Yingluck elected as new Thailand PM

Updated: 2011-08-06 07:52

(China Daily)

Twitter Facebook Myspace Yahoo! Linkedin Mixx
BANGKOK / BEIJING - Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, was elected on Friday as Thailand's first female prime minister.

Almost 60 percent of parliament - 296 members of the lower house out of a potential 500 - voted in favor of Yingluck to be the 28th prime minister of Thailand, according to Xinhua.

Her position will be formalized once she receives royal endorsement, which was expected to take place on Friday evening.

Yingluck elected as new Thailand PM
Thailand's new Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of the Pheu Thai Party gestures to members of parliament moments after being elected as the country's 28th prime minister in Bangkok on Friday. Sukree Sukplang / Reuters

Analysts said Yingluck could bring "fresh air" to a country where political tension has remained since Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup.

"As a woman, Yingluck, with her gentle character, is hopeful to help achieve reconciliation in Thailand, where intense conflicts have erupted in the past few years," said Song Qingrun, an assistant research fellow with China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

While questions remain over whether Yingluck can hang on to power in a country where the removal of leaders is commonplace, Song said Yingluck's government will be more stable than previous ones.

The vote on Friday comes one month after the Pheu Thai Party swept the country's July 3 elections, winning an absolute majority of 265 seats in the 500-member lower house of Parliament. Since then, Pheu Thai has consolidated those gains, building alliances with smaller parties to form a 300-seat-strong coalition, according to The Associated Press.

Song also said the measures promised by Yingluck, such as raising the minimum wage and rice purchase prices, are beneficial to improving the livelihood of lower and middle income Thai citizens, and boosting the political and social development of the country.

But Yingluck's measures may also create some challenges, since the measures could cost $60 billion in the next five years, which could further aggravate inflation and add to the government's financial burden, Song said.

Yingluck, who said she would work on finalizing her cabinet over the weekend, said her first priority would be addressing the needs of the poor, according to AFP.

"Our first priority is to solve the high cost of living for people," she said.

Yingluck also rejected suggestions that Thaksin, who lives abroad to avoid a jail term for corruption, is controlling her party from afar.

Asked if she was in contact with her brother, she replied: "No, I am not talking to anyone."

Yingluck will act cautiously on Thaksin's return to Thailand since the issue, if addressed improperly, will trigger political conflicts and affect political stability in the country, Song said.

China Daily-Xinhua-AP-AFP

(China Daily 08/06/2011 page7)


Beer we go

Early numbers not so robust for Beijing's first international beer festival

Lifting the veil

Beijing's Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, is steeped in history, dreams and tears, which are perfectly reflected in design.

Allure of mystery

China continues to be a place of fascination for traveling artists from around the world.

My Chinese Valentine
Wen pledges 'open' probe
Turning up the heat