BANGKOK: Thailand’s influential former premier Thaksin Shinawatra on Tuesday (May 16) hailed the election-winning Move Forward Party as disruptors who mastered social media, and said ageing army generals central to years of turmoil should retire with dignity.
The self-exiled tycoon, a towering figure in Thai politics whose family is the driving force behind the dominant Pheu Thai party, said Move Forward proved social media and user-generated content (UGC) can triumph over big-spending campaigns and vote-buying.
Before Sunday’s vote, Thaksin’s populist political juggernaut had won every election since 2001, despite being ousted from office three times. It lost to the progressive Move Forward by 10 seats.
“They used UGC on TikTok because the youngsters use TikTok. It’s getting votes and canvassers organically and you don’t use a lot of resources,” Thaksin said during a two-hour political discussion streamed online.
Move Forward had strong appeal and organisation in university towns, Thaksin said, adding many young people convinced their parents to vote for Move Forward.
“Pheu Thai got hammered because we did not disrupt ourselves enough. Move Forward’s trend overcame Pheu Thai and the other parties that had money,” he said.
Move Forward rode a wave of excitement among the youth generated by its liberal agenda and promises of bold change, including tackling monopolies and amending a law that prescribes long jail sentences for insulting the monarchy, a taboo issue.
Pheu Thai has agreed to form a six-party alliance with Move Forward, hoping more will join to keep the defeated pro-military parties out of government in the coup-prone country.