Thailand: Moving beyond Samak

Updated On: Sep 12, 2008

Samak Sundaravej fell by the unlikeliest of circumstances - violating the constitution by hosting two cooking shows on commercial television. All nine judges on the charter court found Mr Samak guilty of breaching the constitution.

Samak may yet make a comeback since he has accepted the People Power Party (PPP)'s request for him to lead the Thai government, supported by its coalition partners including Chart Thai which was earlier reluctant to re-nominate him. He is a still a member of Parliament and is not legally banned from becoming Prime Minister again.

Some of Samak’s possible rivals have also ruled themselves out, including Chart Thai leader Banharn Silpa-archa who is not keen to take on the street protests. Banharn himself does not seem to favor returning Samak to power.

Nevertheless, Samak does face some opposition even within his own coalition and party: approximately 100 PPP MPs led by former deputy leader and former house speaker Yongyuth Tiyapairat moved to withdraw their support from Samak. Former speaker Yongyuth may ask Samak to stay on as advisor with the role of nominating the next PM into power.

Besides Yongyuth, PPP members in the faction led by Sudarat Keyuraphan also oppose Samak’s return to power. Within the coalition, there are also factional preferences, Isan Pattana faction, for example, supports Mr Somchai. These factional conflicts are likely to restrict Samak’s future rule.

At the other end, outside the ruling coalition, the Democrat Party is determined to stop Samak’s return to premiership permanently and appeal to the ruling coalition to listen to people’s opinion and people’s power to exercise voluntary restraint on the return to power.

Controversially, as Samak accepts the nomination and come back to power again, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Education Minister Somchai Wongsawat was appointed acting Prime Minister (controversial because he is the brother-in-law of deposed Thaksin Shinawatra). The cabinet will stay in power together with Somchai until the next cabinet is installed.


Bangkok Post, "Samak out, not down" 10 September 2008 in the Bangkok POst [downloaded on 11 September 2008], available athttp://www.bangkokpost.com/topstories/topstories.php?id=130537
Ruangdit, Pradit, Eakarach Sattaburuth and Manop Thip-Osod, "'Anyone but Samak'" 11 September 2008 in the Bangkok Post website [downloaded on 10 September 2008], available at http://www.bangkokpost.com/topstories/topstories.php?id=130573

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