PM reaches out on Weibo
What do Yingluck and China have in common? They're getting connected - The pressure is still on for the Democrat Party to take a long, hard look at itself - 'Over my dead body', says Korn Chatikavanij's wife about rumours he met 'the man in Dubai' in Hong Kong
The emergence of social media has played a huge role in addressing the need for networking.
Yingluck: Expanding her social media
Businesses use the system to interact with and influence customers and attract potential customers. Celebrities share images and videos to communicate with fans.
Similarly, politicians are embracing social media with profuse enthusiasm.
The list of social media platforms is overwhelming, with Facebook ranking number one among the Thai public.
Democrat and opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has more than 1 million Facebook followers.
His Facebook account is one of the more dynamic pages with regular updates on the political scene.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is not far behind. Her account, apparently managed by her team, has 700,000 Facebook members following her. Ms Yingluck's team has customised this platform so it can not only share the premier's work schedule but also counter allegations.
Ms Yingluck is, however, taking it a step further than her fellow politicians. Soon she will join the world's third-largest social media site, Weibo _ known as the Twitter of China, where both Twitter and Facebook are blocked.
Media giant Sina Corp, which owns Weibo, has decided to expand its presence to this country and has formed a joint venture to launch Weibo Thailand.
Government spokesman Thossaporn Serirak recently presided over a ceremony to launch the service.
In a speech, he said Weibo Thailand will provide an alternative communication platform for Thai and Chinese businesses to expand their markets.
As of December 2012, Weibo had 503 million users with 47 million daily users, according to the site.
Guo Rui, managing director of Jiaranai Entertainment, said an authorised agent of Weibo in Thailand, the company approached Ms Yingluck three months ago to sign up with Weibo.
However, when Ms Yingluck's account will be ready depends on the readiness of the prime minister's team. But as soon as it is activated, the prime minister will have a chance to reach out to the Chinese people.
The micro-blogging service is not unheard of locally. The site has 800,000 visitors from Thailand, most of whom would appear to be ethnic Chinese living here.
The entertainment industry seems to have been the first to grasp the potential benefits of the Chinese site, because neither Facebook not Twitter can be accessed in China.
A number of entertainment figures have verified Weibo accounts to communicate with their Chinese.
Heart-throb actor Mario Maurer has more than 800,000 followers, while pop star Sukrit ''Bie'' Wisetkaew has 23,000 followers.
Even though she is not the first to jump on the bandwagon, it will be interesting to see how popular Ms Yingluck becomes with her new audience.
Reform rumours split opposition
Restructuring the creaky opposition Democrat Party will be akin to moving mountains, but any change at the top could not be limited to the secretary-general, a reliable party source says.
The idea of a party overhaul has been around for some time. It was expected that after the Democrats secured victory in the March 3 Bangkok governor election, a wind of change would start blowing.
However, until now things have remained as placid as they have ever been at the country's oldest political party.
Alongkorn: Vocal on need for change
But some party insiders are growing impatient and are not about to let executives get away with doing nothing to shake up the party.
Democrat deputy leader Alongkorn Ponlaboot, who is typically reserved in his comments about the party, has been vocal of late in stressing the urgent need for reform, and that internal changes are only a matter of time.
Mr Alongkorn's public remarks are being taken by observers as a sign of discontent brewing within the party and which might be hard to put a lid on.
But Mr Alongkorn was rebuked by party chief adviser Chuan Leekpai for parading a politically strategic issue which should be kept within party walls.
Nonetheless, some supporters agree party reform is in order, and the sooner the better.
They insist that if the Democrat Party were a rose, it would be wilting.
Social critic Sulak Sivaraksa has gone further with his comparison of the Democrats as being the ''dark of night''.
The observers said Mr Alongkorn spoke for many party members and executives with his reform rhetoric.
The party source said one group of Democrat members favours the replacement of party secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on who, in their view, has proved ''inadequate'' in driving the party's public relations forward or managing its administrative affairs.
Mr Chalermchai, reportedly hand-picked by party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, is seldom reported about or seen in public.
A new secretary-general must be someone who can streamline the Democrats' profile and ''repackage'' the party.
The party source added the party leader himself will have to get serious about the business of internal reform and start cracking the whip, or he could find himself in the hot seat.
Suthep Thaugsuban, Mr Chalermchai's predecessor, feels Mr Abhisit should remain where he is to keep up the image of a party leader who is educated and honest.
However, Mr Suthep insists the party needs a new secretary-general who is accessible, skilled in coordination, down-to-earth and reliable, said the source.
Tea for two, but not with Thaksin
Somsak Thepsuthin's recent remarks that a key opposition politician recently flew to Hong Kong to meet ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra put Democrat Party deputy leader Korn Chatikavanij instantly on guard.
Mr Somsak made his comment to reporters earlier this week, although he did not say who that Democrat was.
The Facebook account of Thaksin's son, Panthongtae, ran the story about the alleged meeting, placing Mr Korn's picture alongside it.
The revelation about the alleged meeting between the ousted premier and Mr Korn was treated with contempt by Democrat members.
Korn: Saw Thaksin from afar
Mr Korn, in particular, laughed the matter off, saying any supposed meeting with Thaksin would have been filled with silence because he would have absolutely nothing to say to the former prime minister.
Mr Somsak's revelation, according to some political watchers, was made to humiliate the Democrats by creating an illusion of the main opposition party trying to reach out to Thaksin, the de facto leader of the ruling Pheu Thai Party.
Mr Somsak, a senior member of the Wang Nam Yom faction in the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party, is known to have close ties with Thaksin's sister Yaowapa Wongsawat.
Though he now leads the Matchima faction in the opposition Bhumjaithai Party, his relations with the ruling party, a reincarnation of Thai Rak Thai, remain cosy.
The story of the Hong Kong meeting also described how the Democrat politician had been in contact with Thaksin not once, but on several occasions.
Mr Korn, clearly, was not going to take the allegation lying down. However, it was his wife,Vorakorn, who best countered the allegation on her own Facebook page.
Mrs Vorakorn fired back at Mr Panthongtae's posting, staunchly dismissing Mr Somsak's claim. She said it was not remotely possible for her husband to have gone and met Thaksin without her knowledge. He would only do so ''over my dead body'', she wrote.
At first, many people and political pundits thought the opposition politician in question might be Bhumjaithai leader Anuthin Charnvirakul.
It is well known that cabinet ministers, government MPs, high-ranking officials, businessmen and political activists regularly fly to Hong Kong to see Thaksin.
But Mr Korn later explained on his own Facebook page that he and his wife were recently having tea at the InterContinental Hotel in the territory while Thaksin was receiving guests at the same time at the same hotel.
He spotted Thaksin meeting politicians and supporters from afar.
However, he and Thaksin never met in person. Nor was he staying at the hotel.
He and his wife left the hotel after the tea.
Mr Korn said he phoned Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva to tell him he had seen Thaksin from a distance.