Monday, March 4, 2024
HomeNationalPaetongtarn on course to becoming third Shinawatra to lead Thailand

Paetongtarn on course to becoming third Shinawatra to lead Thailand

Paetongtarn Shinawatra’s rise to the helm of the ruling Pheu Thai Party is being seen as preparation for her to become prime minister – either if the top job is vacated prematurely, or after the next election.

This highlights her family’s continuing influence in Pheu Thai and Thai politics more than two decades after her father Thaksin made his political debut as leader of the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party, say many observers.

“It’s now time for the boss’s daughter to lead the party” is how many long-time observers of Thai politics see it.

The divisive former prime minister is widely regarded as Pheu Thai’s de facto chief and patriarch despite holding no executive post in the party.

Paetongtarn, 37, is his youngest daughter.

Thaksin is serving sentences for corruption during his time as PM but is currently being treated at the Police General Hospital for an undisclosed illness. The ex-prime minister returned to Thailand in late August after 15 years of self-imposed exile overseas.

Paetongtarn is also niece to Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin’s sister, who was prime minister in the Pheu Thai government of 2011-2014. That government, like Thaksin’s before it, was toppled in a military coup.

 Deep bow from party leader

Paetongtarn has enjoyed huge influence over Pheu Thai since making her political debut just two years ago. Shortly after joining in October 2021, Paetongtarn was appointed Pheu Thai’s chief adviser for participation and innovation. In March 2022, she was named leader of the “Pheu Thai Family”, a new position seemingly created especially for her.

Paetongtarn’s predecessor as party leader, Cholnan Srikaew, is still remembered for bowing to her at a party event in March last year when he invited her to speak on stage as Pheu Thai Family chief. But Cholnan argued that it was his nature to treat others with respect.

Paetongtarn was nominated as one of Pheu Thai’s three prime ministerial candidates at the May 14 general election, along with Srettha Thavisin who now holds the PM’s post.

 ‘Party belongs to Shinawatra family’

A meeting of party executives and members at party headquarters last Friday saw Paetongtarn elected unopposed as Pheu Thai’s new leader – just two years after she entered politics.

She stood out at the meeting, wearing a striking suit in the party’s color – red – while other participants wore black or dark attire.

Senior Pheu Thai members sought to dismiss allegations that she was handed the top post because she is a Shinawatra.

Outgoing deputy party leader Phumtham Wechayachai insisted the success was due to her abilities and qualifications, not her surname.

Paetongtarn’s selection would pave the way for the younger generation to take a bigger role in the party, he added. Like the new party leader, most other members of the new executive board are in their 30s or 40s.

However, many experts view Paetongtarn’s appointment as a move to cement her family’s control over Pheu Thai.

Yuthaporn Issarachai, a political scientist from Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, said Paetongtarn’s rise to the helm reflected the “family-run style” of Pheu Thai.

Despite efforts to modernize the party by filling executive posts with younger people, the truth is Pheu Thai’s core remains unchanged because the party “belongs to the Shinawatra family,” he said.

 Youngest offspring

Paetongtarn, nicknamed “Ung-ing” by her family, was born in the United States on August 21, 1986, as the third and last child of Thaksin Shinawatra and Potjaman Na Pombejra.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science, sociology and anthropology from Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science in 2008 and earned a master’s in international hotel management from the University of Surrey in England.

Before entering politics, Paetongtarn was a major shareholder of property giant SC Asset Corporation and a director of the Thaicom Foundation. She also held shares in some 20 other companies spanning the real estate, telecoms, and media sectors.

Paetongtarn served as chief executive of Rende Development Co Ltd, which manages properties owned by the Shinawatra family, including SC Park Hotel, Alpine Golf & Sports Club, and Thames Valley Khao Yai Hotel.

She is married to commercial airline pilot Pidok Sooksawas, and the couple has two children.

As a member of Srettha’s government, Paetongtarn was recently appointed as deputy chair of two national committees, on soft power strategy and public health system development. Both are chaired by the prime minister himself.

By Thai PBS World’s Political Desk

The post Paetongtarn on course to becoming third Shinawatra to lead Thailand first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments