Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bhum Jai Thai Defections to Puea Thai

The Nation reported on November 8, 2012 that seven MPs from the second largest opposition party, Bhum Jai Thai (BJT), may defect to the ruling Puea Thai party. The seven MPs come from the Matchima faction in BJT, which is led by Somsak Thepsuthin. 

Somsak, 57, is a native of Sukhothai province in the lower north. Somsak's participation in politics goes back to the 1980s, though it was not until the 1992 post-coup government - led by coup-maker himself Gen. Suchinda Kraprayoon - that Somsak received his first cabinet post as a Deputy Public Health Minister. After Suchinda's fall from power, Somsak held deputy ministerial posts in the Chuan Leekpai, Banharn Silp-archa and Chavalit Yongchaiyudh governments. 

In the early 2000s, Somsak was a power wielder in Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party before the courts dissolved it after the 2006 coup and banned 111 of its members for five years, including Somsak. In TRT, Somsak, along with Suriya Junrungruengkit, led a faction called Wang Nam Yom, which included more than 100 MPs. During the Thaksin administrations, Somsak served as a Deputy Prime Minister, Labor Minister, Agriculture Minister, Tourism and Sports Minister, Industry Minister and Prime Minister's Office Minister.

After the coup, Somsak, while still under the five-year ban - set up the Matchimathipatai party, which won a meager seven seats in the 2007 election. Nevertheless, the party managed to join the ruling coalition led by TRT's reincarnation party - Palang Prachachon (PPP). In December 2008, the Constitutional Court - in what many observers called a "judicial coup" - dissolved the PPP, Chart Thai and Matchimathipatai, forcing the party's MPs to seek a new party - Bhum Jai Thai (BJT). 

On December 15, 2008, BJT - nothing more than an agglomeration of former PPP factions - with Newin Chidchob's "Friends of Newin" faction at the head - betrayed Thaksin and PPP's new Puea Thai (PT) party by voting for the Democrat party's Abhisit Vejjajiva to replace court-ousted PPP PM Somchai Wongsawat. The shift from the Thaksin camp to the Democrats reportedly came at the pressure of the army chief Anupong Paochinda, who met with the various political stakeholders before Newin's game-changer. Newin may have also harbored his own agenda. 

In the 2011 election, Matchima remained with BJT, but the party only won 34 seats, leaving it in the opposition camp with the Democrats. Ever since, there have been rumors that parts or all of BJT would eventually fold back into PT. 

Now back to the details of the deal. According to the The Nation:
"In the initial agreement, Somsak and Anucha Nakasai, both former Thai Rak Thai executives, would first join Puea Thai as members, paving the way for the seven MPs to join the party when a chance permits. The laws do not allow MPs to switch parties during their term or they will lose their status. 
As part of the agreement, Yaowapa would nominate Somsak as a minister under her quata when the next Cabinet reshuffle takes place. And when the next election is held, the 7 MPs of Somsak's faction will enter Puea Thai's fold. And the agreement requires the seven MPs to refrain from signing the censure motion."
The seven MPs from the Matchima faction are: 
Boonying Nitikanchana (Ratchaburi) นางบุญยิ่ง นิติกาญจนา Portiva Nakasai (Chainat - Poseidon Massage Parlor Heiress and former Commerce Minister) นางพรทิวา นาคาศัย Jakrawan Chaijirathukul (Sukhothai) นายจักรวาล ชัยวิรัตน์นุกูล Manu Pukprasert (Sukhothai) นายมนู พุกประเสริฐ Nantana Songpracha (Chainat) นางนันทนา สงฆ์ประชา Ruangsak Ngamsomphak (party list) นายเรืองศักดิ์ งามสมภาค Manit Napaumropdee (Ratchaburi) นายมานิต นพอมรบดี และแกนนำกลุ่มมัชฌิมา อาทินายอนุชา นาคาสัย นายวิวัฒน์ นิติกาญจนา และแกนนำกลุ่มมัชฌิมา อาทินายอนุชา นาคาสัย นายวิวัฒน์ นิติกาญจนา
In addition to Somsak, Matchima's leadership also includes Anucha Nakasai and Wiwat Nitikanchana. 

If Matchima defects, it would certainly boost the position of PT, as well as Yaowapa Wongsawat's Wang Bua Ban faction, as noted by The Nation

Yaowapa has four ministers under her quota plus a government spokesman. With support from the Matchima faction, her quota will definitely be increased by a Cabinet seat. So, with the presence of Matchima, Yaowapa's faction will definitely become formidable.
Photo: Daily News  (from far right - Somchai Wongsawat, "J Daeng" Yaowapa Wongsawat, Somsak Thepsuthin, Anuwan Thepsuthin, ??)

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