Lifeline set up for Pongsapat
Pol Gen Pongsapat has given up a lot to stand for Bangkok governor, but don't cry for him if he loses - Khunying Sudarat, insiders say, is being bounced around by Pheu Thai which is planning her life - PM Yingluck defies the critics and thrives with a healthy dose of PR image-making
The leadership vacuum in the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) is giving way to a flurry of speculation as to who will be caretaker secretary-general of a very dynamic agency.
Pongsapat: Back-up plan if he loses
The resignation of Pongsapat Pongcharoen as the office secretary-general to contest the upcoming governor poll as the Pheu Thai Party candidate has left the top seat at the agency empty and got many people speculating about who will take his place in a caretaker role.
No one in the agency is daring enough to bet on a permanent replacement as Pol Gen Pongsapat could be back in the old job at the end of the governor election.
Some observers have voiced agreement with opinion surveys putting the deputy national police chief behind his biggest rival from the Democrat Party, MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra, in popularity.
A deal has been cut struck the government, that if Pol Gen Pongsapat loses the election then he can return as chief of the ONCB.
But the office cannot remain headless even for the few months of the election period,
A source in the ONCB has been hinting for a while at the likelihood of those in power appointing one of the deputy secretaries-general to the caretaker position. The ideal deputy secretary-general for the post may be the one least senior but who is closest of all the deputies to the government.
However, a number of agency insiders earlier predicted someone outside of the ONCB could be picked to ''keep the seat warm'' for Pol Gen Pongsapat.
One of the names which came up was Pol Lt Gen Worapong Chiewpreecha, an adviser to the Royal Thai Police Office.
However, it is rumoured the caretaker post will eventually be offered to Narong Rattananukul, the ONCB adviser, the most senior official in the office's top echelon who is currently occupying a C-9 slot.
The source said Pheu Thai is doing everything in its power to boost Pol Gen Pongsapat's chances of winning the election, as it feels a changing of the guard at City Hall is long overdue.
But the ruling party figures it must have a Plan B in case Pol Gen Pongsapat does not make it in the poll.
The plan could well involve grooming Pol Gen Pongsapat for national police chief in the future as consolation if he fails to get elected as Bangkok governor.
The ONCB could be a stepping stone for Pol Gen Pongsapat who has enjoyed a meteoric rise in his police career.
The office has been endowed with a substantial budget allocation from the government which has made drug suppression one of its priority policies.
Sudarat 'made' to join campaign
One of the all-time classic numbers, Chang Rai Lua (most cruel), has struck a chord with Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan after she sidestepped nomination as the ruling party's Bangkok governor candidate.
The song, composed by the prolific songwriter, the late Mongkol Amatayakul, and popularised by singer Wongjan Pairoj, bemoans a cruel person's total disregard for mercy toward others, especially his or her loved ones.
Sudarat: Schedule decided for her
A source in the Pheu Thai Party said the song rings somewhat bitterly in the ears of Khunying Sudarat, a former deputy leader of the defunct Thai Rak Thai Party and a prominent member of the ruling Pheu Thai Party.
The source, who is close to Khunying Sudarat, said misinformation was spread about her and it was unfair to the seasoned politician.
To a lot of Khunying Sudarat's supporters, many of whom are Bangkok MPs, her missing the chance to stand as the party's candidate in the March governor poll is enough of a disappointment.
But Pheu Thai executives may have rubbed it in by announcing Khunying Sudarat would join the campaign and would last Tuesday unveil Pol Gen Pongsapat Pongcharoen's candidacy.
The announcement was made without Khunying Sudarat having any knowledge of the event. She was never invited, let alone informed, said the source.
When the party did contact her, one of its bigwigs gently reminded her of Pheu Thai's expectations. She was told she was expected to be seen to be cosying up to Pol Gen Pongsapat and come to the aid of the candidate on the campaign trail.
The source said this was most hurtful to Khunying Sudarat who it is said has made a sacrifice by not vying for the party's nomination as its candidate in the governor race.
The supporters, from district councillors to MPs in Bangkok, had rallied behind Khunying Sudarat earlier on when the party was searching for a candidate.
They were most confident that if Khunying Sudarat had been sent to compete against the Democrat candidate, Pheu Thai would have less to worry about with their electioneering.
They predicted Khunying Sudarat as a candidate would have helped Pheu Thai make up some ground as the Democrat nominee is leading in many opinion polls.
She possesses the acumen to pull off a show that could have handed Pheu Thai the keys to City Hall for the first time in many years, according to the supporters.
The source said information about Khunying Sudarat has been twisted by certain elements.
She had informed the party that she would be leaving for Nepal on a mission to restore the birthplace of Lord Buddha on Jan 14. However, it was announced by the party that she planned to attend the governor candidacy launch the next day.
Pol Gen Pongsapat has been quick to hit the hustings and reach out to voters. He may have Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra by his side in the election campaign walk but some party insiders say canvassers are following Pol Gen Pongsapat around only because Ms Yingluck is there with them.
The source said the governor poll will be tough for all candidates and unless they have genuine support from the people around them, their electoral challenges will be a lot harder to surmount than they actually are.
The grooming of a prime minister
Since taking the helm of the Pheu Thai-led coalition government, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has often been derided by her opponents as just a puppet or nominee of her elder brother, ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
She has also been accused of being incompetent, unprepared for official duties and showing no respect for parliament with her absence from House meetings.
Despite a constant barrage of criticism, Ms Yingluck has opted to remain silent. But her close aides and watchdogs are seen busily protecting their boss by countering those allegations.
Yingluck: Image makeover
Her supporters insist that by not responding to the accusations, the premier has turned her perceived weakness into a strength as she is drawing sympathy from many people.
Her supporters have chosen to overlook the criticisms against her.
Ms Yingluck seems to be aware of her new-found strength and now focuses on her fashion and manners.
She is often seen wearing carefully selected outfits and giving a wai to show her respect to people. She uses her dress style and her role to promote Thai culture as a selling point.
Her public relations team has tried to boost her image by organising events for the premier to charm people, particularly during Children's Day and Teachers' Day earlier this month.
During the traditional Children's Day activities at Government House, Ms Yingluck showed up with her son Supasek ''Pike'' Amornchat, who performed a magic show which drew wide attention from children and their parents.
In the eyes of her admirers, the event featured Ms Yingluck as a warm woman who loves children from all social strata. Many children from the far South who face daily security threats joined the Children's Day activities.
On the recent Teacher's Day, the government's PR team invited Ms Yingluck's former teachers from several high schools to attend the event. It was said that she had never visited those schools after completing her high school education in Chiang Mai.
The event featured the premier paying respect to her former teachers who then gave speeches praising her for her leadership since she was a student.
During her high school years, Ms Yingluck was selected to join the best manners contest every year. She was nominated to join many other contests and activities.
Her image-boosting team had asked her to highlight the plight of children in the deep South during Children's Day and give a promise to provide better welfare for Bangkok almost 20,000 teachers.
Her PR team successfully used the two events to showcase the strengths of Ms Yingluck for public consumption.