The powerful faction of Yaowapa Wongsawat, sister of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, is expected to become even more formidable when it is joined by the Matchima faction of the Bhum Jai Thai Party.
It will be only a matter of time before the Matchima faction of Somsak Thepsuthin joins Pheu Thai to bolster the Wang Bua Ban faction of Yaowapa.
It has been well known among political circles that Matchima has had good ties with the Wang Bua Ban faction as both were in the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party.
Now Matchima is an alienated faction in Bhum Jai Thai, although Bhum Jai Thai has a new leader and a new secretary-general – Anuthin Charnweerakul and Saksayam Chidchob, respectively.
Earlier, it was reported that big boss Thaksin set a condition for Somsak to join the coalition when he visited Thaksin in Hong Kong on the occasion of the former prime minister’s birthday. Thaksin told Somsak he should bring with him all the 34 MPs of Bhum Jai Thai, not just the 7 MPs of Matchima, to join the coalition if he wanted a Cabinet seat.
The condition failed to improve ties between Matchima and the mainstream Bhum Jai Thai. The seven members of Matchima continued to distance themselves from the party and refrained from joining in its activities. They did not even participate in the election of the new party executive board, which was the most important party activity.
The no-show for the party board election was the final straw for the mainstream Bhum Jai Thai. New leader Anuthin, who controls 27 MPs, has reportedly vowed to ignore the Matchima faction.
Anuthin is known to have very good ties with Newin Chidchob, the former de facto leader of Bhum Jai Thai. After Newin announced his departure from politics, Anuthin took control of the party with the mission of restoring ties between Bhum Jai Thai and the big boss and Pheu Thai.
The mission was to win acceptance from the big boss so that Bhum Jai Thai could become a coalition partner after Newin had reportedly made several efforts but failed to normalise ties with his former boss.
Anuthin also has an agenda to restore ties with the coalition leader and join the coalition: he wants to protect the interests of Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction so that it will remain a giant conglomerate with the chance to win several mega subway projects.
As a result, both mainstream Bhum Jai Thai and Matchima want to switch sides – Matchima to join Pheu Thai and Bhum Jai Thai to become a coalition partner.
The seven MPs from Matchima may express their gesture of friendship with Pheu Thai by not signing the censure motion of the Democrat Party later this month.
Given the long ties between Somsak and Yaowapa, Matchima has a strong chance of getting integrated into Pheu Thai. And the chance has apparently increased after Somsak led the seven MPs of his faction to dine with Yaowapa and Somchai Wongsawat on Tuesday evening.
They reportedly discussed the prospects of Matchima joining Pheu Thai. In the initial agreement, Somsak and Anucha Nakasai, both former Thai Rak Thai executives, would first join Pheu Thai as members, paving the way for the seven MPs to join the party later when a chance permits. The laws do not allow MPs to switch parties during their term or they will lose their status.
As part of the agreement, Yaowapa would nominate Somsak as a minister under her quota when the next Cabinet reshuffle takes place. And when the next election is held, the seven MPs of Somsak’s faction will enter Pheu Thai’s fold. And the agreement requires the seven MPs to refrain from signing the censure motion.
Now, Yaowapa has four ministers under her quota plus a government spokesman. With support from the Matchima faction, her quota will definitely be increased by a Cabinet seat. So, with the presence of Matchima, Yaowapa’s faction will definitely become formidable.