ready to set up new party
The People Power party (PPP)
is preparing to set up a new political entity
if ex-deputy leader Yongyuth Tiyapairat is disqualified
by the Supreme Court today in the conclusion
to the vote-buying case from last year's general
The ruling by
the Supreme Court's election cases division
could affect the future of the PPP because Mr
Yongyuth was an executive member when the alleged
poll fraud took place.
A PPP source said yesterday Songkram Kitlertpairoj,
a Samut Prakan MP, had been assigned to register
a new political party called Puea Thai.
Banjongsak Wongrattanawan would be the leader
and Olarn Kitlertpairoj, Mr Songkram's step-brother,
would be the secretary-general, the source said.
The new party would take in MPs from the PPP
if the PPP is ordered to be dissolved, the source
Those MPs who move to the new party are required
to form a government. But if they fail, Prime
Minister Samak Sundaravej would be asked to
exercise his authority to dissolve the House
and call a general election, the source said.
Mr Yongyuth could not be reached for comment
But Sakorn Sirichai, his lawyer, quoted him
as saying that the former House speaker will
respect the court's ruling whichever way it
Business leaders played down the potential economic
impact of the case as the country's investment
atmosphere is already weak regardless of today's
Representatives of the Board of Trade and the
Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said investor
sentiment, which was already unfavourable, was
unlikely to deteriorate much further.
"In the worst-case scenario, where the
[Yongyuth] ruling leads to the PPP's dissolution
and we have to have an election, this would
not have a significant impact on investor confidence,"
said Board of Trade deputy secretary-general
"At present, the business sector has very
little confidence in politics. I don't think
investors will commit to new ventures in Thailand
at the moment."
FTI vice-chairman Adisak Rohitasune agreed,
saying businesses were more worried about rising
oil prices and the anti-government protests
led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).
"We can accept changes in the democratic
system," said Mr Adisak.
"But the deadlock brought on by the anti-government
protests should end peacefully. This is our
The secretary-general of the Japanese Chamber
of Commerce in Bangkok, Tsuyoshi Inoue, said
Japanese investors are not worried by recent
political problems so long as the situation
does not end up hurting the economy.
"Last year, the political situation was
very bad but the Thai economy still grew by
more than 4%. Japanese firms, therefore, have
not lost any confidence in Thailand," he
But Japanese companies which have not yet set
up in Thailand may adopt a wait-and-see stance
before investing here, added Mr Inoue.
For today's case, the court completed its witness
hearings on May 20.
The Election Commission accused Mr Yongyuth,
then a PPP deputy leader, of offering money
to a group of kamnans [tambon heads] in Chiang
Rai's Mae Chan district in return for helping
his sister, La-ong Tiyapairat, win the election.
Chaiwat Changkaokham, a 52-year-old kamnan in
Mae Chan, was a key witness testifying against
In his testimony on May 8, Mr Chaiwat said each
of the kamnans in Mae Chan district was paid
He said that in October last year he was contacted
by Mr Yongyuth's aide, who asked him to travel
to Bangkok to meet the Chiang Rai politician
with fellow kamnans from the same district and
Banjong Yangyuen, municipal mayor of tambon
His group agreed to travel to Bangkok
on Oct 28, 2007. They met Mr Yongyuth at a hotel.
Mr Yongyuth asked them to help canvass for his
sister, a constituency MP candidate for the
PPP, and other PPP candidates, Mr Chaiwat told
After his group agreed to support Ms La-ong
and the other PPP candidates who were Mae Chan
natives, Mr Yongyuth left the hotel room where
they had met, Mr Chaiwat said.
Mr Banjong then allegedly gave each member of
the group an envelope containing 20,000 baht
Sakorn Sirichai, Mr Yongyuth's lawyer, said
the case is a civil one and Mr Yongyuth and
Ms La-ong will not necessarily turn up in court
to hear the verdict.