by Simone Galimberti
Following the recent elections, I sought feedback from the youthful voices at Mae Fah Luang University who had openly expressed their anticipations and apprehensions prior to the 14th May vote.
During a focus group discussion, these students voiced their optimism towards the potential of the MFP to steer a novel coalition government. They also shared insights on the policy areas the new government should prioritize. While maintaining fiscal prudence, they advocated for the pursuit of welfare schemes.
Moreover, the group expressed a desire for a system that allows the youth to more freely voice their opinions and exert real influence. Foreign policy was identified as another crucial area likely to be impacted by the incoming government.
The majority of the panelists expressed a longing for a significant shift in foreign policy direction, urging a focus on regional integration, the promotion of human rights, and the strengthening of democracy.
The participating panel comprised the following individuals:
Third-year International Development students from the School of Social Innovation at Mae Fah Luang University: Methichai Thongpleo (Mek), Pichamon Sawekwan (Aom), Siriporn Ruadrew (Gift) and Tula Kusurom (Tula).
Second-year International Development students from the School of Social Innovation at Mae Fah Luang University: Savinee Sakjaroenchaikul (Fon) and Orapan Kham-on (Fangkhao).
Questions covered in interview
- What do you think of the 8 party coalition announced by Pita on the 18th of May?
- Do you think Bhumjaithai party’s decision not to support any government proposing amendment to lease majeste’ could negatively impact the future prospects even if Bhumjaithai is not in the 8 party coalition?
- A general comment on the results of the election
- Which priorities, in terms of legislation, a probable coalition government between MFP and Pheu Thai should have? Possibly list out the top 5 legislative actions that a new coalition government should take.
- Should a new coalition government between MFP and Pheu Thai also include some technocrats, apolitical experts in the new government?
- List out who will be your favourite ministers in a new coalition government
- Who should be the Prime Minister? Who would you like to have as Deputy Prime Minister(s)?
- During the campaign, many promises were made in terms of welfare schemes? There is the fear that, while many of such schemes could really help the most vulnerable segments of the population, they might not be sustainable fiscally, piling a lot of debts for the country.
- Please list out and describe a top legislative action that a new coalition government between MFP and Pheu should undertake to promote and support youths of the nation.
- Which mistake a possible new coalition between MFP and Pheu Thai should avoid making at any cost?
- Please list out the first priority that a possible new coalition between MFP and Pheu Thai should make in foreign policy?
What do you think of the 8-party coalition announced by Pita on the 18th of May?
(Mek) The appearance of a new coalition government could represent a new era that matches the aspirations of the vast majority of the public.
However, if there were no flaws in Thai politics, they would have been already in a position to form a government after the election right away because they have more than half of the seats in parliament.
There are many obstacles in the path that the MFP and Pita may face, but they are staying the course and have their way forward. I think all parties also have faith in the government led by the MFP as well as the Thai people.
Justice will be achieved through policy dialogue between parties and civil society, creating the conditions for a new phase of national development. That is the reason why I see the election as a key stepping stone towards Thailand’s true transition from a military rule-based political system to a liberal democratic system.
(Aom) I favour the announcement of the eight coalition parties to lead the next government because it is based on the people’s will. In addition, there is no need to cooperate with the Bhumjaithai Party, which does not have a clear democratic stance. It would be risky to include Bhumjaithai Party in the new coalition because there would be a lack of trust and there would always be the risk of a collapse of the government. This would mean a return of the old conservative forces to power and we cannot afford this scenario. The new coalition greatly represents and, most importantly respects the people’s will.
(Gift) I think the eight party coalition government is enough to form the new government. These parties share the same democratic vision for the future and all want to see Thailand become a prosperous country.
I think it’s good that the MFP did not invite the Bhumjaithai Party to join the coalition government, although it would have been convenient as with the Bhumjaithai Party, the government would have the 376 members of House representatives needed to “bypass” the unelected senators and therefore be in a position to easily appoint the new PM.
(Tula) Personally, I believe that the coalition of the eight government parties announced is highly suitable to form a government.
These eight parties, with more than half of the seats, which is 313 seats out of 500 seats, can be considered as a consensus agreed upon by the people through the recent elections. I think these eight parties are the most suitable to lead Thailand into a future that has never been seen before, driven by a move-forward party.
However, the concern lies with the parliament members who may hinder the establishment of the government and impede the progress of forming the government of Pita.
(Fon) I think it’s quite appropriate. Because every party that came in to form the coalition, had stated, since the the beginning that they would not be on the side of the coup. So it is a promising good start for Thailand.
(Fangkhao) I am very positive about the new coalition joining hands together.
I am very pleased because each party has a strong policy and can actually do a lot. Therefore, I think it is very good for them to work together and bring policies to seriously improve and develop the country.
In order for Thailand to develop further in the future, and from what I listened so far from the candidates who ran for elections, they all want to focus on policy, not instead pursuing personal goals like snatching the minister’s chair to get power in and cheat.
After listening to their plans, still being developed, I feel that I am going to trust in this upcoming government.
Do you think Bhumjaithai party’s decision not to support any government proposing amendment to lease majeste’ could negatively impact the future prospects even if Bhumjaithai is not in the 8 party coalition?
(Mek) It may be unlikely to have much impact because Bhumjaithai Party’s voter-base is different from the Pheu Thai Party, Palang Pracharat Party, and MFP. People who vote for the current coalition’s government parties would definitely not choose Bhumjaithai Party, and vice versa.
In a cunny move, the party did not announce its support for General Prayuth Chan-O-Cha, or even run a campaign competition with the MFP and Pheu Thai Party so the votes of Bhumjaithai Party in this election have increased significantly. The choice of its leader, the outgoing Minister of Health as the Bhumjaithai Party’s nomination of prime minister candidate, was also a smart move.
Importantly, I think that people who vote for the Bhumjaithai Party are not interested in Article 112, but instead are impressed or familiar with the performance of Anutin’s ministerial administration through the policy of liberalizing cannabis and the COVID-19 vaccine. Because of its pragmatism but also ambiguity, in the next election, Bhumjaithai Party may still have the same popularity rating and likely to increase even if the party changes its leaders.
(Aom) In my opinion, the impact of Bhumjaithai may not have much effect because this party was not part of the government, and most people often decide to choose it from various marijuana policies.
In relation to the subject of Section 112, Bhumjaithai Party is not at all willing to pursue any reform. So their role in making an impact in the future is more in terms of being an opposition to the government and for the future, I feel that the party’s role might be diminished because of less access to power and I do not think the party can really strengthen o provide any value to the ongoing efforts to promote democracy in the national politics.
(Gift) I do not think it could get any negative impact in the future even though the Bhumjaithai party will not support any amendments to lese majeste’.
(Tula) Personally, I don’t think it has a significant impact because the strength of the Bhumjaithai Party does not lie in its stance on social issues but rather in its performance in constituency-based elections, where they can secure more than 70 seats, predominantly from the northeastern region. The reason behind the strong presence of the Bhumjaithai Party in the northeastern region is their effective implementation of welfare programs, which has fostered strong support and loyalty from the local residents in the northeastern region.
(Fon) First of all, we must understand that the new government is not going to overthrow the monarch. It just wants to amend 112, especially in a way that it cannot be used for political persecution. The King is still the highest institution. But in making changes, there must be people who agree and disagree. Therefore, the Bhumjaithai Party with its MPs will play the role of the opposition.
(Fangkhao) I think it is very good that he does not join this government, and of course the Bhumjaithai Party knows their position and I understand the reason that the Bhumjaithai party will not participate and it is important to not be invited. In the future, I think that the disadvantage of the Bhumjaithai Party in the next 4 years may not be elected to the government, but on the other hand, it may be good for the nation and the new generation.
The young people might believe that at the end of the day Bhumjaithai Party will simply oppose any ideological democratic parties like the 8 parties setting to constitute the new governing coalition. Instead, on the other hand, the MFP party seems to approach the future not in the short term but rather as a marathon because if they lose, they still believe that they can continue to race and that is what will show people that they are trying and will win elections again in the future.
A general comment on the results of the election
(Mek) I am really happy with the unexpected vote result of the opposition parties in this election from Thai people. I am glad that the Move Forward Party won and is going to lead the new government.
During this transition, I saw signs that Thailand is changing towards a better future. Most importantly, it is the starting point for a stronger foundation of democracy in Thailand. The result of this election has shown that ‘people are the absolute real power of democratic society’.
Despite some concerns about forming a government, and choosing the prime minister, I am confident that the MFP and Pita Limjaroenrat himself can successfully do it.
(Aom) I am very happy about the outcome of the election because there are signs of future changes in the country that are about to get better from the fact that a democratic party and a coalition were able to defeat the former power. It shows the changing needs and aspirations of the people towards the country’s politics to be more democratic and freedom.
(Gift) I am very happy with the results that MFP won. It’s unbelievable that the MFP got the most members of the House of Representatives and got a landslide support in many provinces.
Actually, like many others, I thought that the Phue Thai would have got the highest number of members in the House of Representatives. Then another consideration: this time of the election a larger number of people came out to vote more than the election in 2019. This was itself an indicator that people really wanted change.
(Tula) Personally, I am somewhat surprised by the outcome of this election because I did not expect that the MFP would be able to win this election. At the same time, I have some hope for Thailand’s politics moving forward, that there may be new standards that can bring about positive changes in Thai politics.
(Fon) I am surprised and happy to have a new political party running the country or at least leading a governing coalition. It could be a sign that the old times are over and that we are really preparing ourselves “to move forward together”.
(Fangkhao) The results of the recent elections were really unexpected and I am very happy with the final “surprise”. Now a new change is coming in. We found an opportunity in a hopeless place. I was very worried at first, but I’ve decided to choose hope over fear. And I hope Thailand will develop more, at least better than the last 8 years we lost. Older people may disagree, but personally I would like to say that in relation to the MFP “Let them work first. If they lie or betray people, we will simply vote them out”.
Which priorities, in terms of legislation, a probable coalition government between MFP and Pheu Thai should have? Possibly list out the top 5 legislative actions that a new coalition government should take.
(Mek) Personally, the new government should, firstly, improve the current Thai constitution. It is because the current constitution context is flawed in terms of protecting the interests of Thai people and the country.
The reasons for improvement also include because the current constitution can postpone the formation of the government, especially the influence of appointed-senators and lack of transparency in government operations.
Secondly, I think that the Military Service Act., which contains the details of Thai military conscription, should be amended. Thirdly, the government should advocate for the passing of the Marriage Equality Bill.
Finally, the priority should be about passing the Clean Air Act. We need a strong legislation to protect the people’s right to breath and live in pollution free environments. I really hope this legislation will get the due attention but then we will have to work very hard for its implementation. It is going to be a massive effort.
(Aom) I think the new government should amend the constitution regarding senators and some unfair parts that are by purpose designed to benefit only certain groups of people..
Next, the new coalition should amend the law related to public opinion, especially the issue of Section 112 that is causing trouble for Student activist Thanalop “Yok” Phalanchai or a 14-year-old prosecuted under Section 112 who did not go to school because of further detention. Then, I think the new government should reform the military law, especially the subject of compulsory military recruitment that should be turned into one that is only on voluntary basis.
After that, they should revise the law on electricity, drinking water and air in order to tackle PM 2.5 and enable Thai people to have access to a good basic quality of life. Lastly, they should continue to work on the issue of sex marriage.
In 2022 important steps were taken in this regards but we need to even go further in order to increase freedom and respond to the needs of the people who have been waiting for such legal issues to be completed.
(Gift) In my opinion, a new coalition government should, first, amend the constitution because I think many sections of the Constitution 2017 are not aligned to the democracy principles like section 272 that allows “outside prime minister”, or section 112 about royalists.
Second, economic recovery in Thailand was slowed and unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic skyrocketed.
Third, in education reform, students are forced to study so many subjects but many of them are not useful for student. It is a curriculum that not only is ineffective but it also creates a lot of stress among the student population.
Fourth, the Clean Air Act should be seen as a priority. Pollution is not a problem only in the capital but also in northern Thailand that in March faced a very serious problem with air pollution.
Lastly, social welfare policy is also equally paramount. The government should come up with policies that support the well-being of people within the country and reduce the burden of public health expenditures, public transport or other aspects without discrimination of class and gender.
(Tula) I think that amending Article 112 should be a major issue that these two parties, MFP and Pheu Thai, should work on together through the parliament because it is a matter of great concern for many factions of the public.
At the same time, I believe that the same-sex marriage law should also be another law that they should push for immediately upon the formation of the government. Other laws that these two parties agree on are likely to follow suit, such as the law on conscription criteria cancellation and progressive alcohol laws, among others.
1. Manage the issue of corruption out of the political system.
2. Poverty of minorities
3. Amending Article 112
4. Break down the budget. Reduce the budget for the military and the monarch and applied to education, tourism and for country development
5. Decentralization of power to small organizations not concentrated in one group of people.
(Fangkhao) Defence, economy, education, public health, finance. Mainly, I think these are the five top priorities that should be addressed as soon as possible. I believe that both the MFP Party and the Pheu Thai Party and other parties have the potential and outstanding ability to manage them effectively.
Moreover, when it comes to the economy, I think the Pheu Thai Party is doing well. Considering the multiple daunting challenges faced by the nation, it is going to be key to have very technically strong persons in the governments.
Should a new coalition government between MFP and Pheu Thai also include some technocrats, apolitical experts in the new government?
(Mek) I agree with the statement, because there will be a group of people that monitor the transparency in works and projects of the government. And if the government has some flaws in its duties, this group of people can be the ones who will guide, advise, oppose and criticize the implementation of the agenda.
I truly believe that if there are more diverse political stakeholders involved in the process of policy making, that means a different approach by the new government towards the role the members of the society can play, a lot can happen in a positive way.
Stakeholders like think tanks, NGOs, and youths clubs can support the government and ensure transparency and good governance in the policies. If such change happens, Thai politics will have stability and efficiency in terms of delivering policies that directly meet the needs of the Thai people.
(Aom) In my opinion, technocrats and apolitical experts are one of the key players in ensuring that government action can be guided and implemented. This will help to increase transparency, data coverage and be more efficient in governance.
(Gift) I agree that technocrats should be included in the cabinet and as senior advisors as well to the various the ministries. Because technocrats who have the ability in different fields will be able to think and plan for the development of the country, especially in regard to the Thai economy, which is not at all in a very healthy situation. Hence there is a need for technocrats to come together and support the incoming coalition and help developing the country.
(Tula) I believe that if the new coalition government and the Pheu Thai Party can include technocrats and non-political experts in the new administration, it will result in a highly efficient government in managing the country. This is because these groups have no political agenda or vested interests, enabling them to pursue and achieve national goals and policies for the development of the country.
(Fon) In my opinion they should be included because technocrats can be a “steady hand” for the government and come up with new ideas or innovations.
(Fangkhao) In my opinion, yes, it can happen, and I think it is going to be positive if experts join politicians in the new government.
List out who will be your favourite ministers in a new coalition government
(Mek) Pita Limjaroenrat should not only lead as the next PM but, ideally, also as a Minister of Foreign Affairs. I think a Thai leader should look at foreign affairs as important as the development of the national economy.
I would like to see a new direction of Thai foreign policy even though according to the news, Pita said that he may also position himself as also be in charge of the Ministry of Defense. I also agree with his decision if it is true because the priority is to improve the structural way in which the military operates.
Another favourite is Ms Sirikanya Tansakul from MFP as well. Personally, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Finance are the best choice for her because she is good at trade and exports, and importantly the economy. I also agree and support her to lead such portfolios.
I consider it is appropriate for a new generation of Thai citizens to transform the economy and help the nation to become net zero. All in all, now we are going to have a real chance of having a new generation of politicians in charge.
(Aom) Personally, I feel that there is Dr Wayo Asawarungruang, one of the members of the MFP could be a good Minister of Public Health to improve the Thai public health system. There are so many aspects of the national public health system that require improvement, including the income and the workload of medical personnel. Last but not least, another big issue in the health sector is the shortage of health personnel and resources in remote areas.
(Gift) I would like Pita Limjaroenrat to be the 30th prime minister of Thailand.
(Fon) I like Rangsiman Rome, but he’s not the head of the MFP, so he’s not going to be the Prime Minister. He has fought for democracy and has been on the side of the people for a very long time and he is now one of the members of the MFP which won this election. So I believe he deserves to be in the cabinet and he can do very well there.
Who should be the Prime Minister? Who would you like to have as Deputy Prime Minister(s)?
(Mek) I want Pita to be voted in the position of Prime Minister of Thailand, and I want him to be able to form a government. However, I still have no opinion on who will be the deputy prime minister. I think it depends on the negotiation between the parties of the new government. The deputy prime minister is likely to be from the Pheu Thai Party.
(Aom) As for me, the party with the most votes should nominate its prime minister, therefore, clearly Pita should be the next PM. As for the deputy prime minister, I agree that the second-ranked party or the Pheu Thai Party joining hands in government should have one of the candidates as Deputy Prime Minister. Personally, I would like to present Pae Thongtarn as the deputy prime minister.
(Gift) Pita Limjaroenrat will be the prime minister. I have no idea who will be the deputy prime minister, it needs to come from the negotiation between coalition governments, maybe the deputy prime minister will be from the Phue Thai party.
(Tula) I believe that the suitable person to be the 30th Prime Minister of Thailand is Mr. Pita Limjaroenrat, given that his party emerged as the top winner in the elections. He deserves the opportunity to be nominated as the Prime Minister and should hold this position primarily because of his ability to present development plans for the country through policies and effectively communicate them to the public. Furthermore, he instills confidence that he can lead Thailand toward a better future.
While waiting for the Deputy Prime Minister, I think it should be Dr Chonlanan Srikaew, the leader of the Pheu Thai Party. He has extensive political experience, and his party emerged as the second winner in the recent election. Therefore, I believe that Dr Chonlanan Srikaew is suitable to be the next Deputy Prime Minister.
(Fon) Pita should be the Prime Minister because he won by a transparent vote rather than by buying votes. He has a good profile and is a member of an energetic new generation who is ready to push for change.
In terms of Deputy Prime Minister, I would go for Ung Ing as Deputy Prime Minister because the Pheu Thai Party won the second place from the MFP Party. And the Pheu Thai Party has a policy that is also conducive to enhance the prosperity of the common people.
(Fangkhao) From my point of view, there is no doubt that Pita should be the next PM. because he had shown that the votes were overwhelming for his party and that the people trusted him to be the 30th Prime Minister of Thailand.
Now we should respect the votes of the people rather than allow the not elected members of the Senate to choose who is going to be the next Prime Minister.
Otherwise, everyone knows it, we are not in a real democracy, but it’s a fake democracy. The deputy prime minister should be Ung Ing Praethongtarn, and I think it’s a reasonable possibility and she can really deliver and be an effective politician and could work well with Pita.
During the campaign, many promises were made in terms of welfare schemes? There is the fear that, while many of such schemes could really help the most vulnerable segments of the population, they might not be sustainable fiscally, piling a lot of debts for the country.
(Mek) It may be partially true, there are some genuine concerns but at the same we should not forget that some of the new schemes might use resources from the current budget.
So we should not be too concerned about the risk of further debt accumulation but yes we should take into account the possibility of inflation, with higher cost of living especially in Bangkok.
(Aom) For such issues, I agree with that concern because to be a welfare state it is necessary to gradually increase taxation. Such changes may cause some members of the upper class be dissatisfied, and unable to adapt and adjust.
However, all in all, the benefits of being a welfare state should make people satisfied in paying taxes that lead to the development of humans in the country to be a strong country and increase the economy.
(Gift) I am not an expert but there is a basic thing. All the new schemes that parties have announced over the campaign should be properly implemented and they must do so in a very transparent way. This is easier to say than get it done!
(Tula) In terms of various welfare proposals that many parties have presented, I believe they need to prioritize the budget allocation for implementing these projects while also being cautious about the country’s financial situation under the current global circumstances.
However, I think that several projects proposed by political parties can be beneficial for development and economic stimulation, especially policies like the 10,000 baht digital currency initiative by the Pheu Thai Party and the lottery ticket policy by the Move Forward Party, which could potentially contribute to short-term economic growth.
(Fon) These policies are actually possible. But yes we also have to take into account the current fiscal situation we are experiencing and we know that it is not that good. Because of this situation, the implementation of these new policies may not be as fast as everyone hopes. So I think that new policies should be implemented in a systematic and in an orderly manner and sustainably because otherwise we are at risk of jeopardizing the whole future of the country.
(Fangkhao) Of course, policies that aim at helping vulnerable populations may be unsustainable financially; it is a truth that we need to admit. And I think this new upcoming government will definitely be able to solve the problems and meet the expectations of the people.
As can be seen, any party that wants to lead the government also is coming forward with a strong welfare agenda that benefits the people. Benefits that would impact the whole citizens rather than just few of them like in the past.
When people agree that the policy has hope, they choose that party to develop the country and help the people. I definitely think they can. Because over the years, the old government spent a lot of money but did not really create development or prosperity for the country.
Please list out and describe a top legislative action that a new coalition government between MFP and Pheu should undertake to promote and support youths of the nation.
(Mek) The first thing that the new government should improve is the operational structure of the Children and Youth Council of Thailand. The council should be more fair and inclusive to all sectors.
There are many children and youth who are members of the council but have no role or less role in expressing their opinions or even advocating the policies to the Department of Children and Youth of Thailand.
I, myself, am also a member of the Children and Youth Council of Thailand. However, I have less opportunity to participate in some activities or projects of the council from time to time. Some activities do not include those who live in other provinces, except Bangkok, which, as consequence, does not allow me to perform and contribute in the council as I wish.
I would like to request the council to have a clear and comprehensive selection of members of the central council for children and youth in all regions of Thailand. The same also should apply to the provincial council of children and youth as well.
Finally, I would like the government to issue a clear statement of responsibilities and duties of the provincial and central councils to make their works and projects tangible and effective.
At the same time, the new government should really enable youths to impact the process of decision-making, the youths really must have a voice and agency and a mechanism to express both. The current system does not really represent youths and children. We need to change it.
(Aom) The first thing the new government should do to support young people is to increase freedom of expression and an opinion space for young people to develop the country.
The next step should be to promote a new model of education that leads to the self-development of young people. Such new model must be inclusive, an approach that caters to diversity, including creating access to education for youth and an environment conducive to learning.
(Gift) Personally, I think the word “youth engagement” is very important to promote and support youth. Thus the bill should also prioritize the creation of a democratic space for youth to be part of the decision-making so that youth can have an opportunity, a real one to shape policies that will impact them.
(Tula) I believe that one of the important actions the new government should take to promote and support youth in the country is to ensure their equal access to education across all regions.
Currently, there is a significant disparity in the quality of education between provinces, with education in areas outside of Bangkok being relatively lower in quality. Therefore, the new government should prioritize efforts to distribute education resources equally, aiming to promote and support youth throughout the country.
(Fon) Here my list of priorities.
1. Support Thai education to be better than ever
2. Improve education policies such as reducing expenses, whether it is books, transportation and school uniforms.
3. Support youth networks for young people to express their opinions about the problems in the country.
4. Listen to youth’s opinions and use it for their benefit.
(Fangkhao) A urgent change needed for the young people is the field of education. Of course, education is one of the biggest problems holding back the future prospects of Thai next generations. Therefore, the government should recognize and solve problems in terms of curriculum and silly and “old-fashioned” rules now in place.
Which mistake a possible new coalition between MFP and Pheu Thai should avoid making at any cost?
(Mek) During this period, I think that the Pheu Thai Party must keep its promise not to be a rival to the MFP in the process of forming the next government. If this happens, it will definitely cause confusion in their voter base. It may affect the next election as well. It is the legitimate right of the MFP that wins the election to lead in the formation of the next government.
On the other hand, MFP must avoid to being in a hurry to amend or change Section 112 because it will create pushbacks from the establishment, and the new government would be at risk of being dissolved. The MFP should keep its promise to improve Lese Majeste law and compromise with all parties and sectors to ensure there is no great amount of consequences under their own standpoint.
I also really hope that the new parliament will also see a cooperation framework between the governing coalition and the opposition. Both sides need to work together.
(Aom) Maintaining the promise of respecting the majority of the voters who have clearly chosen a party that “moves forward” is something that the Pheu Thai Party should really respect and take into account in their internal discussions. There may be some resistances even if the top leadership of the party is showing a lot of positive attitudes towards Pita and the MFP.
The Pheu Thai Party should not disrespect nor disobey the voice of the people and try to form an alternative government. Moreover the party should also allow its own elected MPs to express their opinion rather than decide what to do from the top alone. I believe most of the MPs in the Pheu Thai Party also agree that Pita should be the next PM.
(Gift) I think Phue Thai should keep the promise and honestly join the coalition, supporting the MFP in forming a new government. MFP should listen to all opinions of the coalition government and negotiate to avoid conflicts that can cause the opposition to flip the results of the election and form again another government.
(Tula) I think that the Pheu Thai Party should stand alongside the MFP until the end of the government formation process. It should not establish a competing government against the MFP under any circumstances. Even if the Pheu Thai Party has announced that they will not intend to form a competing government, the current political situation in Thailand cannot guarantee that the MFP will be able to form a government.
Though at the moment it seems that the eight-party coalition has locked in enough seats to appoint the new PM and govern, you never know. There is still some possibilities that members of parliament may not vote for the MFP in its entirety, or there may not be enough votes, reaching 376, to elect a prime minister.
(Fon) Thailand’s state of economy is worrisome. MFP used to say during the campaign that in its vision “Good politics, Well Economy, Better future”. So it’s important to follow and implement its motto, literally. However, it is essential to start fixing the economy from the bottom, helping alleviate poverty at the grassroots levels. This is the common thread that brings together both the MFP and the Pheu Thai Party and I believe that both parties are serious about tackling the most daunting problems faced by Thailand.
(Fangkhao) In my opinion, I think the main problem might be about the political will to amend Article 112 as the Pheu Thai Party had announced it would not really focus on it. Their caution is understandable considering the tense relationships between its party and the conservative establishment in the past. Probably the Pheu Thai Party will agree to some “common sense”, reasonable changes to Article 113. Otherwise, in other realms of policy making, they will cooperate and work together very well.
Please list out the first priority that a possible new coalition between MFP and Pheu Thai should make in foreign policy?
(Mek) The new government should, firstly, give a statement to the House of Representatives about the national foreign policy. Although we are a medium-sized, middle power in the global political arena, Thailand lies in one of the most important and strategic spots.
Simply put, there should be an official new policy or strategy in relation to where the country stands geopolitically, including its relationships with United States and China. After that, I think the government really make an effort to ensure that Thailand’s priority in foreign affairs is really focused on strengthening ASEAN.
Dealing with our ASEAN partners is not going to be easy, that’s for sure. But it is the duty of the new government to really try to change the regional mechanism for better. As it is now, it does not make sense and no one cares about it.
(Aom) In foreign policy, I think the new government will come up with a clear democratic stance on the world stage, one that will be markedly different from the present.
I am referring to a policy that also promotes human rights as well. This would be in itself “revolutionary”. In this new approach, the new government should expedite action to pressure neighboring countries on human rights issues and promote people centered regional cooperation.
Besides, I think Thailand should leverage its soft power in foreign policy in terms of tourism, T-pop music and movies to expand Thai culture similar to what South Korea has been doing so effectively.
(Gift) In my opinion, I am thinking about tourism and culture because Thai cuisine and sweets are getting more well-known worldwide and Thailand’s tourist attractions are growing more popular with international visitors. This may lead to the organization of new cultural festivals and the organization of cultural exchange programs.
Thai food and art performances could greatly strengthen the country’s soft power at the international level. Therefore, if a new government has a real foreign policy in terms of promoting tourism and culture, Thailand would receive more attention in the world.
As a consequence, tourism would, eventually, diversify and this would be a very good thing. The cultural industry to be leveraged with such a policy would also make the country’s economy grow and increase employment for people in the country.
(Tula) I think the first thing to do in terms of foreign policy is to cooperate with ASEAN in assisting Myanmar to transition out of the military dictatorship, as well as to demonstrate a stance and commitment on the global stage in various situations, such as the Ukraine-Russia war.
(Fon) The environment, biodiversity loss, global warming are all of great concern. So I think the biggest concern in international policy is climate change.
(Fangkhao) In terms of foreign policy, I think we should make a clear stance on what to do with refugees. When the Pheu Thai Party and the MFP Party form a joint government with other smaller parties, they should seriously turn around the country approach to the region and the world. The focus should be on Myanmar issues, dealing with superpowers’ competition in the region and maritime security in the South China Sea.
Simone Galimberti writes on democracy, social inclusion, youth development, regional integration, SDGs and human rights in the context of Asia Pacific.