Chalerm willing to go it alone

Puea Thai chief MP has plans for new party

Chalerm Yubamrung is threatening to leave the Puea Thai Party and set up his own party if it is not willing to accept his recommendations.

Show of unity Puea Thai Party chiefMPChalerm Yubamrung embraces Mingkwan Saengsuwan, a party list MP, at a wedding party last night for Mr Chalerm’s son, Arthan. Mr Chalerm announced this week he would not take part in a censure debate against the government if it was led by Mr Mingkwan. TAWEECHAI TAWATPAKORN

The party head MP said yesterday he would be left with only two options if Puea Thai rejected his latest proposals: he could either quit politics altogether or form his own party.

If he opted for the latter, the new party would be called the Thang Lueak Mai Party (New Alternative Party).

Thang Lueak Mai’s policy platform would be to reduce political conflicts and seek to bring about reconciliation, the veteran politician said.

Mr Chalerm said he had set three conditions for Puea Thai to consider.

The first was to push fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as the party’s main selling point in campaigning for the general election due this year.

The second was to overhaul Puea Thai’s existing policies, while the third called for the party to revise its list of candidates for seats in Bangkok in the coming election.

Mr Chalerm said only Thaksin, the party’s de facto leader, had the final say on whether to accept his proposals.

The veteran politician warned it would only be possible for Puea Thai to form the next government if it won a landslide majority at the next general election.

He said on Monday he would not take part in a planned censure debate against the government, which would be led by Mingkwan Saengsuwan, a listed MP with the party.

But he was heard last night telling Mr Mingkwan at the wedding of Mr Chalerm’s son, Arthan Yubamrung, at the Centara Grand Hotel in Pathumwan that he was willing to support the debate team.

Another important guest at the wedding of Mr Arthan and Yanaphat Sirorat was Thaksin’s younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra.

It has been widely speculated that she is a potential Puea Thai Party leader.

Ms Yingluck told Mr Chalerm at the wedding that she would turn up on his doorstep to urge him to come back if he ever withdrew from Puea Thai. Mr Chalerm responded by telling reporters Ms Yingluck was a “real executive”.

He said he had worked hard for the party since joining Puea Thai, including supporting its election campaign and guiding new candidates.

Mr Chalerm said he had visited different parts of the country and found Thaksin was still very popular with many people. That was why he had proposed that the party make it policy to help bring the former prime minister back from self-exile abroad and make him the face of Puea Thai’s election effort.

He said he was interested in inviting Chuwit Kamolvisit, a former Chart Thai Party deputy leader and once the country’s biggest massage parlour operator, and famous columnist Nitiphum Navarat to join his new party should he form one.

The two men won a large number of votes when they stood in past elections in Bangkok.

Mr Chalerm would himself run in a Bangkok constituency and expected his party to win at least five seats.

Mr Chuwit attended Mr Arthan’s wedding last night and confirmed he would join the new party if Mr Chalerm decided to go ahead and form one.

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