Suthep to co-found ACT Party

Suthep to co-found ACT Party

Denies he is setting up de facto PDRC

SuthepThaugsuban, former secretary-general of the now-defunct People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) street protest, announced on Saturday he would join as a co-founder of the Ruamphalang Prachachartthai Party, or the Action Coalition for Thailand (ACT).

Ahead of the party's inaugural meeting at Rangsit University on Sunday morning, Mr Suthep, who led the street protests against the Pheu Thai Party-led government that resulted in its downfall in the May 22, 2014 military coup staged by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), called for the people to support this party.

He said he decided to join as he had learned that the founders of the party aim at creating a "people's party" in which the public are the real owners who can choose the party's executive and set the policies.

A merit-based system will be deployed to control the party executive and members.

"Most importantly, they [the co-founders of the ACT] said this party is determined to reform the country according to the people's wish, meaning reform of politics, the system as well as agencies to fight corruption as well as reform of the state administration including decentralisation of power and solving the problem of social disparity," he said.

Mr Suthep announced he would not take any executive position or any political position if the party becomes the government.

Since the May 22, 2014 putsch, Mr Suthep -- who was a secretary-general of the Democrat Party and during the street protest vowed not to run in another election -- has shied away from the political scene.

From time to time he has come out to endorse Gen Prayut to return as prime minister after the general election, though observers say his enthusiasm for the general appears to have tailed off lately.

Political observers believe the ACT Party is likely to be a reincarnation of the PDRC as the involvement of Mr Suthep has largely given the impression that it is "Suthep's Party". However, the former protest firebrand denies it.

"May I tell you here this is not a PDRC party as the PDRC has been defunct since May 22, 2014 when the NCPO took control of the country," he said.

Mr Suthep yesterday delivered a speech at the opening ceremony of the Ruamphalang Prachachartthai Political School organised by the Muan Maha Prachachon Foundation he chairs.

Thaweesak Na Takuathung, Mr Suthep's lawyer, filed an application with the Office of Election Commission late last month to register the party.

The ACT has over 30 co-founders including Thanee Thaugsuban, Mr Suthep's younger brother.

Anek Laothamatas, who is being strongly touted as a candidate to lead the ACT, said on Friday he will resign as chairman of the reform panel on politics to pursue politics full time.

However, he would only consider the ACT leadership after all the party members had convened and voted.

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