Pheu Thai insider says ex-MPs 'hunted'
Urged to defect to Phalang Pracharat
A leading former Pheu Thai MP said Monday that other former party MPs, especially those in the Northeast, the party's main political stronghold, were being approached and urged to defect.
Yutthapong Charasatien, former deputy agriculture minister and former MP for Maha Sarakham, said the other ex-Pheu Thai MPs in the Northeast alone account for as many as 80% of all those who currently rank as members of the party.
"I'd like to warn them to think twice before deciding to leave the Pheu Thai Party because to date it remains highly popular among voters and they continue to have tremendous faith in the party," said Mr Yutthapong.
He said all of those in the Northeast, except for former Khon Kaen MP Nawath Tocharoensuk, had on April 4 affirmed their membership of Pheu Thai.
But a source in the Bhumjaithai Party claimed he had learned that as of Saturday about 24 former MPs and senators, mainly in the Northeast but also in the North, had expressed their intention to defect to Phalang Pracharat, a new party seen as a supporter of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
Phirom Pholwiset, former Bhumjaithai Party MP for Nakhon Ratchasima, said he had yet to decide which party he would eventually align with, but he has in mind an ideal candidate, which he described as a party with strong national development strategies.
Bhumjaithai Party deputy secretary-general Supachai Jaisamut, meanwhile, said he believed Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha would definitely enter politics.
One reason for this, he suggested, was that the NCPO is now concerned its efforts over the past four years may come to naught if it is not permitted to keep pulling the strings as a major political player in the future.
Despite Bhumjaithai insisting the public should play a key role in selecting a new prime minister, Mr Supachai said that should it prove impossible to pick a candidate nominated by the winning parties, Bhumjaithai would not have a problem approving an outsider prime minister as permitted under the constitution.
Warawut Silpa-archa, a core member of the Chartthaipattana Party, said some former MPs from his party, were also being lured away.
However, he said this was not a major concern because it would be balanced by new party members.
In related news, government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the government has not yet revised Gen Prayut's planned visits to the provinces despite growing criticism that he was exploiting these to "soft canvass" ahead of the general election next February.
Lt Gen Sansern said the premier will visit a province at least once a month to follow up on how government policy is being implemented.
A previous plan to visit Sa Kaeo province was called off not because Gen Prayut wanted to avoid escalating criticism over his speculated "hidden" agenda in the planned visit, but because Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen was unable to meet him for a joint ceremony at that time, the spokesman said.