Listen to this story
The Pheu Thai Party’s relentless attack on the ruling coalition ‘at-all-cost’ is risking their brand and electoral chances at the next election.
Though Pheu Thai is banking on a electoral landslide to propel them to victory in the next election, it is not a guarantee that they would get one and their polemic antics will put off many undecided voters should it continue.
Let us remember that the current charter will still be in effect at the next general election so a coalition government is still the most likely outcome and Pheu Thai’s insistence that everything the government does is wrong, is unrealistic and simply untrue.
Perhaps the party has been buoyed by the recent success of former leader Chadchart Sittipunt who won the recent Bangkok Gubernatorial election in a landslide.
The party would do well to remember that Chadchart left the party in less than amicable terms due to how it was being run.
There are concerns from many, already, that this next election will be Shinawatra Part 3.
Paetongtarn “Ung-Ing” Shinawatra is being paraded around as a champion of the people and already displaying signs that she might be the third Shinawatra to run for prime minister. She has certainly galvanized her base and made headlines.
But now is not the time to get cocky. And certainly not the time to go on an all out offensive at a politically sensitive time.
For example, this week, the Pheu Thai Party’s advisor Phumtham Wechayachai’s launched a scathing attack against potential future coalition ally the Bhumjai Thai Party.
Arguing that Ministry of Public Health ordered too many Covid vaccines and that it is wasteful is a weird take, especially when the orders were done on the advice of the doctors and it was to save lives.
Dr Rungrueng Kitphati, chairman of the Ministry of Public Health’s Intelligence Unit, said the orders were made in accordance with international standards during a time of crisis. The discarding of unused vaccines is also not abnormal.
For example, Japan is discarding about 740,000 Moderna shots because they are expiring. The country is struggling to get people to get their third booster because people are no longer scared of Covid and the same is happening in Thailand.
Right now, only 42 per cent of the eligible Thai population or 29 million people have received their third dose compared to 75 million or around half of the population in Japan.
Phumtham also had a go at BJT’s marijuana policy which is strange considering his party also voted for it.
Conservative in all but label
Pheu Thai knows that in the coming election that it must appeal to more liberal voters, especially those inclined to vote for Move Forward, to win a landslide election.
That is why the party is beginning to touch on subjects it had previously considered too taboo like the institution and article 112 of the criminal code.
But if these attacks continue, especially on popular policies like the marijuana legalization, people will begin to see Pheu Thai Party for what it really is.
A conservative party, disguised as a liberal one, trying to hide their royalist, conservative agenda behind the guise of supporting democracy.
On marijuana, marriage equality, article 112, the economy, and international trade, Pheu Thai stand firmly on the conservative side of the aisle.
Their saving grace has been their support of democracy in an era defined by illiberalism and totalitarianism. If it wishes to conserve and continue the facade, it must do so with a softer gait and a more savvy strategy.