Suthep breaks promise to exit politics

Suthep breaks promise to exit politics

Tearily takes on post as recruiter for new party

Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary-general of the pre-coup People's Democratic Reform Committee (Bangkok Shutdown of 2013-14), gets teary as he talks about the devotion of PDRC supporters. Right, co-founder Anek Laothamatas outlines the programme of the new Action Coalition for Thailand (ACT) Party, for which Mr Suthep agreed to serve as chairman of the campaign committee. (Photos by Apichit Jinakul)
Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary-general of the pre-coup People's Democratic Reform Committee (Bangkok Shutdown of 2013-14), gets teary as he talks about the devotion of PDRC supporters. Right, co-founder Anek Laothamatas outlines the programme of the new Action Coalition for Thailand (ACT) Party, for which Mr Suthep agreed to serve as chairman of the campaign committee. (Photos by Apichit Jinakul)

Before 1,000 people attending an inaugural event of the Action Coalition for Thailand (ACT) Party on Sunday, Suthep Thaugsuban, former secretary-general of the defunct People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) street protest, admitted he was reneging on his pledge to exit politics by accepting a position as a recruiter and fund-raiser for the ACT.

"I didn't want to be involved with politics. But when brothers and sisters who share the same ideology approached me and told me they were establishing a people's political party, I had to join," he said during his acceptance remarks at Suriyadhep Hall at Rangsit University.

"I will not run for the election. I volunteer to be a slave for the people and serve the people. I will use my 40 years of experience in politics to push and accomplish the establishment of the people's party."

Acknowledging the criticism towards him that he had broken his vow of never returning to politics, Mr Suthep insinuated that he realised that he is twisting his words but he only did so for the good of the country and so doesn't care about criticism.

"I know I am a weak spot of the party because people will say that I broke my vow, but I will stand with my brothers and sisters. I don't care about any criticism or insults. I am volunteering to be the servant of the people," he said amid the cheers of his followers.

Declaring Mr Suthep -- a former secretary-general of the Democrat Party and long-time MP for Surat Thani -- would not take any party executive or political position should the party wins the election, Anek Laothamatas, who has been tipped as a promising candidate for the ACT, said Mr Suthep's position is important.

The party said a general assembly to choose its executives will be held in the next three months. In the meantime, it will recruit members and raise funds for the party.

Mr Suthep also insisted that now it is too early to say whether he and his party will back Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as outsider PM and the stance on this issue will be decided by people who are the members of the party.

Addressing the party's stance on amnesty and 2017 constitution, he said, in contrast to other parties' stances, he opposes an amnesty.

He also stressed that he respects and has no intention to override the current constitution. "I have expressed my stand ever since I was released from the NCPO's attitude adjustment camp on May 22, 2014 that I support Gen Prayut as the PM to solve the country's crisis and introduce reforms according to the will of the PDRC."

He said he has no intention to express his opinion as an individual because he is now a part of the party. Once the NCPO lifts the ban on political activities, he said he will rally, with the same shoes he wore during his efforts to oust the Pheu Thai government.

Meanwhile, Mr Anek said the party, governed by religious ethics and truly owned by the people, is a coalition of citizens that respects and aims to safeguard the monarchy.

The party's main agendas are the prevention and prosecution of corruption, reform in the public sector and the distribution of power, reducing inequality using the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's approach to development, and reform in police and justice system by ensuring that the institutions involved will not become tools of politics.

Suriyasai Katasila, deputy dean of Rangsit University's Social Innovation College and the PDRC's former co-leader, and Thaweesak Na Takuathung, Mr Suthep's lawyer, were also among the co-founders.

Democrat Deputy Party leader Nipit Intarasombat said he welcomed the inauguration of the party. He conceded that it might affect the Democrat Party's seats as the two parties shared the same base of supporters. However, he was glad to learn that Mr Suthep vowed not to recruit former MPs from other parties.

Meanwhile, Chousak Sirinil from the Pheu Thai Party said he admires the spirit of Mr Anek who resigned as chairman of the reform panel on politics to pursue politics full time.


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