ON the RECORD
Pheu Thai Party director Phumtham Wechayachai speaks with Bangkok Post reporter PRADIT RUANGDIT about a plan to reform the party by setting up six management panels with the goal of expanding its membership.
Phumtham: Govt is on right track
What changes have you made so far after becoming the party's director?
Our party has been disrupted by two dissolutions under the constitution. When I stepped in, I thought it was important to reorganise the party with the help of all members as well as other parties that are our allies.
Now, everyone is feeling better since they have a chance to participate more in the party's affairs. At the same time, certain members of the House No.111 [executives of the disbanded Thai Rak Thai Party who have served their five-year bans from political activities] have been welcomed back to work openly for the party.
Have any new mechanisms been created and implemented?
We have a new strategic committee to think about the party's outlook. This committee is chaired by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
The party's new executive committee is divided into 19 zones. Previously, we used the five-region management approach to run the party. The old way was easy to follow but proved impractical. The party has more than 260 MPs and the old approach just didn't work when it came to reaching out to every MP.
Under the new system, we have all of our cabinet ministers take care of our MPs in the newly divided, finer-scale 19 zones. There are three zones in Bangkok, four in the Central region, six in the Northeast, three in the North and the other three in the South.
The premier also serves as the chair of this executive committee while the ministers become president of each zone and senior politicians help them as deputy zone presidents. Each zone is responsible for taking up and implementing policies decided on by the main committee.
The third panel is the mission coordination committee. This body is responsible for coordinating the implementation of policies created by the strategic committee. Policy implementation is the duty of the zones.
The fourth panel, as its main duty, every two months holds a meeting with the chair and deputy chair of every lower House committee.
The fifth panel, the House of Representatives committee, is responsible for commenting on the government's work.
The sixth committee consists of Pheu Thai's whips who mostly serve in the government whip.
What is your plan for expanding the size of the party's membership?
I've assigned all MPs to each find 5,000 new members and I expect to see the party having at least one million members by the end of the year. Now we have 30,000 members only.
The reason is that many prospective members are still afraid the party will be dissolved. But we are confident to achieve the goal of having one million members in two months because we used to have as many as 14 million when we were Thai Rak Thai.
Do you have a plan to open a training facility?
The training facility is aimed at promoting good understanding about the party's policies. It will also serve as a tool to collect opinions from the party's members about how the party should do more for their communities.
Will you take up a portfolio in the coming cabinet reshuffle?
That's what the media have speculated. I've made it clear that I'm happy to serve as a support team.
What can we expect from the government in 2013?
The government is on the right track now that it has taken full control of the budget. From this month on [the beginning of the new fiscal year], the government will begin to function fully.