In two weeks, 111 banned Thai politicians from the Thai Rak Thai Party are set to re-enter the political fray.
The Thai Rak Thai politicians were banned from politics for five years after the party was dissolved in May 2007 and it meant losing a group of the most seasoned politicians in the Kingdom.
The ban expires on May 30 and there’s speculation of a cabinet reshuffle with top ministerial posts going to reinstated party members.
Prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra said her door is always open to capable people but political veterans caution about changing things too fast.
Former Thai Rak Thai executive Phongpol Adireksarn, said: “One strong criticism I have for Thaksin administration is that… he changed ministers too often. Only the prime minister stayed on for four years, but he changed ministers every six months. You cannot run the country like that.”
At 70 years old, Phongpol said the five year ban was a kind of early retirement and that he has moved on to other projects like publishing and broadcasting.
And with the old guard coming back, it could alienate those already in the Yingluck government.
Dr Attasit Pankaew, a political science lecturer at Thammasat University, said: “How can she handle people who are in the positions right now and tell them, ‘Oh your time is up and we need someone to come in’? That is the problem inside her government. She has to balance this problem. But I think bringing in these people will make her government stronger.”
Former Thai Rak Thai executive Chaturon Chaiseng said he’s been treated as a second class citizen for the last five years and is looking forward to freedom.
Chaturon said: “We might be able to do more in some sense. For example, if there is an election and if I run for the Member of Parliament, I will be able to do more in the parliament.”
Chaturon was the acting Party leader of Thai Rak Thai when it was dissolved and very close to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
He, like many others who’ve sat on the sidelines, seems ready to step back into the ring.