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Pointing out that the appointment of Paetongtarn Shinawatra as the new leader of the Pheu Thai Party is nepotism would be too much of an easy target, given that it was her father who founded the predecessor of the party.
Not to mention that her aunt and uncle-in-law also became prime ministers from the parties that derived from the Thai Rak Thai Party, while Pheu Thai is still following the Thaksin Think, Pheu Thai Do mantra until this day.
What is less obvious and should be pointed out is that the new executive committee is also following the same suit, where most of Pheu Thai’s “new generations” in the committee are still coming from the “Big Houses,” or they are either a son, daughter, niece, nephew, or in-laws of veterans and former MPs from the party.
In case you do not know what Big Houses or Baan Yai is, it is basically political clans or dynasties that have embedded themselves in local government and businesses all around the country and have managed to keep their existence via trading favors, awarding state contracts, and sometimes intimidating rivals in order to win elections.
Now let’s take a look at Pheu Thai’s new members of the executive committee.
Deputy leader Ochit Kiatkongchuchai is the younger brother of Banyong, and his family is one of the two big houses in Chaiyaphum.
Deputy leader Jiraporn Sindhuprai is the daughter of Nisit, a veteran in the party, and a former executive member of the now dissolved People’s Power Party.
Deputy leader Pongkawin Juangroongruangkit is Transport Minister Suriya’s nephew. Secretary-General Sorawong Thienthong is from the famous Thienthong Family, the son of Sanoh, who is one of Pheu Thai’s veterans.
Deputy Secretary-General Sriyada Phalimapan is married to one of the Shinawatra family.
Deputy Secretary-General Saran Timsuwan and his family are one of the big houses in Loei, where both of his parents were MPs before.
Party Registrar Nanat Hongchuvech is the son of Saroj, a former director of the party.
Spokesperson Danuporn Punnakan, a nephew of Gen Pong, a four-term minister under the government of Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn who joined the coup led by Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat in 1957.
Executive Member Voravong Vorapanya is a nephew of Niyom, a former Pheu Thai MP from Lopburi, who is an elder brother of Sanit, a former President of the Senate.
Executive Member Patchara Chantararuangthong is the son of DES Minister Prasert.
Executive Member Nikorn Soemklang is married to one of the Wangsuphakijkosol clan, one of the big houses in Nakhon Ratchasima.
Executive Member Chanin Rungthanakiat is the son of Kasem, a former Executive Member of the Thai Rak Thai Party.
Executive Member Saratsanun Unnopporn is the daughter of Pongsakorn, a former deputy leader of the Pheu Thai Party, and her mother is a former MP for Khon Kaen.
Not to mention Chalerm Yubamrung’s latest quarrel with Thaksin and the party because they overlooked his son, Wan.
Now, I am not saying that they are not suitable for their position or they are not capable, but I am saying that coming from the big houses or being related to the bigwigs of the party most likely gave many of them a boost up the ranking.
Paetongtarn’s comments during her inaugural speech as the leader of the party are that the party must learn from their mistakes in the past.
However, it seems like they have yet to learn the lesson on nepotism and how it has damaged their party over the past decade, and if they are going to continue down this road, the hope that they will come back to win the next election or the one after that will continue to diminish to nothing.