Thursday, October 24, 2019

Future Forward Loses Seat in Recent By-Election

October 24, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - ATN) - If you've been listening to the Western media or following social media you'd believe that Future Forward Party (FFP) headed by union-busting nepotist billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit was the most popular political party in Thailand.

Thanathorn himself has received massive amounts of political support from the Western media and even from Western embassies in Bangkok. Several of his party's founding members were in fact drawn from opposition fronts funded by Western governments.

At one point, Thanathorn - when summoned by police for one of his various criminal cases - was accompanied by an entourage of US, Canadian, and European diplomats who appeared undeterred by the hypocrisy of openly interfering in Thailand's internal affairs while accusing Russia and China of meddling in their own nations back home.

The illusion of Future Forward's "popularity" is promoted eagerly despite the party coming in third in general elections earlier this year with over 2 million fewer votes than the prevailing Palang Pracharath Party.

And now - just this week - Future Forward lost a by-election in Nakhon Pathom's Constituency 5 it had previously won. Not only did it lose to a party belonging to the current ruling coalition headed by Palang Pracharath - it lost nearly 6,000 votes since it last competed in Constituency 5.

"Future Forward" or Old-Fashioned Corruption? 

Despite Future Forward's rhetoric about introducing something "new" to Thai politics, the party is merely a rebrand of Thaksin Shinawatra's Pheu Thai Party.

Despite denying ties to Thaksin or his Pheu Thai Party which Thanathorn himself said no longer represents his ideology before general elections earlier this year - Future Forward's headquarters is literally next door to Pheu Thai's on Bangkok's Phetchaburi Road, it campaigned on literally the exact same platform and on the final day of campaigning literally campaigned at the same venue as Pheu Thai.

Since the election, Future Forward predictably joined itself with Pheu Thai - co-organizing events, making joint statements where Future Forward members would go next door to Pheu Thai's offices and share their conference room, and pursue identical agendas which includes promoting Thaksin's long-desired rewriting of the Thai constitution. 

Thanathorn famously declared before elections that Future Forward was "no nominee of Pheu Thai Party," yet as soon as elections were over Thanksin's Pheu Thai literally nominated Thanathorn as their candidate for prime minister - a nomination Thanathorn eagerly accepted.

Despite claiming to be a party built to address the people's needs, Thanathorn and Future Forward have spent the entire time following general elections attempting to rewrite the Thai constitution despite having no electoral mandate to do so. The party has also obsessed over petty attacks on the ruling government over superficial matters rather than with actual policy issues that impact the lives of ordinary Thais.  

Worse still is that Thanathorn - despite promising young people something "new" by fighting inherited wealth, power, and inequality - is himself a vulgar display of all three. 

He is the son of billionaire autoparts tycoons, born into immense wealth and handed positions presiding over the family fortune simply because of his surname. 

His party was funded through his own family's fortune with him at one point joking with Western journalists because he couldn't remember if he spent 105 or 110 million Thai Baht on the 2019 campaign - indicating that the "commoner billionaire" finds 5 million Thai Baht as trivial an amount of money as most people might find the cost of a bottle of water.   

More seriously, Thanathorn claims he "loaned" this money to Future Forward - the party he leads - and that it did not constitute a donation which would have been in violation of Thai election laws. It is just one of many dubious aspects of Thanathorn and Future Forward that has quickly tarnished the well-funded facade he and his media partners worked hard to erect.  

Thanathorn and Future Forward repeatedly reinforce the reality that their rhetoric is a flimsy facade poorly disguising a continuation of - rather than a revolution against - old-style politics and corruption. The most recent example was the party appointing its candidate for the recent by-election via nepotism.

Its previous candidate - Jumpita Chankachorn - stepped down due to injuries sustained in a car accident and her inability to perform her duties. Instead of finding the most qualified candidate to replace Jumpita, they simply fielded her husband, Pairatchote Chantarakhachorn.

Why Might Thousands Fewer Have Voted for Future Forward This Time? 

Supporters of Thanathorn and Future Forward likewise posture as being "pro-democracy" while demonstrating actions that are anything but.

Many commentators weighing in on Bangkok Post's article on the recent loss of Future Forward during the by-election accused Thai voters of being "stupid" and "enjoying dictatorship" for not picking their candidate of choice.

A few commentators correctly pointed out that since the general election and the well-funded public relations campaign mounted by Thanathorn, Future Forward, media Thanathorn's family owns, and the Western media openly supporting his bid for power - Future Forward has spent the entirety of its sime in petty self-serving pursuits, either ignoring pertinent issues facing ordinary Thais, or even complicating them further by threatening national stability with their antics.

One commentator noted:
It doesn't surprise me. The leaders are showing dictatorial behaviour in their recent speeches; and the party has spent all its time in the last few months on the Oath mistake and now on trying to get the Charter changed to suit its political needs. The party is doing nothing for the population.
Voters might also notice hypocrisy manifesting itself within Future Forward through its "investigations" into its own party members who "defied" the party line during a recent parliamentary vote.

Bangkok Post in its article, "Future Forward Party to probe 2nd rebel MP," would report:
Srinual Boonlue is facing a disciplinary probe by the Future Forward Party (FFP), becoming its second MP to be quizzed in two days for defying the party line in a vote in parliament.
If this is how Future Forward handles dissent amongst its own ranks - if it were in power - should anyone believe it would be any less heavy-handed and dictatorial versus more serious dissent from outside the party?

It is truly hard to tell for sure why voters rejected Future Forward during the recent by-election. The artificial hype built up around Future Forward ahead of general elections has surely faded, with a lot of what Future Forward had promised voters already revealed as empty rhetoric. No marketing campaign - however clever or well-funded - can sustain itself especially if what's being marketed lacks any substance.

Besides Future Forward's creep toward a wider confrontation with the current government including the specter of street protests and a tiresome strategy of blaming the ruling government for virtually every ill of society without offering viable alternatives - the party has nothing to offer the voters who invested their hope in it.

Future Forward might now be finding itself a "has-been" before ever "being."

Its daily activities confirm many's suspicions that the party was always ever simply an extension of Thaksin Shinawatra and his political machine. Palang Pracharath's victory was in part owed to Thailand's fatigue over Thaksin-related protests and counter-protests and a genuine desire to move away from political instability.

All Future Forward seems to offer - and as many had predicted before the general elections - is the same corruption, nepotism, and instability Thaksin represented. And this is before even scratching the surface of Thanathorn and Future Forward's ties and loyalty to foreign interests placed well ahead of Thai sovereignty.

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