Chuan won't return to lead Democrats
Former boss vows to back contest winner
Democrat chief adviser Chuan Leekpai reiterated on Thursday he will not vie for the party leadership in the run-up to the general election. Instead, he said he will do his best to help the party achieve electoral success.
The 79-year-old Democrat's remark came as the party gears for a leadership contest possibly under a new selection system where registered party members get to nominate candidates for the general meeting to vote.
His potential return as leader emerged in May when Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad returned to power and became the world's oldest elected premier at the age of 92.
Mr Chuan strongly rejected any possibility of him returning as Democrat leader and gave reassurances that he would support whoever was selected as party leader.
He also said widespread reports about potential candidates who might challenge present leader, Abhisit Vejjajiva, showed that the party was not owned by any groups or individuals.
He added that even former Democrat member Alongkorn Ponlaboot, who admitted that he was considering running for the party leadership, was welcome to join the race.
Mr Abhisit said yesterday that the party will hold a general meeting to revise regulations to introduce primary voting in the party leader selection process within 10 days of the political ban being lifted.
He said he was unperturbed by speculation that he might be ousted, and that if he loses the race, he would continue to work for the party and support the new leadership.
Asked about a regulation which states that leadership candidates must have been party members for at least five years, he said non-members can enter the race if they are endorsed by three-quarters of the voters at the general meeting.
He insisted the party leadership is open to everyone.
Former Democrat MP for Songkhla, Thaworn Senneam, yesterday refused to comment on media reports that he was preparing to nominate ex-MP for Phitsanulok Warong Dechgitvigrom as a candidate for party leader.
He said it was too early to discuss the matter and would not say anything until Mr Abhisit officially announces the party leader selection process.
Former Democrat secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban yesterday denied he was trying to meddle in the internal affairs of his old party after being linked to a bid to nominate Mr Warong as party leader.
Mr Suthep, who co-founded the Ruamphalang Prachachartthai Party or Action Coalition for Thailand (ACT), said he only has associations with the ACT and that he intends to make it the people's party.
He also said he is the only leader of the now-dissolved People's Democratic Reform Committee movement who has joined the ACT.
"Even though several former Democrat MPs who joined the protest have decided to return to their party, it doesn't mean I can meddle with that party's internal affairs. Some [other protest leaders] have joined the government, but that doesn't mean I will get involved with the government," he said.
Mr Suthep said political reform is his goal and it is time to create a political party that truly serves the people.
"The people must take charge," he said.
"They are not just participants. They must take matters into their own hands and politicians are there to serve them," Mr Suthep added.
Meanwhile, Pheu Thai Party member, Anusorn Iamsa-ard, said on Thursday the public was left with two choices following Mr Abhisit's remarks about the possibility of the party working with a pro-regime one after the election.
He was referring to an interview in which the Democrat leader said if his party did not win a majority of seats in the Lower House, it would not work with a military-backed party.