EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW : ‘Power not primary objective’

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The New Politics Party would not seek power in the government but aimed to clean Thai politics from corruption and injustice, party chief Somsak Kosaisuk said in an exclusive interview.

The New Politics Party would not seek power in the government but aimed to clean Thai politics from corruption and injustice, party chief Somsak Kosaisuk said in an exclusive interview.

The party would focus on people’s participation in every step and process in order to make it a real mass political party, he said.

“Even the name of the party – we have asked members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to vote for it,” he said.

The formation of the party was a relatively new occurrence in Thai political history since it was transformed from a mass movement of the PAD, he said.

Other Thai political parties were formed by small groups of people and spent money to get elected – but the new party was given birth by hundreds of thousands people who gathered at PAD’s assembly on May 25, he said.

Somsak said his party is a kind of labour union or cooperative which will depend heavily on members’ participation.

Over the past 77 years- after the 1932 revolution handed political power from the monarchy to commoners – there has been only a rotation [of power] between military coups and corrupt politicians, he said.

“Thai political society needs to be changed from the bottom.”

Some parties in the past aimed for cleaner politics – such as the Plangmai after the 1973 uprising and Plangdhram in early 1990s – but they never lasted long and failed to cleanup politics, since the disease of corruption is so strong, he said.

“It might take at least 10 years, if my party managed to become established, to have the politics changed,” he said.

The new party was not set up to serve personal interest and would not compromise with bad politicians, he said.

Somsak claimed his party had a system to mobilise good and quality people from local communities to run in the election.

“Our representatives would be good and honest people who have worked for the public interest for at least five years,” he said.

“We don’t take any political opportunists in our party, no matter how much they donated to the party,” he said.

Somsak said the PAD’s members would be required to donate at least Bt100 a month to fund the party’s activities, including the election.

“Let’s say we have 500,000 members – multiply by Bt 100 – so we would have Bt 50 million a month. That’s enough. I don’t think the money is our problem,” he said.

The PAD obtained millions of baht from donors while it conducted street protests against Shinawatra Thaksin and his proxy governments, he said.

The party has been submitted to the Election Commission (EC) for approval, and would take at least two months after the EC’s approval to produce its real executive board.

It is expected media tycoon Sondhi Limthongkul would be the party’s real leader, but he has said he would not take the position officially until he had managed to clear up many controversial issues.

Sondhi and the other four key leaders of the PAD might not hold any positions- but they would not run away from the party, Somsak said.

“We might work separately in different functions but we will stick together,” he said and added Sondhi’s ASTV would not be necessary to support the new party all the time.

Somsak said he was not a temporary leader, as widely suspected – but if the party’s first congress chose him, he would run the party by himself.

“But I would not move to seek the position, let it evolve naturally. If the party’s congress says I should take the position, I’m ready to lead the party,” he said.

Asked if the ex-labour union leader would be able to run a political party, Somsak said he needed to learn and adjust himself to fit the new situation and circumstance.

“I have to wear jacket and necktie when I submit the party register at the EC. It’s very rare for me but I have to learn to adjust myself,” he said.

By Somroutai Sapsomboon
Budsarakham Sinlapalavan

The Nation
Published on June 8, 2009

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