Former ministers attack govt they served as they join Pheu Thai Party
Two leaders of the Sam Mitr political faction applied to join the opposition Pheu Thai Party on Thursday and accused the government they had been part of for four years of causing the country’s economy to collapse.
The structure of Thailand’s economy “has fully collapsed”, former industry minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit told reporters at the head office of Pheu Thai as he and former justice minister Somsak Thepsutin applied to join the party.
Somsak’s wife Anongwan Thepsutin accompanied the pair so that she could also register as a member of the party.
The three were welcomed by Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew and senior members of the party.
Cholnan said Pheu Thai was happy to welcome Somsak and Suriya back, saying they shared the same ideology as the party since the time they worked with its predecessor Thai Rak Thai.
Cholnan said Somsak and Suriya have served in several Cabinet posts and impressed the people with their many achievements.
He blamed “distorted election rules” for forcing Somsak and Suriya to join the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) and support former coup leader General Prayut Chan-o-cha as the prime minister after the 2019 election.
Somsak, Suriya and PM’s Office Minister Nakasai lead the Sam Mitr, or Three Friends, faction. It joined the PPRP for the 2019 election. Anucha previously defected from the PPRP to join Prayut’s United Thai Nation Party.
Somsak and Suriya resigned from Prayut’s Cabinet on March 17, announcing that they would run in the upcoming election as Pheu Thai candidates.
Suriya will be assigned to oversee the party’s overall election strategy while Somsak will be in charge of leading the election campaign in the southern provinces, Cholnan said.
Somsak will help Pheu Thai win up to 10 seats in the South, Cholnan said. The party previously targeted one seat in the region.
Somsak expressed confidence that his return to Pheu Thai would help it reach its goal of a landslide victory.
“It is almost certain or 99.99% certain,” Somsak said. “This is because the people accept the team of Pheu Thai, which I belong to.”
“The country has suffered severe damage and the people have wasted a lot of time. I would like to thank Pheu Thai for accepting me as a member again. And I hope I have a chance to help the party become the hope of the people … and help it reach its landslide goal.”
Suriya thanked Pheu Thai for accepting him back and said he decided to rejoin the party “because the structure of the country’s economy has fully collapsed”.
The eight years of Prayut’s leadership severely damaged the Thai economy, he said.
“During the first four years after the coup, the administration was not accepted by foreign investors, so Thailand lost a lot of opportunities. For the last four years, the PPRP did not win enough MPs, so it had to share economic ministries with several coalition partners. This caused the government to lack enough power to solve economic issues. The ruling PPRP had to compromise with partners that demanded a budget to promote their own policies. As a result, the government could not solve economic problems,” Suriya said.
He said Thailand’s GDP growth was among the lowest in Asean and that this was proof the economy was damaged by the PPRP-led government.
Pheu Thai needs to win in a landslide to be able to solve economic problems, so he and Somsak decided to join the Pheu Thai to help it achieve this goal, Suriya said.
Only Pheu Thai’s “Think Big, Act Smart” policies can revive Thailand’s economy, he said.
Almost 10 million farmers have suffered from an inefficient administration that caused the prices of crops to drop and only Pheu Thai’s policies address the issue, Suriya said.
“Several people who are close to me whispered to me to switch parties. All of my friends told me not to stay with the same party,” Suriya said. “With Pheu Thai’s policies, I believe we’ll definitely win a landslide victory.”