Daughter of ex-Thai prime minister outlines opposition’s vision

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The daughter of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has promised a new era of social equality, saying if her party is elected to power in next year’s election it will bring an end to poverty in the south-east Asian nation.

Paetongtarn Shinawatra told supporters that if Thailand’s largest opposition party, Pheu Thai, wins in May people would see a marked change from the administration of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seized power in a military coup in 2014 and was then elected in 2019.

“The next four years will be the years that our country will bounce back and regain our dignity and pride,” she said.

“To think big and act smart will help rebuild our country and improve the livelihood of Thai people – as if it’s a miracle. Only political stability will help us.”

Paetongtarn Shinawatra
Paetongtarn Shinawatra addresses supporters during a Pheu Thai party general assembly meeting in Bangkok (AP)

She did not provide details on how the party would accomplish its goals.

“All we have to do is to work together to change the country’s leadership,” she said.

The Pheu Thai party has not yet announced who its candidate for prime minister will be, but Ms Paetongtarn’s presence has drawn attention since she became chief of its Inclusion and Innovation Advisory Committee last year.

The 36-year-old has said she is very close to her father, who remains popular in Thailand, and meets with him frequently.

Paetongtarn Shinawatra
A supporter takes a selfie with the daughter of Thailand’s former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Paetongtarn Shinawatra (AP)

He is widely thought to be seeking some sort of a political comeback and has been increasing his profile, and his daughter’s role with Pheu Thai seems to be an indication that his influence with the party is still strong.

The 73-year-old billionaire businessman’s populist policies won him strong electoral support, and his removal gave rise to years of political instability.

He is a contentious figure whose fall set off a sometimes-violent struggle for power between his supporters and his opponents, who accused him of abuse of power and corruption. His supporters say the traditional Thai establishment feared losing power because of his popularity.

Ms Paetongtarn, his youngest daughter, is just the latest from the family to become involved in Thai politics.

Mr Thaksin’s brother-in-law, Somchai Wongsawat, served briefly as prime minister in 2008 and his youngest sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, held the office from 2011 to 2014 before she was forced out of office.

Her government was ousted in the 2014 coup that brought then-army chief Mr Prayuth to power.

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