CHIANG MAI – Yaowapa Wongsawat, sister of Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, scored a landslide victory in Sunday’s by-election for MP of Chiang Mai city, running under the tickets of the ruling Puea Thai Party and defeating a woman archrival from the opposition Democrat Party.
According to officials of the Election Commission based in the Thai northern city, Yaowapa, who is also the spouse of former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat as well as a sister of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, won 70,181 votes, compared to only 21,979 votes for her contender, Kingkarn na Chiang Mai, the spouse of former cabinet member Tawatwong na Chiang Mai.
Following the unofficial results of the by-election in her home constituency, Yaowapa commented that she had expected to win as many as 85,000 votes, however. Her own daughter, Chinicha Wongsawat, grabbed over 85,000 votes in 2011′s general election there.
Yaowapa, a former leader of the so-called Wang Bua Baan ( Blooming-Lotus Palace) faction within a dissolved Thai Rak Thai party, will likely act as a leading government whip at parliament and coordinate legislative affairs of the 200-plus Puea Thai MPs while Yingluck will remain preoccupied with her running of the country at Government House.
Earlier speculation that Yaowapa might probably become a “stand- by” choice for next prime minister in place of Yingluck was dampened by the recent decision of the National Anti-Corruption Commission to waive up asset concealment charges against her sister, involving her having loaned 30 million baht (1 million U.S. dollars) in cash to a business firm owned in part by her husband, Anusorn Amornchat, several years ago.