Opinion – Drug convict Thammanat’s return to PPRP is imminent as he struggles to remain relevant in politics

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The change of electoral rules for the upcoming general elections prompted many parties to reverse their course.

Many small parties are now scrambling to find a way to survive and it comes as no surprise that the once defiant and powerful Thammanat Prompao is indicating that his party is shifting back to licking old boots at the pro-military Phalang Pracharath Party (PPRP).

The convicted drug smuggler left the PPRP to form his own outfit at Setthakij Thai Party with the hopes of becoming a kingmaker in any government that is formed after the general elections.

However, the tables have turned after the vote to amend the election laws failed to pass the parliament in August.

Although talks have been rife that Thammanat may join the main opposition Pheu Thai Party but current indications saw that he has little choice but to go back to the ruling PPRP that he once walked away from.

Thammanat basically thinks that the Setthakij Thai Party’s chance of survival is slim.

The clear indication of his party joining the PPRP comes after an unusual move yesterday where MPs from Setthakij Thai Party, not PPRP, were welcoming Acting Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan to Mae Sot International Airport for his official visits to the province.

Many of the MPs from the Setthakij Thai Party were there except for Thammanat.

It would be too obvious if he was.

Alliance in the Making

To top off the visit and the welcoming, Prawit also told reporters that the PPPR will not field any constituency MP candidate in areas where Setthakij Thai will be fielding their MPs during the next general election.

When asked whether Setthakij Thai MPs will come back to join PPRP or not, Prawit’s response was that such a move depended on the MPs.

When asked if the move would be problematic or not, he said, “I will let you know when that day comes.”

Prawit was being Prawit and you will never a clear answer from him but Deputy Finance Minister Santi Promphat, PPRP’s secretary-general who replaced Thammanat when he left, already doubled down on Prawit’s comments.

Prawit Wongsuwan

Santi told reporters on Tuesday that the PPRP does not have any issue with the possible return of Setthakij Thai MPs.

“Setthakij Thai’s MPs were our MPs before,” he said.

Thammanat along with 20 MPs were sacked from the party in January and most of them, Thammanat and 17 MPs, joined the Setthakij Thai Party afterward, and the rest joined the Bhumjaithai Party.

“If these MPs believe that our party is a powerful party that can help the people, they can come back, there is no problem here,” he said.

When asked about the possible return of Thammanat as well, Santi said it will be up to the PPRP’s board members to decide and in reality, a political party should not despise anyone.

The welcome note was also hinted at by the likes of Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, who is also from the PPRP, when he said that changing party is a normal practice for a politician.

However, not everyone at PPRP would be glad to hear that Thammanat might rejoin the party.

One of them would be Labor Minister Suchart Chomklin who blamed Thammanat for PPRP’s defeat at Songkhla and Chumphon by-elections in January.

Thammanat’s speeches which claimed that only rich people with high profile last names are worthy of becoming an MP did not go down too well for everyone and it should not because it was a disgusting thing to say.

Suchart also admitted in January that he created an internal poll to ask some members of the PPRP whether Thammanat was the reason for the decline in the party’s popularity but then played it down by saying that he only asked as many as 8 people in his LINE group chat.

The reason why Thammanat was sacked from the PPPR was because he was asking for a bigger position than his previous post as Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

What he wanted was to become a minister and since he did not get what he wants, he threatened to leave the party along with his supporters.

Thammant thought that Prawit will play along with the threat and give him what he wanted but that did not happen, and what followed was that he was sacked from the party instead.

Changing Rules

Given that electoral rules were still in favor of small parties in January, Thammanat believed that he will definitely become an MP again after the next general election and that leaving PPPR would allow him to negotiate for a better position within the government when the time comes.

Having at least 17 MPs on his side could also be used as good leverage against any party.

However, the electoral rules were changed to the two-ballot system and 100 was set as a divisor to calculate how many party list MP each party would get. Earlier prediction was that 500 would be used as a divisor and with that, small parties would have benefitted tremendously.

Thammanat might be huffing and puffing during the previous censure debate in July and even dared to tell Prawit that his party will be joining the opposition.

However, that big bad wolf is now just a stray dog who is looking for a bigger shelter so that he can stay relevant because the electoral rules are no longer in his favor.

Thammanat is the perfect epitome of a politician without any ideology who believes that money can buy everything.

Going back to PPRP will only cement his reputation as an untrustworthy politician who will backstab anyone for his own gains at any given opportunity.

But what can you expect from a person who lied to the public about his education and lied in parliament that the drugs which he was caught with in Australia were just powder?

Such kind of person should not be a representative of the people in the first place, and it shows what kind of people the PPRP and this government like to associate themselves with. 


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