Korn's daring plan for change
The Kla Party may be a minnow now, but the former Democrat MP has high hopes for his new party
Korn Chatikavanij has declared he is ready to chart a new course in politics by vowing to start out his newly-founded Kla Party ("Dare") on a small scale and refusing to tread the same path as other parties.
In an exclusive interview with the Bangkok Post, Mr Korn said that with his political career spanning 15 years, he has taken note of the challenges facing the country.
By forming his own party, he trusted he could do more as a politician than he did with the Democrat Party which he left in January.
During his time in the Democrats, he vied for the party leadership but lost to Jurin Laksanawisit, the deputy premier and commerce minister, who filled a vacancy for the top post left by Abhisit Vejjajiva in the aftermath of the March 24 election last year.
Mr Korn reportedly found himself consigned to a "limited role" in the party. At 56, time is not on Mr Korn's side and he decided he would not remain with the party just for the sake of keeping his status as an MP.
Leaving the Democrats and taking on a new political venture became his aim. He figured a new party would see him emerge from the shadow that enveloped him while he was with the Democrats.
The new party would also bring about new opportunities and let him manage his own agenda in politics.
Mr Korn said Kla's inception on Feb 14 instantly prompted speculation as to its purpose. Its formation preceded the censure debate against the government which was expected to be followed by a cabinet reshuffle. Mr Korn was presumed to be pencilled in for a seat in the new cabinet.
Also, the party's birth came shortly before the Constitutional Court-ordered dissolution of the Future Forward Party (FFP).
Speculation was rife that since the 65 FFP MPs who survived the party's disbandment were free to find a new home within 60 days, some of them might be welcomed into Kla's fold.
However, Mr Korn put to rest both ideas. He insisted it would have been easy for him to join the ruling Palang Pracharath Party and wait for a chance to be a cabinet minister.
"But that's not me," he said. "If I was handed a cabinet portfolio, it would be denying myself a push for political change.
"I choose to do what I know to be of optimum benefit for the country's politics, which is to offer people an alternative [in the form of a new party]."
Many people feel there is not a single party out there which can cater to their needs.
"I took stock of that," he said.
Mr Korn describes Kla as a start-up party founded on the concept that it needs to work fast to keep abreast with the changing world. The party is governed by the principles of meritocracy rather than theory.
A growing number of people were seeking out an alternative party unbound by political and social conflicts.
Kla comes with the offer of a pragmatic approach guided by a "design-thinking" concept where it studies the facts behind the problems and tailors solutions without being pulled to the left or right, he explained.
"The party creates a platform that allows people with experience and expertise in today's world to run it.
"We must have hopes which can be realised by getting down to work," he said, referring to Kla's hashtag motto.
Kla convened its general assembly on Saturday where it elected Mr Korn as leader and Atavit Suwannapakdee as its secretary-general.
The party also unveiled its underlying goals to uphold the nation, religion and monarchy and the constitutional monarchy, to adopt pragmatism guided by moral integrity and lead the country to advancements while being responsive to global changes and challenges, to follow a free and socially responsible economy and work towards the happy coexistence of people.
Mr Korn said the party has no policy to accept MPs from the dissolved FFP.
"We've never been through an election and how could we explain the oddity of suddenly having MPs under our belt?
"Kla was not set up to seek out or be a fall-back outfit for any existing MPs," he added.
Mr Korn was confident his party will win up to 25 MPs in the next poll which would be enough for it to nominate a prime ministerial candidate.
In the meantime, Kla might consider fielding a candidate in the Bangkok governor race later this year if it will help the party's chance in the general election, according to Mr Korn.
He said the party does not see the point of running at all elections. Kla may have limited resources compared to bigger parties but still stands to win MP seats.