Pheu Thai lines up Paetongtarn Shinawatra, property tycoon as PM picks

Pheu Thai party leader Cholnan Srikaew (left) and property tycoon Srettha Thavisin. - The Nation

BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): Paetongtarn Shinawatra will likely be joined by property tycoon Srettha Thavisin on Pheu Thai’s list of three prime minister candidates, party leader Cholnan Srikaew said on Monday (March 6).

The 36-year-old daughter of fugitive ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has consistently topped opinion polls as the people’s choice for their next PM.

Thaksin, who was ousted as PM by the 2006 military coup, is also considered the patriarch of Pheu Thai.

Asked by reporters whether the party’s PM candidate list would include Paetongtarn and Srettha, Cholnan answered in the affirmative.

“After hearing the people’s voices, it is likely so,” Cholnan replied.

Paetongtarn is currently head of the Pheu Thai Family project.

Srettha, the 60-year-old president and chief executive of Sansiri Plc, has been appointed as her chief adviser. He has said he is not interested in any Cabinet post except for that of prime minister.

Some observers expect Paetongtarn to front Pheu Thai’s election campaign before standing aside to let Srettha run for PM, as the property tycoon is considered more senior and experienced.

Any party that wins at least 25 seats at the upcoming election can nominate a prime minister candidate from its list of three.

Cholnan said on Monday that Pheu Thai has more than three potential prime minister candidates. He confirmed the party was in the process of selecting its candidates for approval by its executive board shortly after the House is dissolved.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-O-Cha has said he will dissolve the House this month in preparation for the election tentatively scheduled for May 7.

Cholnan also addressed the reallocation of some House seats from Pheu Thai’s northern strongholds of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai to southern provinces.

He confirmed that the move – made by the Election Commission after the Constitutional Court ruled non-Thai citizens must not be counted as voters – will affect the number of House seats the party expected to win.

He said the Pheu Thai candidates for the reallocated Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai seats would be reassigned as party-list candidates.

Cholnan also refused to confirm or deny rumours that Justice Minister and Palang Pracharath MP Somsak Thepsutin will defect to join Pheu Thai.

“We are waiting for his decision. We can’t publicly announce anything about this for now,” he said.

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