Pitsuwan tipped as Dem candidate in Thai election

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Surin PitsuwanFormer ASEAN secretary-general and ex-Thai foreign minister Surin Pitsuwan is seen as a possible Democrat Party candidate for the snap elections on February 2, 2014. Pitsuwan, who was also rumoured to be selected as party leader to enhance the party’s image, was not supported by Democrat party leaders in a general assembly on December 17, but will highly likely step in to help run the party via the executive committee and play a role in the pre-election campaigns.

Pitsuwan, who ended his term as ASEAN secretary-general in December 2012, is a staunch follower of the Democrat Party and a member of the parliament for his home district Nakhon Si Thammarat in Thailand’s south. Currently, he is chairman of the Future Innovative Thailand Institute, a Democrat Party think tank, and lecturer or fellow of some top-notch domestic and international universities.

He repeatedly expressed his readiness to get re-involved in Thai politics after his ASEAN job, suggesting to take over the education ministry. He is also a strong critic of the ruling Pheu Thai party’s populist policies and their “inadequate attention to improving competitiveness, resulting in corruption and public apathy.”

During the street protest in Bangkok over the past weeks, Pitsuwan kept a low profile, but has been an advocate for an anti-government protest group made up of students of Bangkok’s Thammasat University. During one speech there, he, however, overdid it when he tried to explain the crowd why elections – which the Democratcs almost certainly will lose – were not always the right thing because “”Hitler also came from election and became a dictator”. The statement has been slammed by opponents as well as some of his followers for not being “overly intelligent”.

Pitsuwan is backed by the urban elite in Bangkok and Southerners, and his diplomatic approach, his experience on the international stage and his globalised view make him stand out from current Thai politicians. On the other hand, as a Muslim from the South he has no support from the rural and northern population, many of whom don’t even know him. His advocacy for the 2006 coup in Thailand as a “necessary measure” has also triggered criticism, and his backing from within the military is weak.

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Former ASEAN secretary-general and ex-Thai foreign minister Surin Pitsuwan is seen as a possible Democrat Party candidate for the snap elections on February 2, 2014. Pitsuwan, who was also rumoured to be selected as party leader to enhance the party’s image, was not supported by Democrat party leaders in a general assembly on December 17, but will highly likely step in to help run the party via the executive committee and play a role in the pre-election campaigns.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Surin PitsuwanFormer ASEAN secretary-general and ex-Thai foreign minister Surin Pitsuwan is seen as a possible Democrat Party candidate for the snap elections on February 2, 2014. Pitsuwan, who was also rumoured to be selected as party leader to enhance the party’s image, was not supported by Democrat party leaders in a general assembly on December 17, but will highly likely step in to help run the party via the executive committee and play a role in the pre-election campaigns.

Pitsuwan, who ended his term as ASEAN secretary-general in December 2012, is a staunch follower of the Democrat Party and a member of the parliament for his home district Nakhon Si Thammarat in Thailand’s south. Currently, he is chairman of the Future Innovative Thailand Institute, a Democrat Party think tank, and lecturer or fellow of some top-notch domestic and international universities.

He repeatedly expressed his readiness to get re-involved in Thai politics after his ASEAN job, suggesting to take over the education ministry. He is also a strong critic of the ruling Pheu Thai party’s populist policies and their “inadequate attention to improving competitiveness, resulting in corruption and public apathy.”

During the street protest in Bangkok over the past weeks, Pitsuwan kept a low profile, but has been an advocate for an anti-government protest group made up of students of Bangkok’s Thammasat University. During one speech there, he, however, overdid it when he tried to explain the crowd why elections – which the Democratcs almost certainly will lose – were not always the right thing because “”Hitler also came from election and became a dictator”. The statement has been slammed by opponents as well as some of his followers for not being “overly intelligent”.

Pitsuwan is backed by the urban elite in Bangkok and Southerners, and his diplomatic approach, his experience on the international stage and his globalised view make him stand out from current Thai politicians. On the other hand, as a Muslim from the South he has no support from the rural and northern population, many of whom don’t even know him. His advocacy for the 2006 coup in Thailand as a “necessary measure” has also triggered criticism, and his backing from within the military is weak.

 

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