Surin red-shirt leader admits he has switched camps

Surin red-shirt leader admits he has switched camps

Theppanom Namlee, now a former red-shirt leader in Surin, admits he has switched camps and joined the Sam Mitr Group. (Photo by Prasit Tangprasert)
Theppanom Namlee, now a former red-shirt leader in Surin, admits he has switched camps and joined the Sam Mitr Group. (Photo by Prasit Tangprasert)

A leading red-shirt in Surin has admitted jumping ship and joining the pro-Prayut leaning Sam Mitr Group (Three Allies), but insisted he will not attack his former boss Thaksin Shinawatra after moving to the new camp.

Theppanom Namlee, who was a key member of  the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship's (UDD) Surin red-shirt group, confirmed on Tuesday that he had joined the newly formed Sam Mitr Group, saying he saw it as having good political ideas about national reconciliation and working for the benefit of the majority.

His admission follows reports that Sam Mitr secretary Pirom Polwiset recently met  UDD sympathisers in the Northeast for an exchange of political views. A list of UDD members at the talks was disclosed. Mr Theppanom's name was on it.

Mr Theppanom said he went to see Mr Pirom because he thought the group had good political concepts  about national reconciliation and a determination to work for the benefit of the majority.

As for Thaksin, the former prime minister was of the past, he said, but still in the hearts of red-shirts nationwide.

The former red-shirt said he had not abandoned Thaksin, but his supporters had to move on, to earn a living to support their families.

He shrugged off claims by Nattawut Saikuar, secretary-general of the UDD, that his Surin group were not real red-shirts.

Mr Natthawut often claimed that he acted in the interests of democracy, Mr Theppanom said. However, Mr Natthawut had never entered an election process to become a UDD leader, like others had.

The UDD secretary-general and other key members appointed themselves to lead the UDD.

Unlike Mr Nathawut, red-shirt leaders in Surin were elected by their 20,000 UDD members. They were not bogus red-shirts, he said.

He said the Sam Mitr Group was not a political group. Its members were ready to support anyone who worked in the best interests of the majority of people become prime minister after the general election. His group was willing to support Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha returning as premier after the polls, he said. 

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