Cautious optimism among Thais in Malaysia

The spectre of Move Forward Party being dissolved by a court order has been raised after a similar thing happened to its predecessor, the Future Forward Party, following its major win in the 2019 elections.


May 17, 2023

BANGKOK – Thais in Malaysia are looking forward to having a new prime minister but are apprehensive about what the resounding win by the Opposition in the country’s May 14 general election will bring, given the nation’s political history.

The progressive Move Forward Party (MFP) and Pheu Thai, which is linked to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, trounced the other parties, especially the two main army-allied parties, to emerge the biggest winners.

MFP is on course to take 151 seats and Pheu Thai 141 out of the 500 seats in the lower house.

Journalist Wongpun Amarinthewa, 30, described MFP’s clinching of over 150 seats as astounding.

“MFP’s victory signifies the Thai people’s wish for not just a change of government, but drastic political reforms,” he said yesterday.

Wongpun also highlighted the worries of many of his compatriots over potential obstacles to MFP and Pheu Thai forming a coalition government.

The new prime minister will be chosen jointly by the lower house and the 250 senate members who were appointed by incumbent Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a former army chief and coup leader.

The spectre of MFP being dissolved by a court order has also been raised after a similar thing happened to its predecessor, the Future Forward Party, following its major win in the 2019 elections.

In addition, there is apprehension among the public about whether MFP leader Pita Limcharoenrat will successfully become the prime minister despite him declaring that he is ready for the top job.

“For various reasons, people are concerned if MFP can form the government.

“Even though MFP can now form a coalition with six pro-democracy parties, with 310 seats out of 500 in the lower house, it still lacks 66 seats to get the votes for PM (it needs 376 out of 750).

“As such, many Thais have started to pressure the senate to respect the voice of the majority by giving their vote to MFP’s PM candidate (Pita),” he said.

Community operations specialist Nisreen, 32, said the polls result reflects the strong desire among the Thai people in wanting Pita as their premier.

“We all need a change for Thailand. It is not only me, but most of the Thai people are satisfied with the election result.

“I can see the potential and talent in Pita to solve political problems and bring about a better Thai economy, stability and good education for the people,” she said.

Security specialist Somphan Krueasatoy, 42, said he is proud of Pita’s credentials and is confident in his ability to restore democracy to the country.

He noted that the 42-year-old “was elected by the people through an honest election” and will be the youngest prime minister in Thailand’s history.

“He went to Harvard and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

“I can’t wait to see him and his party run their progressive policies for Thailand.

“I believe he can take Thailand to new heights,” he said.

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