Former PM Chavalit turns 90, unveils new party
Former prime minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who celebrated his 90th birthday on Sunday, has confirmed he is setting up a political party.
Saying he remains physically fit, the ex-premier said he has accepted an invitation to serve as an adviser to seven parties and it is time establish his own political outfit.
He plans to name it the "Siam Civilize Party", after "Siam Civilize Foundation" that he chairs.
However, Gen Chavalit said he has no ambition to run for prime minister and will not be the party leader. Instead, he will be look for a potential candidate to work for the party and the people.
"I'm concerned about the country. How can I not be? The country is deep trouble and people are left with debts," he said, declining to comment on how well he believes Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-chan is managing national affairs.
When asked about political developments including the Pheu Thai Party's hopes of clinching a landslide victory in the general election and the likely successor to Gen Prayut if he is forced to leave office before his term ends, Gen Chavalit said it does not matter as long as people come first.
On speculation about a coup to defuse potential political chaos, he said he has no concern about military intervention and he may even support it if it is for the people's good.
Army chief Gen Narongpan Jitkaewtae recently dismissed any coup speculations.
Among the well-wishers who showed up at his residence in Bangkok yesterday were Korn Dabbaransi who served in his cabinet and his former close aides, Gen Wichit Yathip and Maj Gen Sornchai Montriwat.
Gen Chavalit, also known as Big Jiew, resigned as the army chief and supreme commander in 1990 to enter politics and form the now-defunct New Aspiration Party (NAP) to pursue his political ambitions.
He was among key political figures who joined the May 1992 popular uprising against coup leader Gen Suchinda Kraprayoon. The NAP won the 1996 election which saw him become the country's 22nd prime minister.
However, Gen Chavalit stepped down as prime minister the following year after the economic crisis before switching to the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai in 2001. He served as a deputy prime minister in the first Thaksin administration.
After the 2006 coup, Gen Chavalit offered to mediate between anti- and pro-Thaksin camps, calling his role the "middle ring of a chain". Rumours spread that he would become leader of the People Power Party (PPP), a reincarnation of the Thai Rak Thai, but late politician Samak Sundaravejtook the helm.
Gen Chavalit served as a deputy prime minister in the Somchai administration but quit after a police crackdown on People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) demonstrators outside parliament.