Yingluck Shinawatra, youngest sister of ousted former Thai PM Thaksin, is officially endorsed by opposition to be their prime ministerial candidate

Olarn Lertrattanadamrongkul & Jeerapong Prasertpholkrang

The Nation (Thailand)

Publication Date : 17-05-2011

Weeks of speculation ended yesterday (May 16) when Yingluck Shinawatra, youngest sister of ousted former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, won official endorsement from opposition Pheu Thai to be the party's prime ministerial candidate.
The 43-year-old business executive and mother of one, then responded to concerns was she is simply a puppet for her elder brother.
She said it was too soon to comment on how she planned to bring about a return of Thaksin, the party's de-facto leader. People would first have to see who won the majority of votes in the general election on July 3.
However, she affirmed that should Pheu Thai form the next government, everyone would receive equal treatment under the law.
When asked about the possibility of Thaksin getting a pardon, Yingluck said Thailand maintained the rule of law. Hence she believed Pheu Thai would not allow anything to be done merely for the sake of one person.

If it were in power, whatever action the party took, it would adhere to the principles of the people's equity and freedoms, she said.
Yingluck insisted she had volunteered to do the top job for the sake of the people, and that she must therefore prioritise benefits for the people.
Asked whether she thought Thaksin's ideas and guidelines for Pheu Thai would lead to the party winning a landslide victory on July 3, she replied that her brother was a man with many good ideas, so it was normal that the party should be open to such ideas.
Emphasising that Pheu Thai would always be open to good ideas, wherever they originated, she said those ideas would be considered by the party as to whether it would implement them, and the results would then be judged by the people.
Talking about reconciliation in the face of current conflicts, Yingluck said she believed everyone wanted to see the country reconciled.
Having had some political experience, she said would use her femininity in taking steps towards reconciliation, and would be willing to exchange ideas and negotiate in order to achieve this goal. She said it was time to overcome conflicts so that the country could move forward again.
Asked whether there would be any problem working for her brother, she said she believed Thais decided which party to vote for partly because of its leader and partly because of its policies.
She said she was confident that Pheu Thai still had a policy that was committed to benefiting the people, and that this would be a major positive factor in its chance at the polls.
Pheu Thai's afternoon meeting, chaired by the party's non-MP leader Yongyuth Wichaidit, voted unanimously to support Yingluck as the No-1 candidate on its party-list, and therefore its candidate for the premiership.

Witthaya Buranasiri, a senior Pheu Thai figure, nominated Yingluck as the party's PM candidate during the meeting. There were no other nominations.
Yingluck arrived at the party's headquarters shortly before 2:30pm, after the vote took place, and was greeted by senior figures and incumbent MPs at the front gate. She was later taken to the seventh floor, where she joined a party meeting. She looked tense at the time and was minus her usual smile.
The moment she entered the meeting room, Yingluck was greeted with loud applause by Pheu Thai's politicians. She went to the podium, where she thanked colleagues for placing her top of the Pheu Thai party-list. She also thanked them for their trust and expressed her readiness to help bring about national reconciliation, vowing not to take revenge against anyone.
Yingluck, a former top executive in the family business empire, said she did not think being a woman was a disadvantage. She said she would focus on economic recovery and improving people's well-being.
Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit tried to dismiss a perception Thaksin had something to do with the decision, saying the choice of Yingluck had been a matter for participants at the meeting. He insisted there had been no outside interference.
The former premier, who escaped a prison term by fleeing overseas, is widely believed to be pulling the strings behind Pheu Thai. He has often issued instructions regarding party affairs during his video-link addresses and, recently, via Skype Internet-based phone calls to party meetings.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who is the Democrat Party leader, congratulated Yingluck on being selected as Pheu Thai's PM candidate. He said the voters would soon decide whether she was to become the country's first female prime minister, as has been forecast by some fortune-tellers.
Deputy Premier Suthep Thaugsuban, in his capacity as the Democrats' secretary-general, said he believed the voters would choose the best person to become PM without looking at the candidates' gender.
Suthep said that between Abhisit and Yingluck, he was convinced the Democrat leader would have an advantage as he had proved his capability as the government head in dealing with the country's crises over the past two years.

"It will be difficult for people to imagine how Khun Yingluck, as prime minister, will solve the country's problems. She may have to listen to distant telephone calls for advice on what to do. This will be like shadow puppetry."
Siripan Noksuan Sawasdee, a political-science lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, warned that the Democrat Party should be careful about attacking Yingluck. She said unfair, serious allegations levelled against Yingluck could backfire and result in sympathy votes for Thaksin's sister.
Yingluck, who turns 44 next month, is the youngest of Thaksin's eight siblings. She married without changing her family name and has a son.


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