January 19, 2013 00:00 By Olan Lertrudtanadumrongkul,
Pongsapat-Sudarat split denied as they meet publicly
The Pheu Thai Party has quelled rumours about infighting by holding a much-publicised meeting between its gubernatorial candidate Pongsapat Pongcharoen and veteran politician Sudarat Keyuraphan.
Yesterday, Sudarat also made her first appearance at Government House since the 2006 military coup, where she met Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and PM’s Office Minister Sansanee Nakpong to discuss the state’s Women’s Empowerment Fund.
Pongsapat initiated yesterday’s meeting by visiting Sudarat to introduce himself as a newcomer and first-time candidate in the gubernatorial election.
“Sudarat is a veteran and I want her advice on campaign platforms,” he said, as he went on to thank her in advance.
While greeting Pongsapat, Sudarat said she was willing to do her best to help bring better services to Bangkok residents and make them happy. She also said that she hoped Pongsapat would win so his platforms could be implemented.
The two held a meeting behind closed doors for about half an hour, before Sudarat presented two amulets to Pongsapat for good luck.
She later told reporters that she and Pongsapat had exchanged ideas on how work could be done for the benefit of Bangkokians. She added that Pongsapat was already planning to deal with the traffic problem by building more tunnels. Bangkok MPs who joined the meeting also spoke up about problems in several parts of the city.
“The Pheu Thai Party already has policies that cover many of the problems. We just want Pongsapat to find more information so he can really solve problems and help improve Bangkokians’ quality of life,” she said.
Sudarat denied that she was planning to go onstage in support of Pongsapat on Monday, saying she would rather focus on her religious projects first because focusing too much on politics could stain her “pure will”.
Separately, Sudarat posted a message on Facebook decrying allegations about the party’s rift over the campaign. In response to questions about her absence when Pongsapat’s candidacy was officially announced, she said she had gone to “peaceful” Nepal and had only just returned to “chaotic” Bangkok.
“This place is far too chaotic,” she said, citing the Buddha’s teaching in which he compares the material world with spiritual contemplation.
She reiterated that she would put all her political activities on hold until she completes the renovation of the Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal.
Meanwhile, government spokesman Tossaporn Serirak said Bt23.7 million had been approved for the Women’s Empowerment Fund to hold workshops at a provincial level.
The meeting also agreed to allocate Bt70 million to each of the 35 provinces that have a population of no more than Bt600,000; Bt100 million for the 22 provinces with a population of 600,000 to a million; and Bt130 million each for the 20 provinces that have populations of more than a million, he said.