PM matures in the school of hard knocks

national August 06, 2012 00:00

By Piyanart Srivalo
The Nation

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After one year in office, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has managed to gradually display leadership despite criticism she is nothing short of a nominee PM for her brother, ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra.


Yingluck faced the biggest test of her leadership right from the beginning of her term when the country was hard hit by catastrophic floods last year. Her leadership was called into question and her image was tattered when critics slammed her as inexperienced in handling the national crisis. 
Worse, the politicians the Pheu Thai Party sent to help rescue her were incapable because they had received their posts through the party quota system. For instance Banthoon Supakwanit, with a background as former budget bureau director, was appointed as the PM’s secretary-general. 
“Big Boss” believed Banthoon would help Yingluck manage fiscal matters – but the man failed to efficiently carry out his duty.
Pheu Thai Party MPs and ministers did not take her orders because they took their instructions direct from the Big Boss. “Since the PM is powerless, she is meaningless. 
The person who has the power is the Big Boss,” a minister from Pheu Thai Party said.
Facing such a dilemma, Yingluck was disheartened and almost gave up, prompting the Big Boss to console his sister and threaten to remove ministers with no achievements from their posts. The Big Boss knew he could not afford to let Yingluck fail when the mission to help him return to the country had not been achieved. He ordered the 111 executives and ministers to lend a hand and save Yingluck from being deluged by the flood crisis. 
Among the 111 executives, Suranant Vejjajiva offered great help to Yingluck who has learned much from him on the way to go. With a new secretary, Yingluck has gained confidence and learned to manage power. Suranant takes care not only of image issues for Yingluck but he helps screen all her work.
Although helping her brother to come back is one mission Yingluck has vowed to fulfil, she has to wait for the right timing and focus not only on solving her brother’s problems – otherwise her government may not survive. Yingluck told her brother she must be freed from solving only his political problems and she must be allowed to put all her attention to running the country, the PM's close aide said.
“If Thaksin does not agree, they both will get drowned,” a leader of the Pheu Thai Party said.
On issues like the reconciliation bills and the charter amendment, Yingluck has not exercised her power but let matters rest with Parliament.
Yingluck demonstrated her leadership by delaying her brother's wish to reshuffle the Cabinet after the 111 executives were freed from their political ban in May. Her leadership is becoming more evident as she gains wider experience and confidence in the post.