BANGKOK — Veteran politician and former activist Chaturon Chaisang said he is forming a new pro-democracy party independent of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
Chaturon, 64, said on the phone Monday that he decided to reveal his plan after a week of swirling rumors about a politician breaking away from the pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai Party. He said the new party – yet to be named – will include leaders from academic, business, and political backgrounds.
“This is not a branch of [pro-Thaksin camp]. It will be an independent party that is no one’s proxy,” the former justice and education minister said.
Chaturon was a former Communist insurgent in the 1970s, fighting what he believed to be the autocratic governments. He later joined political factions loyal to the Shinawatras, having been a leading member of Thai Rak Thai and Pheu Thai parties.
He was also considered a Prime Minister candidate by the pro-Thaksin Thai Raksa Chart party for the 2019 elections, but the party ended up choosing Princess Ubolratana as their frontrunner. Thai Raksa Chart was later dissolved for allegedly dragging the monarchy into politics.
In today’s interview, Chaturon said he will introduce key members of his new party to the public in June, though formal registration will be completed much later this year.
He also said restrictions under the current Emergency Decree makes his party formation more difficult than it should be; large meetings, for instance, are not allowed under the law.
Although Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup, he remains immensely popular among his supporters, and he remains an influential figure over political groups allied to his political dynasty. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, served as the PM from 2012 to 2014.
Even one of the pro-Thaksin political parties went as far as making its slogan, “Thaksin Thinks, Pheu Thai Does.”
Titipol Phakdeewanich, dean of political science at Ubon Ratchathani University said Monday that it’s a welcoming move to have a new political party, but he warned that emerging from Thaksin’s shadow will not be easy.
“You can’t stop people thinking. In the end, the relationship between Chaturon and Thaksin cannot be fully severed,” the dean said. “In the end, there will be collaborations in a form of a coalition, where they support one another.”
Chaturon is currently on trial for defying PM Prayut Chan-o-cha in the wake of the 2014 coup – the only politician to challenge the junta at the time – by ignoring the summons from the junta.
Instead, he showed up at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand to host a news conference, where he was soon arrested by a group of soldiers.