The announcement made last week by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) that it would set up a political party has raised many eyebrows. The PAD co-ordinator Suriyasai Katasila tells The Nation’s Budsarakham Sinlapalavan why it was time the group set up a party and how it would add a new dimension to politics both within and outside Parliament
Q : Is it true the PAD will be setting up a political party? A : First, we must say that it has not materialised yet, though the possibility is very high. It has not yet been established because we are still debating the direction the party would take, the reason why we are setting it up and how it can work as a link between the political and the people sectors. We are still looking for a prominent figure to lead the party.
Q : Why does the PAD want to set up a party? We believe that the existing political parties do not have the potential to bring about political reform. Even the Democrat Party has limitations and seems to be caught in a vicious circle. The PAD’s 190-day rally contributed more to the country than ten parties could. Besides, many people have urged us to set up a party and legitimise PAD’s political movement. Judging from external and internal factors, it is the perfect time for a new party. Thai politics is facing structural problems, and existing parties are unable to address them.
Q : What step are you at in regards to forming the party? A : We have not agreed upon a name for the party yet and we are still undecided about the leader and the executive board. We are also looking for funding sources. All these topics involve a lot of details that need a lot of discussions. Maybe the PAD leaders could become part of the executive board, or one of them could become the party leader or maybe members of the public could become part of the executive board.
Q : Should the PAD need to protest again, how would it legitimise the rally and prove that it has no hidden motives because its party would consist of people from both the political and people sectors? A : It depends on the reason behind these rallies. If it is the sort of protest that aims to incite unrest, like the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship is doing, then it would not be useful for the country. If it is a protest that protects the country’s interests, then it would be a good thing to have both the political and the people’s sector join forces because then we can keep a check on affairs both inside and outside Parliament. It is also a good idea for the PAD to cross check itself. This is the new political dimension that the party will bring.
Q : When did the PAD decide to form a party? A : We have been talking about it since 2006, but the situation at that time did not favour the creation of a party. Now we believe the time is right, and we are seriously discussing its setting up.
Q : I have heard that there are conflicts among the PAD leaders with regards to the party formation. A : All leaders agree that we need to establish a party, they just cannot agree upon having all five PAD leaders become party executives or party leaders, since some believe the leaders should continue with people’s politics.
Q : Do you personally believe that the PAD should establish a party? A : I do because it would give the public an extra choice, though the PAD should not be the only group representing the people. There should be more political parties representing people’s politics, but which party would be acceptable and successful depends on several factors.
Note: There had been earlier reports that the PAD had set up a Nakhon Ratchasima-based party called Tien Haeng Dhamma, or THD, on April 28, 2008, with Thanakorn Weerakuldejtawee as party leader and Chantima Weerakuldejtawee as secretary-general.
The Nations –Published on March 10, 2009