Yingluck, stay home, you're needed here

This year Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will pay official visits to about 10 countries. Since she took office in August 2011 she has visited about 30 nations. She has been 19 months in office, that’s about 1.6 foreign trips per month.

Foreign relations is an important function of the prime minister's office, however Thailand is not in a foreign relations crisis. Rather, we have a score of domestic problems that need the urgent presence and attention of the prime minister.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, left (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Ms Yingluck is the elected leader of the nation. Whether you voted for her or not, like her or dislike her, what she does or doesn’t do affects the entire nation. If she does well by the nation, we all benefit. Hence, we should support her in doing well by the nation. If she does poorly by the nation, we all suffer. Hence, we should try to make sure that she does well. 

There are ministers in charge of the different departments, whether finance, interior, commerce, justice and others. They run the day-to-day operations of the kingdom. The prime minister, however, is the national leader, the one who gives vision, guides and inspires; leads and sets examples. 

The leader is someone who we can turn to in times of need, the one to put out the fire if the flame threatens to burn, the one who carries the hopes of a nation in times of crisis. The leader is the national integrity, character and moral fiber. 

If that’s too big of an expectation, too much of a burden, give someone else the job.  

Ms Yingluck, please stay home, the country needs a leader. 

Just last Friday, a fire ravaged Mae Surin refugee camp, home to about 3,000 people. The tragedy killed 37 Karen refugees, injured over 100 and left more than 2,300 homeless. 

The district police chief, Pol Col Nitinart Wittayawuthikul, was transferred, pending an investigation, on accusations of negligence in handling of the case. Pol Col Nitinart in turn claimed that he is being punished for refusing to confirm that the deadly fire was an accident. Witnesses say they saw a helicopter flying above the camp minutes before the fire broke out.

Remains of burnt houses are seen from a helicopter at the Ban Mae Surin refugee camp near Mae Hong Son March 23, 2013. (Reuters Photo)

Perhaps it was just an accident, or perhaps the incident stinks of conspiracy, corruption and murder. Ms Yingluck is not the chief of police, but she is the elected leader of the entire nation. A case such as this needs the attention of the leader. 

In a country where conspiracy and corruption is the norm rather than the exception, the national integrity, character and moral fiber needs to use the full weight of her authority to make sure that there’s transparency, accountability and justice.  

If that’s too big of an expectation, too much of a burden, give someone else the job.  

Ms Yingluck, please stay home, the country needs a leader. 

Despite the economic and industrial progress, the highrises, fancy cars and high society, Thailand is still very much a rural, peasant country. A government’s duty is to protect and to provide: to protect lives, property and civil rights; and to provide opportunities, infrastructure, education, public services, healthcare and civil rights. 

Healthcare is a basic necessity that a government must provide for the people. But just this Tuesday, almost 1,000 rural doctors and dentists from across the country gathered at Government House to protest against a new public health policy to cut their hardship allowance and base payments on performance. 

Rural doctors and dentists, those who make sacrifices and endure hardships, already underpaid and underappreciated, are angry and are protesting. 

According to the Public Health Ministry’s 2010 figures, in Bangkok the patient/doctor ratio was 1,052 patients per doctor, but nationwide it’s 2,893 patients per doctor – in Chaiyaphum province, 9,794 patients per doctor. The worst ratios are in the Isan region, the Pheu Thai Party’s stronghold. 

If the number stands today (and yes, statistics is a tricky game, so don’t take it too literally) then 1,000 doctors protesting means 2,893,000 patients are without their doctors. The entire situation smells of a failure by the Thai government to provide sufficient healthcare for its citizens. 

Ms Yingluck is not the public health minister and, yes, insufficient healthcare has been a problem since long before she came to office. But she’s the leader now and this sorry, pathetic situation requires the national integrity, character and moral fiber to use the full weight of her authority to make sure that rural doctors and rural people are taken care of. 

If that’s too big of an expectation, too much of a burden, give someone else the job.  

Ms Yingluck, please stay home, the country needs a leader. 

Just over the past week, the controversial lese majeste law once again became a contentious issue that set Thai people at each other's throats. The two-trillion-baht loans bill and charter amendments are also on the minds and the tongues of the Thai people, scared and confused, angry and lost. 

These are problems, in just over a one-week span, that Thailand is facing, a country that continues to suffer crises in social values and national identity, labouring under an atmosphere of mistrust, anger and hatred, looking at an uncertain future that we cannot even legally discuss openly – not to mention the old baggage of corruption and patronage.  

Ms Yingluck, please stay home and be the leader this country needs you to be – the national integrity, character and moral fiber needed – the hope, inspiration and guidance. 

Don’t look to Dubai. You have said, time and time again, you are no puppet. Show it. If that’s too big of an expectation, too much of a burden, give someone else the job.  

Leadership is no ordinary job. You are the elected leader. So be the leader, be extraordinary.

Related search: Opinion, Voranai Vanijaka

About the author

columnist
Writer: Voranai Vanijaka
Position: Political and Social Commentator