To Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra: Congratulations!

Heh. Thai election result was out last night & I'm glad the use of 'PM' in this post, "Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra: It's not easy to be me!" is proven to be correct.

Congratulations to Thais for having their first female Prime Minister! Congratulations to Ms Yingluck Shinawatra!

And I have one word for those readers who come across this blog of mine as they google the keywords 'yingluck shinawatra nude' or 'yingluck shinawatra naked' or 'yingluck nude' or (WTH?!) 'does yingluck shinawatra wear boots'.

That word is 'Respect'.

The sister of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra led Thailand's main opposition party to a landslide victory in elections Sunday, heralding an extraordinary political turnaround five tumultuous years after her fugitive billionaire brother was toppled in an army coup.

The vote paves the way for 44-year-old Yingluck Shinawatra, who has never held office, to become this Southeast Asian kingdom's first female prime minister.

A large mandate to govern could help the new government navigate a way out of the crisis that has plagued Thailand since Thaksin's 2006 overthrow. But the question remains whether the nation's elite power brokers, including the monarchy and the army, would accept the result.

Thaksin was barred from politics in 2007 and convicted on graft charges the next year. The U.S.-educated Yingluck, who he has called "my clone," is widely considered his proxy.

The incumbent premier, Abhisit Vejjajiva, conceded defeat Sunday night and said he was ready to become the opposition.

With 98 percent of the vote counted, preliminary results from the Election Commission indicated Yingluck's Pheu Thai party had a strong lead with 264 of 500 parliament seats, well over the majority needed to form a government. Abhisit's Democrats won 160 seats.

Speaking to a throng of cheering supporters at her party headquarters in Bangkok, Yingluck declined to declare victory until final results are released. But she said: "I don't want to say that Pheu Thai wins today. It's a victory of the people."

In an interview broadcast on the Thai PBS television station, Thaksin called the preliminary outcome "a step forward."

"People are tired of a standstill," he said from the desert emirate of Dubai, where he lives in exile to avoid a two-year prison sentence for graft he says is politically motivated. "They want to see change in a peaceful manner."

Thaksin said he did not feel vengeful and was "ready to forgive all."

After the army toppled Thaksin, controversial court rulings removed two of the pro-Thaksin premiers who followed, one of whom won a 2007 vote intended to restore democracy. That chain of events paved the way for army-backed Abhisit to assume power — ultimately sparking the massive anti-government protests last year which brought Bangkok to its knees, leaving 90 people dead, 1,800 wounded and the glittering city's skyline engulfed in flames.

Army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha reiterated his vow last week to stay neutral in the vote, dismissing rumors the military would stage another coup.

"The future depends on whether the traditional elite will be willing to accept the voice of the people," Pavin Chachavalpongpun of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, told The Associated Press.

The more Yingluck's party wins by, he said, "the more stable her government will be, the more difficult it will be for the elite to do anything against it."

The photogenic Yingluck has long been seen as the front-runner in the vote. Her popularity is almost entirely due to fact that she is the proxy of Thaksin.

His ascent to power in 2001 changed Thailand forever, touching off a societal schism between the country's haves and long-silent have-nots. The marginalized rural poor hail his populism, while the elite establishment sees him as a corrupt, autocratic threat to the status quo and even to the revered constitutional monarchy.

That schism has played out through pro- and anti-Thaksin street protests since the 2006 coup. The vote, many believe, is largely about the divisive legacy he left behind.

For a nation of 66 million people known to tourists as "the Land of Smiles," much is at stake.

Last year's demonstrations marked some of the nation's worst violence in two decades and left Thailand's reputation for stability in tatters. Holding the ballot was one of the protesters demands, though they wanted it held last year.

Oxford-educated Abhisit has used his campaign to blame the opposition and its supporters for burning Bangkok last year, saying a vote for Yingluck would be a vote for chaos. He has also declared the poll "the best opportunity to remove the poison of Thaksin from Thailand."

Abhisit and his allies believe Yingluck is plotting Thaksin's return through a proposed amnesty that would apply for political crimes committed since the coup. Yingluck says it is aimed at reconciling all Thais — not just her brother.

Thaksin has vowed to return by year's end, but he said Sunday that "I have to be part of the solution ... I don't want to return and create problems. If that's the case, I don't have to go back yet."

In a concession speech, a pale-faced Abhisit said he would continue to oppose amnesty for Thaksin, but said that "from now on, I want to see reconciliation in society."

Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, said the most important challenge facing the incoming government will be resolving the nation's divide.

"Everyone is talking about political deals, but no one is talking about how to end impunity, restore freedom of expression and hold perpetrators accountable no matter how high up they are," Sunai said. "Without that, Thailand will never able to get out of this cycle of violence and turn itself around."

Although Thaksin is credited for awakening what has become a democratic movement among the country's marginalized poor who long stood silent, his opponents say he is no champion of freedom. During his time in office, Thaksin was loudly criticized for a sharp authoritarian streak and stood accused of corruption, cronyism and abuse of power.

From Yahoo! News, "Party of ousted PM's sister wins Thai elections".

The result was a simple-majority mandate for the opposition Pheu Thai Party, which must learn from the past and exercise its legitimacy in a way that can take Thailand out of the years-old and sometimes violent crisis.

The party ran a slick election campaign highlighted by the nomination of Yingluck Shinawatra, the younger sister of ex-prime minister Thaksin, as possibly Thailand's first female prime minister.

The election results at press time give a mandate for the Pheu Thai Party to form the next government.

And it should proceed to do so.

While the Democrat Party will have to lick its wounds

from this election loss and prepare to play a role as a good opposition, Pheu Thai carries on its shoulders a massive responsibility to create a government whose legitimacy does not rest solely on a numerical majority in the House of Representatives.

The party executives should learn this lesson from the misfortunes that beset its predecessors - the Thai Rak Thai and People Power parties.

As ruling parties, both at times eroded the reserve of goodwill that hinges on maintaining political legitimacy - and consequently encouraged unwarranted street politics and military intervention.

And with this we welcome Yingluck's political-reconciliation olive branch to heal the divided nation.

We welcome the pro-change and pro-reform approach to government as highlighted by Dr Olarn Chaipravat, chief economic-policy strategist of the Pheu Thai Party, because Thailand economically and politically has reached a critical juncture as a nation-state.

Political legitimacy contains both written and unwritten rules.

This is about the exercise of good and honest leadership. It is about tackling both financial and political corruption.

It is about maintaining justice, fairness, and freedom of the press.

This leaves no room for amnesty to any person. Nor is the road paved with roses for the expected next female and inexperienced Thai prime minister, as Yingluck's professional political career is just six weeks old.

With the party expected to have a slim majority in the House, Thai voters have handed Pheu Thai a limited mandate.

From Asiaone, "Pheu Thai has mandate and must use it well".


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