(24 September) The Democrat Party has unveiled a parallel plan for the government′s infrastructure overhaul in a bid to claim a better, more original alternative – only to end up in a controversy in which the Democrats are now being accused of copying the government project logo.
The Democrat Party is vehemently opposed to the government′s plan to invest in massive transportation projects which include a high speed rail service. The plan is being debated in Parliament.
If the plan – named ?Building Thailand′s Future 2020? – were to go ahead, the Thai government would be bound to borrow 2.2 trillion baht to fund the projects.
The Democrats warn Thailand would be enslaved by this debt and the project would invite an unprecedented amount of corruption. The party later released its own draft of the project in a press conference, which they claim contain more transparency and is more financially-sound.
However, the parallel plan ?Building Future of Strong Thailand 2020? became controversial from the outset, as many on the social network point out that its logo strongly resembles the emblem earlier adopted by the governmental project.
The incident was quickly seized by supporters of the government to hammer their accusation that the Democrat Party is a hypocrite who constantly criticised much of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra′s populist policies, yet implemented them later when the party is in power.
"They always copy everything, even the logo!" said one netizen.
Mr. Prompong Nopparit, spokesman of Pheu Thai Party, offered his thanks to the Democrat Party for suggesting a few improvements to the government-sponsored infrastructure project, but faulted the opposition for offering "nothing concrete".
"If Mr. Abhisit insists his project is better," said Mr. Prompong, referring to Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, the head of Democrat Party, "why are his feelings so delayed? He spent 2 years as [a Prime Minister] but did not implement the project".
Mr. Prompong also dismissed the Democrat Party′s parallel plan as a political maneuver designed to discredit the government. "But such a delayed proposal only serves to expose the failure of the Democrat Party", concluded Mr. Prompong.
Meanwhile, Ms. Jarupan Kuldilok, a Pheu Thai MP, said the Democrats had announced the project only to "distract" attention of the public in an attempt to steal the credit for the infrastructure overhaul from the government.
"But let me stress that the people remember well which government is more productive," said Ms. Jaruwan, "They might think Thai people are forgetful, but the truth is, they remember who did what. They remember that policies of the Democrat Party is like those of students copying their friends? homework".
Later yesterday, Mr. Abhisit and other leaders of the Democrat Party hosted a press conference to clarify the matter. Mr. Abhisit repeated the defence for his parallel project, insisting that it would save more taxpayers? money and reduce chances of corruption.
"But if the government refuses these proposals, our party will implement them once the people offered us the chance to come back as the government again in the future," said Mr. Abhisit.
Asked why he did not advance the project during his tenure as the Prime Minister, Mr. Abhisit replied he had been studying about its possibilities and was forced to abandon the plan when Ms. Yingluck came to power.
Speaking next to Mr. Abhisit, Mr. Passanoch Haotavanij, a Democrat official, said he was one who designed the logo. According to Mr. Passanoch, the resemblance is intended to convey a message that the government′s infrastructure plan is in fact built upon the foundation pioneered by Mr. Abhisit′s administration.
"I did not copy their logo. It′s actually the government who copied ours", Mr. Passanoch said.