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Thailand’s ‘Thienthong clan’ 5 Members Running In General Election Held on May 14



Thailand's 'Thienthong clan' 5 Members Running In May's General Election

(CTN News) – The Thienthong dynasty, one of Thailand’s longest-standing political dynasties, has five members running for two distinct parties in the general election next month. Politics is a family affair for them.

They are one of many families that are entwined into Thai politics; the most well-known is the Shinawatra family, whose patriarch Thaksin served as prime minister from 2001 to 2006 and still commands a great deal of attention from his exile overseas.

Thienthong Family Wealth

Even though the financial benefits of holding elective office—an MP makes about US$3,500 per month—might be negligible to these extremely wealthy clans, the influence it brings can be very beneficial to their commercial interests.

The Thienthong family has dominated the region’s politics since the 1970s and amassed their money from a prosperous logistics business in their eastern stronghold, which includes a significant border crossing to Cambodia.

Their name is plastered on campaign posters along the unpaved country roads of the impoverished, rural Sa Kaeo region in the run-up to the May 14 election.

ORIGINAL STORY: Thailand’s General Election Will be Held on May 14

The three constituency seats up for election in Sa Kaeo are being contested by Kwanruen Thienthong, her daughter Treenuch, and her nephew Sorawong.

The two ladies are with the army-backed Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), which was the leader of the last ruling coalition, while Sorawong is running for Pheu Thai, the main opposition party that is doing well in the elections.

Both Surachart and Surakiat are running for Pheu Thai on the party list and in a constituency in Bangkok, respectively.

Politics is politics, period. Families are families. We disagree on politics, but we are still family, says Sorawong to AFP.

More than 20 years ago, Treenuch started her career as an MP with the Pheu Thai predecessor party. She then shifted to the PPRP, won reelection in 2019, and now holds the position of minister of education.

Voters in Sa Kaeo are more concerned with a family’s track record on the ground than with party affiliation or political philosophy.

At a boisterous rally, Treenuch supporter Sirinthip Sawangkloi told AFP, “They go down to every area and when there is work or there are requests for help from the locals, they help.”

Strong Presence In Rural Thailand

These wealthy, powerful clans have a strong presence in rural Thailand, and both personal and political initiatives help them maintain local support.

Boonma Noinamkhum, another fan of Treenuch, told AFP: “When my cousin died, I went to ask them to be in charge of the burial and they did, so that’s why I cannot abandon them.

They can provide some level of regional security and power to voters in a country with a turbulent political history that has seen 12 coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.

According to Chulalongkorn University economist Pasuk Phongpaichit, this blossomed during the upheavals that shook Thailand in the 1970s and 1980s.

When there was no rule of law, Pasuk told AFP, “they could make a lot of money and influence because of the symbiotic relationship with the local military, local police, and influential bureaucrats.”

“Once they were wealthy, they could take control of the local MPs. They then recognized an opening to enter politics.

ORIGINAL STORY: Thailand PM Seeks Parliament Dissolution Ahead of the Election

However, Thaksin, a former telecom tycoon who was overthrown in a coup in 2006 and is currently living in self-exile abroad to avoid corruption charges, which he claims are politically motivated, was not able to be saved by political power.

Despite these setbacks, Forbes still values his net worth at over $2 billion, ranking him 14th among Thai billionaires, far behind the Chearavanont brothers, owners of CP Group, Thailand’s largest conglomerate.

Furthermore, the Shinawatra family’s influence in Thai politics has not diminished: Thaksin’s daughter is one of Pheu Thai’s candidates for the position this time, and his sister Yingluck served as PM from 2011 to 2014.

Role In Thai Politics

The Thienthong family has had a role in Thai politics for close to 50 years, serving in both the National Assembly and the cabinet. In the 1990s, they had a reputation for being able to make or destroy governments.

In addition to the five candidates this year, Treenuch’s brother Thanit won five elections as an MP, most recently defeating Sonthidej, another Thienthong.

The forthcoming election, however, could signal a turning point for these clans in the aftermath of the youth-led street movements demanding political change in 2020, according to Pasuk.

This election uses two different systems. both the political family-dominated one and the new wave of young people who are more prone to favour parties with strong ideologies and long-term plans. Who will triumph this time? It is extremely hazy,” she told.

However, the dynasties have displayed astounding fortitude and adaptability to endure in the chaotic world of Thai politics.

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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