Monday, 16 May 2011
Yingluck's big week
Pheu Thai set to confirm her as its PM candidate today; to appear in public on Wed
Elusive Yingluck Shinawatra faces a week in the public spotlight. She is scheduled to introduce herself to Pheu Thai members as their prime ministerial hope today and then meet a greater audience yet on Wednesday to speak about her political plans and visions.
The first public appearances by Thaksin Shinawatra's youngest sister will come against the backdrop of an almost contemptuous challenge by the Democrat Party. Abhisit Vejjajiva's party has dared Yingluck to a public debate with him so voters can see who is more qualified to lead Thailand out of its severe political trouble.
Democrat Party spokesman Buranat Samutarak, said yesterday the Democrats welcomed Pheu Thai's move to unveil Yingluck as the No 1 on its party candidate list, a position that makes her Abhisit's rival for top office.
"It's good for people to see choices available to them," he said. Buranat said Abhisit was ready to face Yingluck on any debating stages because both are candidates to be prime minister and their policies will shape the country's future.
Prompong Nopparit, Pheu Thai Party spokesman, said both parties had best focus on policies rather than debate. Debating would not serve the public, but policies would, he claimed.
He said Pheu Thai Party members would endorse their candidate for the No 1 slot on the party-list and the party's candidate for prime minister today by a party vote.
Pheu Thai MP Surapong Tovichakchaikul also said there was no need to rush into a public debate with Abhisit. However, Surapong insisted that Yingluck was a successful businesswoman and she would definitely go to join a debate when she was ready.
Surapong admitted that Yingluck was not an experienced debater. If Abhisit wanted a debate, they could send Natthawut to the stage. "We know Abhisit is very eloquent but his performance is poor. His talking impresses, but his working does not."
A source said Yingluck would attend a general meeting today of the party executive board, which will recommend only one name - her's - for the No 1 slot on the party-list.
After, Yingluck will speak about her political vision, and on Wednesday she will make a public appearance when she reveals her political vision at the Sheraton Grand on Sukhumvit.
If the election ballot was to take place today, the Democrats would defeat Pheu Thai in proportionate votes due to the strength of its campaign policies and the party-list of candidates, Abac Poll said after releasing a nationwide survey yesterday.
In polling of 2,447 respondents in 17 selected provinces representing a nationwide sample, Abac found the Democrats had a clear lead despite a margin of error of about 7 per cent.
The approval rating for the Democrats' record for promoting the merit system soared to 57 per cent, while Pheu Thai scored 35.7 per cent.
The poll found almost 60 per cent were in favour of the Democrat's road map for reconciliation, while 36 per cent opted for that of Pheu Thai.
In regard to policies to quell violence in the South, almost 56 per cent voiced confidence in the Democrats compared to about 37 per cent for Pheu Thai.
About 56 per cent also said the Democrats had better policies on children and youth. Some 38 per cent said they would prefer Pheu Thai's platforms.
The Abac poll gave the Democrats a huge lead on economic policies based on the theory of a sufficiency economy by mustering the support of 58 per cent.
Pheu Thai received a mere 5.9 per cent of the respondents' vote on this.
Some 54 per cent approved Democrat policies related to the armed forces.
Close to 39 per cent were in favour of Pheu Thai military policies.
Almost 53 per cent were in favour of the Democrat's anti-graft policies, followed by about 40 per cent for Pheu Thai's.
On the universal health care scheme, the poll found the Democrats led Pheu Thai by 10 per cent. And they were ahead by more than 10 per cent in regard to policies on energy and farming.
The Abac poll said the Democrats received 45.5 per cent support for its party-list candidates, compared to Pheu Thai's 36.4 per cent.
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said yesterday he was confident the Democrats would secure a victory at the ballot under the leadership of Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Prime Minister Abhisit had far more experience than his Pheu Thai rival Yingluck Shinawatra, Suthep said.
"For the past two years, Abhisit has proved capable of steering the country to overcome economic and political crisis while Yingluck has not done anything except appear on the red-shirt rally stage," he said.
Rebutting Suthep's remarks, barred party executive Sudarat Keyuraphan said she believed a female prime minister would have an innate ability to foster compromise and reconciliation.
Sudarat also dismissed speculation that former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra would evade a jail term if Pheu Thai Party won a landslide victory, saying everyone was equal under the law.