PM scoffs at young Turk challenge

PM scoffs at young Turk challenge

New group to rival old guard yet to register

The prime minister appeared to relish the idea of pitting his experience against the idealism of the so-called 'new generation' politicians. (File photo)
The prime minister appeared to relish the idea of pitting his experience against the idealism of the so-called 'new generation' politicians. (File photo)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has shrugged off talk of young bloods setting up a new political party to challenge regime supporters, saying people should vote for those who will provide good governance.

Speaking after Tuesday's mobile cabinet meeting in Phetchaburi's Cha-am district, Gen Prayut said he did not mind young activists seeking to form parties aimed at catering to younger voters. It is up to the electorate to decide whether to vote for them, he said.

"Just let them do it. But it is up to others to vote for them. Let the people decide whether their policies can be trusted. You must vote for a party that provides good government," Gen Prayut said.

A new party catering to younger voters may be in the pipeline, with its prospective founders promising a radical departure from the old political establishment.

Eyes are now on Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the 39-year-old executive vice-president of the Thai Summit Group, one of the country's largest auto parts makers, who has expressed a desire to form a new party for that purpose.

Mr Thanathorn has said he would wait until the second half of this month before deciding whether to register a party with the Election Commission (EC).

His likely co-founder is 38-year-old Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, a law lecturer at Thammasat University and noted member of the Nitirat group, whose members include progressive law specialists.

Mr Thanathorn is a nephew of former transport minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit, a former member of the defunct Thai Rak Thai Party, which became the People's Power Party before transforming into the current Pheu Thai Party.

Asked to comment on groups seeking to form parties to support him returning as prime minister after the general election, Gen Prayut said he was grateful for their support.

"But no one has approached me yet. I've only heard them speak through the media. But if they do invite me, I still don't know whether I will accept," Gen Prayut said.

Asked about possible criteria for screening parties that support him, he said he had to look at their policies and the credibility of those who form the parties.

Gen Prayut also said that when the ban on political activities is lifted, the government will invite parties to discuss not only the election date, but also budget planning for projects under the government's 20-year national strategy blueprint.

Any party which forms a new government should get a grasp of the national strategy blueprint set out by the current government and the action plans to implement it, the prime minister said.

"We need to talk it through so they will be better prepared and know how things should be carried out," Gen Prayut said.

Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn previously said that a party which submits a list of three prime ministerial candidates must receive consent from the prospective candidates first, while other parties cannot nominate the same candidates.

According to Section 88 of the constitution, before general election campaigns begin, every party must nominate up to three prime ministerial candidates to the EC.

United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship secretary-general Nattawut Saikuar said the UDD was ready to align itself with any group which upholds the principle of democracy and opposes an outsider becoming prime minister.

Mr Nattawut said while the Democrat Party has declared it will not work with Pheu Thai because of their ideological differences, the party has never made it clear that it will not support an outsider prime minister.

But things should become clear after the election, Mr Nattawut said.

On the third day of party registration Tues, two more groups applied to form a party, bringing the number signed up so far to 46.

The 45th registered party -- Thai Tham Party -- comprises doctors and academics.

Anothai Duangdara, who is named as a co-founder, said the new party is ready to support Gen Prayut returning as prime minister after the election.

The 46th party to be registered during the week-long process is called Palang Raeng Ngan Thai Party.

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