Pheu Thai: No deals if we meet poll target

Pheu Thai: No deals if we meet poll target

Party wants to avoid working with 'dictatorial' wing, says leader Cholnan

Pheu Thai Party's leader Cholnan Srikaew meets party members at its general assembly on March 9. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Pheu Thai Party's leader Cholnan Srikaew meets party members at its general assembly on March 9. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The Pheu Thai Party has promised a three-year debt moratorium to farmers while reiterating it will not join hands with the ruling Palang Pracharath Party in forming the next government should it meet its House seat target.

The party on Sunday held a campaign rally in Phitsanulok, where its leader Cholnan Srikaew; Paetongtarn Shinawatra, Pheu Thai's chief adviser on public participation and innovation and head of the "Pheu Thai Family"; and Srettha Thavisin, real estate tycoon and Ms Paetongtarn's chief adviser, took to the stage.

Ms Paetongtarn, the youngest daughter of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, told supporters in Bang Rakam district that if the party was elected to lead the next government, it would alleviate the staggering debts which are holding back farmers nationwide.

The party would begin with approving a three-year debt moratorium, to be followed by measures to introduce new technology to assist the farm sector in improving soil to make it arable, which would increase crop yields and overall productivity.

In addition, the party would revive the Bang Rakam model launched in 2012, under which water management is planned to prevent flooding in low-lying areas that sit between the Yom and Nan rivers.

Parts of these areas will be used to retain overflow, especially from the Yom River, the only major river in the North where a dam has not been built.

Ms Paetongtarn added the model also calls for canals to be widened to hasten the flow of water from Nan River into the Yom River to keep water from being retained in adjacent agricultural areas for too long.

Mr Srettha, meanwhile, said Pheu Thai has what it takes to usher in changes for the better.

Hitting the campaign trail alongside Ms Paetongtarn for the first time, he said Pheu Thai must win at least 310 MP seats out of the 500 at stake. "It's time to take a hard look at the past eight years and decide if we've had enough," he said, referring to the government under Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

"There's no room for second thoughts about splitting votes. There are no brother or sister parties," he said.

In the next election, each voter is given two ballots, one for electing a constituency MP and the other a party list MP. Pheu Thai has campaigned against "vote sharing" where supporters choose the party's constituency MP candidate and vote for list MP candidate of another party.

The party has insisted it must gain MPs via both ballots if it is to win the next poll by a landslide. The Pheu Thai has revised up its MP target, from 250 House seats to 310.

Also on the campaign stage, Dr Cholnan said the party needs to achieve an outright victory to prevent the coup-appointed Senate from having a decisive role in co-electing a prime minister, which would raise the possibility of Gen Prayut returning to power and carrying on as premier for another two years.

"If we can get to 310 House seats, we will not join forces with Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, deputy prime minister and leader of the PPRP leader, [in forming the next government]," he said.

Dr Cholnan insisted Pheu Thai will not form a government with parties in the so-called "dictatorial" wing, among them the PPRP and the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party of which Gen Prayut is a member.

Also on Sunday, UTN leader Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said the party will unveil more policies in the weeks to come. But before the policies are announced, the party would consult with Gen Prayut who chairs the UTN's policy and strategy.

PM's Office Minister Thanakorn Wangboonkong­chana, also executive of the UTN's policy committee, said the party will launch major rallies starting next month.

The party's policies include increasing the benefits of welfare cardholders, giving cardholders access to emergency loans of up to 10,000 baht per person and pushing up the old-age allowance to 1,000 baht a month.

Social security members will be able to withdraw up to 30% of their contribution to the old-age fund. The party also offers a tax rebate to companies which employ elderly people while also reducing the cost of farming.

The laws will be amended to prevent eviction and the Khon La Khrueng co-payment scheme under an economic stimulus programme will be enhanced, he said.

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