Updated:Korn on staying in power

11 03 2011

Andrew Spooner at Asia Provocateur has posted the third installment of his interview with Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij. For PPT’s posts on the second part of this discussion, see here.

PPT won’t summarize this third part of the interview but highlights a couple of points.

One issue that struck PPT as interesting was the way Korn speaks in Thaksin-like terms about staying power. When Thaksin Shinawatra was in power, he spoke of his plan to stay in power for several terms. At the time, his many critics were horrified, comparing him with the authoritarian electoral regimes of Malaysia’s Mahathir or Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew.

Now look at what Korn says:

My ideal is that Abhisit [Vejjajiva] remains Prime Minister for the rest of my political career and I can be doing what I am doing right now as minister of finance…. I said at the outset, when I was 40, … that I would do this for 15 years. I still aim to stick to that.

I have 9 years to go.

Effectively, that means Korn expects to be in power for two further terms and the equivalent of three terms, with Abhisit as prime minster. Why are there no complaints now from all those who shouted against Thaksin at the time? After all, the Abhisit regime has shown more authoritarian practice than Thaksin, backed as it is by the military and its boots and guns.

The answer appears clear now: those opponents were not democrats but were opposing an electoral populism that scared and challenged them and the “way” Thai politics is “done” by the elite.

Korn admits that his party came to power in a process that wasn’t “that good”:

There was an election of the Prime Minister in parliament which is not as good.

Nonetheless, he is confident that his party will win the still unannounced election:

… I want an election as soon as is possible. Not just because of these legitimacy issues, to be honest with you, but we’re at the tail-end of a term and there are so many things from a reform perspective that I want to do, that frankly, are not doable pre-election. I just want to get it over with so that we can actually come back and do these reforms.

He is so confident that Spooner has to remind him that the Democrat Party actually has to win and that opposition might be strong.

Update: Bangkok Pundit has stated that Abhisit plans to dissolve parliament in May and that this is semi-official as it comes from a Government House site.


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