Red-shirt bosses take aim at Sam Mitr

Red-shirt bosses take aim at Sam Mitr

UDD says democratic principles at stake

Nattawut Saikuar (left) and other members of the red shirts' political front, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), claim the so-called Sam Mitr Group is using dirty tricks to try to lure Pheu Thai and UDD supporters to the pro-military party. (File photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)
Nattawut Saikuar (left) and other members of the red shirts' political front, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), claim the so-called Sam Mitr Group is using dirty tricks to try to lure Pheu Thai and UDD supporters to the pro-military party. (File photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)

Red-shirt leaders have slammed suspected efforts by the Sam Mitr Group (Three Allies) to poach their members to support Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha returning as premier after the next election.

Nattawut Saikuar, secretary-general of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD),  said Monday that key UDD figures and members are free to join any party, and are still considered as UDD members as long as the parties they join uphold the principle of democracy.

But if the parties the members subscribe to turn their back on democratic principles, then they are no longer part of the UDD, Mr Nattawut said.

He was responding to a move by Pirom Polwiset, secretary to the Sam Mitr group, who recently met with UDD sympathisers in the Northeast to exchange views on how to achieve national reconciliation. The trip was seen by many as an effort to poach them from the UDD.

Mr Pirom is a former MP for Nakhon Ratchasima who used to belong to the now-dissolved People Power Party, which has since been reincarnated as Pheu Thai.

The group is viewed as the regime's recruiting arm, established to court former MPs, particularly from Pheu Thai, to the Phalang Pracharath Party to support Gen Prayut's potential return as premier.

"You must think again if you expect those who fought side by side with the UDD to be part of a plot to back the regime to cling on to power.

"It will not be easy for politicians in the Sam Mitr Group to break us [the UDD] up," Mr Nattawut said, adding that those who turn their back on democracy would receive a painful lesson from the people.

Kosol Pattama, a former Pheu Thai MP for Nakhon Ratchasima, said he doubted if those approached by Mr Pirom were real UDD leaders or members.

UDD members are advocates of democracy and they should make their own decision about whether to join a party supporting the regime to hold on to power which goes against the UDD's principles, Mr Kosol said.

Somphote Prasartthai, a key figure in the UDD's Nakhon Ratchasima chapter, said the UDD's branches in Isan are still loyal to Pheu Thai, adding that those who met with Mr Pirom were only the red-shirt rank and file, not the key figures.

Even if some might want to become part of Sam Mitr, they are only pursuing personal gains, Mr Somphote said, adding that some former Pheu Thai MPs are defecting to other parties because Pheu Thai is now focusing mainly on recruiting new-generation politicians, leaving little room for older politicians to thrive.

Also Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam dismissed reports that a mobile cabinet meeting scheduled for July 23-24 in Ubon Ratchathani and Amnat Charoen aims to woo politicians in the Northeast into the regime's fold.

Mr Wissanu said mobile cabinet meetings work for the benefit of national administration and the government wants to follow up on state measures to solve local problems.


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