'I want to work for the people'
Deputy govt spokesperson talks about what she hopes to achieveSunisa Lertpakawat, the Army lieutenant who rocketed into the spotlight after she wrote the book "Thaksin Where Are You?", received a big boost to her budding political career by being appointed deputy government spokeswoman this week.
Popularly known as "Muad Jeab" or "Lieutenant Jeab", Sunisa courted controversy in 2007 when she flew to London to seek an interview with self-exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatra. Their seven-hour talk resulted in "Thaksin Where Are You?" and made her a celebrity. She then penned a sequel, "Thaksin Are You OK?"
Joining Pheu Thai Party, she campaigned unsuccessfully for an MP seat in the 2011 general election and then served as the party's deputy spokeswoman up until her appointment to the government post.
Here, Sunisa talks about her new responsibilities and her political aspirations.
Why were you promoted to deputy government spokeswoman?
I think I got promoted because senior figures in the party recognised my performance for the Pheu Thai candidate's Bangkok gubernatorial campaign and decided to give me this opportunity.
What will be your job?
I'll be responsible for describing the government's projects to the people. In the near future, the government will begin many new infrastructure projects, and they want someone new on the spokesperson team to handle them and allay any concerns the public might have.
What will be the challenges of your new position?
I have no fears about my new duties. It's a good opportunity for me to work for the government, which means I work for the people. And it's my good luck that I used to work as a reporter. I understand how they work. I can get to the main points and make things easy to understand.
What is your highest goal in politics?
Becoming an MP is still my goal because I want to work for people.
I am a taxi driver's daughter but I can become a politician even though my family is not rich. I received 43,420 votes from Bang Khae people in the 2011 general election, and even though I failed to win, people still support me. Today, anyone can call to complain about their troubles. After I got appointed deputy government spokeswoman, several people called to congratulate me. My life's changed since the 2011 polls because the party gave me the chance to be its deputy party spokeswoman.
How often are you in contact with Thaksin?
It's been long time since I spoke with him. The last time I saw him was when he spoke via video during a party meeting. I hope he saw me in the room. Even though I have not talked with Thaksin in a long time, he's always on my mind because he inspired me to get active in politics.
Among spokespersons, who is your idol?
I admire Pongthep Thepkanjana and Chaturon Chaisaeng for the way they can highlight main points and summarise the details. Noppadon Pattama has been a mentor as well. He's taught me everything I need to know to work as a spokeswoman. And I owe a great deal to Pheu Thai Party secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai, who invited me to join the spokesperson team.