success in the turbulent world of Thai politics - and complete a historic double as the kingdom's first woman prime minister.
About the author
- Writer: Veera Prateepchaikul
- Position: Former Editor