A couple of hours ago, Abhisit Vejjajiva, the head of Thailand’s Democratic Party was voted in as Thailand’s new Prime Minister. The vote was very close, 235 to 198, with many Thai people very unhappy when Abhisit was named Prime Minister. After the vote was over, people who supported the old Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat, and his party, the People’s Power Party, demonstrated outside the Parliament Building, threatening to not let the Thai Members of Parliament leave. With this as his new start, can Abhisit Vejjajiva actually govern Thailand?
In the past few months, Thailand has been racked with political demonstrations. Three weeks ago, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (the PAD), who demonstrated for several months, finally closed down both of Bangkok’s airports for over a week, effectively sealing off the country and forcing the old Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat, to resign. His party was then declared ‘illegal’ by Thailand’s Supreme Court and disbanded. In the two weeks since this happened, political leaders have been struggling to come up with an acceptable Prime Minister and an acceptable governing party. Finally, the Democratic Party managed to get enough support and thus, enough votes, to get their leader declared Prime Minister. But, now the fun will really start.
Thailand’s new Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, is only 44 years old and is British born. He is also the youngest Prime Minister Thailand has ever had. He is also Oxford University educated, speaks fluent English, is incredibly smart and, oh, did I mention he’s really cute? He isn’t, however, particularly wealthy (not in the extremely wealthy sense of the past Prime Ministers) which, in Thailand, means he doesn’t have the power that past Prime Ministers have had. He also doesn’t have the support of more than 60% of the country, the rural poor, who voted for the People’s Power Party and their leader for Prime Minister. Both of these factors could be a huge problem for him. Already, many Thais are predicting he’ll be lucky to last a month as Prime Minister. I beg to differ.
At a time when Thailand has been in danger of being pulled apart by two opposing groups, one supporting the PPP and the ex-Prime Minister, Thaksin, and the other (the PAD) supporting anyone who isn’t involved with the PPP and Thaksin, it would be crazy if Abhisit wasn’t allowed to govern. In the last few months, because of political demonstrations, Thailand’s economy has suffered, Thailand’s exports have suffered, and the reputation of Thailand as a safe, tourist-centric country has been severely damaged. It would be a shame, therefore, if the political demonstrations were allowed to continue and Abhisit suffered the same fate as the previous three Prime Ministers. Thailand needs a new Prime Minister, needs one that isn’t affiliated with Thaksin, and needs to get back to becoming a stable country, one that is safe for tourists and supportive of exports.
If Abhisit is kicked out however, this will only lead to an even more badly damaged economy and to Thailand’s reputation heading further down the toilet it’s already heading into.
I believe the Thai people, both those supportive and in opposition to Abhisit, have enough common sense to know they have to give him time to govern. They know that Thailand needs this man more than they’ve needed any other Prime Minister in the last 30 years. They know that, if he isn’t allowed to govern, Thailand’s economy will worsen, Thailand’s political stability will worsen, and the world will put Thailand in an even worse light than it already has. They also know that they will be the ones who will suffer.
So, let’s all hope that the Thai people will indeed use their legendary Thai patience and give Abhisit the chance he needs, to be the Prime Minister Thailand must have. Because only then will Thailand be able to head down the road to financial and political stability – a road it so badly needs to be on.Abhisit has just been named Thailand’s newest Prime Minister.Abhisit, at 44, will be Thailand’s youngest ever Prime Minister.Abhisit is British born and Oxford educated.