Politicians Greet Princess Nomination With Notable Silence

Future Forward Party leaders Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, front left, and Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, speak at a Friday evening news conference in Bangkok.
Future Forward Party leaders Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, front left, and Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, speak at a Friday evening news conference in Bangkok.

BANGKOK — There was a sudden silence across most of the political spectrum Friday after a royal nomination left a smoking crater in everyone’s election plans.

Several political parties have chosen to remain silent or dissemble in response to this morning’s shocking nomination of Ubolratana Mahidol, daughter of the late king, to the post of prime minister.

Katerut Laothamatas of the pro-establishment Action Coalition of Thailand declined to comment when reached by phone this afternoon, saying that the party had yet to discuss the matter. He wouldn’t say if there were any plans to do so.

After nominating Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha this afternoon as his party’s candidate, Uttama Saowanayon of the Phalang Pracharat Party also declined to talk about Ubolratana.

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-Ngam said at the Government House this morning he likewise had “no comment.” Asked if he was surprised by the news, he replied “Are you?”

The deputy leader of Thailand’s oldest party was also reticent.

Nipit Intarasombat of the Democrat wouldn’t give a specific response in a phone interview, saying “It’s still too premature. We’ll wait until the dust settles first.”

One of Thailand’s newest and most progressive parties reiterated its central goal of ending dictatorship along with its desire to see its leader become prime minister. But at an evening news conference, Future Forward party leaders backed off from what had been their litmus for any nominee, that they must have been elected by the people.

“If she passes the qualifications set by the [Election Commission], she has the right to run,” Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit said at an evening news conference.

The party refused to answer directly whether it might join cause with Thai Raksa Chart or others to form a coalition government, and instead promoted itself as a political alternative even as it risks being overtaken by developments.

Thanathorn otherwise framed Ubolratana’s entry in positive terms.

“What happened this morning resets the equation. It’s no longer about yellow vs. red and opens the opportunity for the people to choose their sides anew,” he said, referring to the past decade-plus of factional strife.

LIVE: Future Forward Party responds to nomination of princess

โพสต์โดย Khaosod English เมื่อ วันศุกร์ที่ 8 กุมภาพันธ์ 2019


Action Coalition’s Suthep Thaugsuban, who helped bring down the last government, said at a rally in Nakhon Phanom that the party would respect the will of the people.

“Our party is a party for the commoners, founded to solve commoners’ problems. … We will follow our policies no matter what other parties are doing. We believe the people will choose the right path for the country.”

Even more parties made clear they would not challenge Ubolratana.

Another party affiliated with Thai Raksa Chart, the Pheu Chart Party, also did not nominate a candidate today. Pheu Chart is led by prominent Redshirt Jatuphon Phromphan and had been expected to nominate a former lawmaker. They joined at least one other party in declining to field a candidate.

Yet the morning’s second surprise was junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha’s decision to throw his hat in the ring, something that had been all but certain just days ago prior to Ubolratana’s candidacy.

One note of dissent to her ascension came from a royalist party hours after her nomination. The head of the People’s Reform Party submitted a legal challenge demanding election officials reject her candidacy, saying the monarchy was sacred and should remain above politics.

In a message posted later to Instagram, Ubolratana seemed to offer reply, saying she had relinquished all of her royal titles decades ago and was legally a commoner.