‘No changes’ so far to UTN Party leadership

'No changes' so far to UTN Party leadership

Gen Prayut to stay as chief strategist

Members of the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party yesterday dismissed rumours that they were considering replacing their leader, Pirapan Salirathavi­bhaga, saying they won’t do so because the new party is off to a good start and will continue improving to win public support.

There is no need to change the party leader for the time being, said Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, deputy party leader.

Party secretary-general Akanat Promphan also insisted that the UTN will not change its leader or secretary-general at the moment.

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha will also continue his role as party chief strategist and prime ministerial candidate, even though it appears unlikely the UTN will be able to compete with other parties with far more House seats to form a coalition government, he said.

However, the party has a clear stance against any intentions to amend or abolish the lese majeste law, meaning it will never vote for a prime minister candidate who aims to touch the law, he said.

Also, Mr Thanakorn neither confirmed nor denied rumours that Gen Prayut may leave the UTN after the party failed to secure enough House seats during the May 14 election to join a coalition.

He said he has no idea what Gen Prayut has planned regarding his future in politics, adding all he knows is that he and most of the party’s parliament members have a lot of respect for the prime minister and are willing to follow his lead.

Mr Pirapan last week insisted in a Facebook post that Gen Prayut would continue to be with the party and lead as party chief strategist.

Mr Thanakorn said the party yesterday held its first meeting since the general election, in which the party won 36 House seats.

At the meeting, chaired by Mr Pirapan, the 36 newly-elected MPs discussed the party’s strengths and weaknesses at the polls, he said.

One lesson learnt was that the UTN would aim to involve people of all age groups and utilise social media more effectively, he said.

When he was asked about whether the party would rebrand itself into one that can potentially become more favourable among voters, Mr Thanakorn said rebranding the party was not a bad idea.