PM learning the ropes of politics quickly
Political and personality observers might have seen the changes in Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra since the day she first took the reins of government on August 8 last year.She is now more skilled at what and when to speak. Her government is the third political manifestation of her brother Thaksin's parties. First, the Thai Rak Thai Party was dissolved and 111 of its executives had to served a five-year ban. The next incarnation of that party, the People Power Party, also faced the same fate with that party also being dissolved.
Yingluck's government was faced with a huge national crisis during the floods in late 2011. The newbie PM was severely challenged by the events. In addition to adjusting from being a business executive to a politician, she found it hard to deal with the flood problems, especially when the budget could not be withdrawn for use as easily as in her companies.
The picture people remember well is of the first female premier of Thailand crying, and some polls even showed people were crying out for her "leadership."
That was when the members of House No 111 had to get in.
When Yingluck, who is not a natural orator, first started her work, she needed a note or script when she had to speak. Her mistakes, like mixing up Vetiver grass with Bermuda grass and calling Hat Yai a province became the talk of the town and gave ammunition to her critics.
She, therefore, usually avoided the media and let her advisers, both from the House No 111 and others, deal with the journalists. The advisers include Suranand Vejjajiva and Sansanee Nakpong who, after the political ban ended, became the PM's secretary-general and government spokesperson respectively.
Meanwhile, political veteran Phumtham Wechayachai came in to reorganise the Pheu Thai as the party's director.
Now with better advice, Yingluck manages to get maximum mileage from her dealings with the media. She knows better what and when to answer and how long she should wait before speaking on issues to minimise opposition or confrontation. On a day when she joins for an event, she does not take questions from the media on other issues, to make sure that the focus is on the event she attended.
Her weekly programmes are all recorded in advance to eliminate any chances of any mistakes creeping in, and it is one-way communication.
She might have received advice from her mentors to avoid confrontation, and that should be enough to keep her in the post. However, one image she has not been able to change is that she is only a representative of her brother Thaksin, who is the de facto premier.