Two-plus years have passed since Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra took office. Probation period is long over. It's time to step up on her leadership.
It's also time the people should make more demands of the prime minister, rather than continue to make excuses for her. No doubt she has worked hard on foreign relations, but now it's time to work hard on solving internal woes.
The Constitution Court has taken its hands off the 2-trillion-baht borrowing scheme and the draft amendment on how the senators are selected. Barring a possible future U-turn, it's time for the prime minister to roll up her sleeves and get to work.
Take undesirable elements out and put capable people on the jobs. Convince, motivate and inspire the people of Thailand to move forward, drag the rest kicking and screaming along for the ride. But do so with democratic governance.
That means having transparency in all the schemes and policies, unlike the secretive rice-pledging scheme. That means being a responsible and accountable leader, unlike during the 2011 flood crisis. That means tackling corruption openly and bringing real reforms to the national disease of bad education and feudal governance, not simply giving lip service and PR talks during globetrotting adventures.
Loyal tribal members will always give blind support, deny and offer up excuses on behalf of the prime minister. Don't worry about them. Like a worker on Soi Cowboy, they're an easy sell and a sure thing - no offence to actual Soi Cowboy workers. The same goes for those on the other side of the colour divide.
The goal for the prime minister should be to provide vision and direction, to take action and achieve results. The fact of the matter is the prime minister has proven to be capable. Case in point, she knows how to sideline undesirable elements as well as appoint capable people.
While red-shirt leaders have their deals and ministerial jobs, the prime minister managed to move red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan out. Given his role in helping Pheu Thai win the 2011 general election and his influence over red-shirt voters, that was no easy thing.
Furthermore, Chalerm Yubamrung was for a time arguably the second most powerful minister next to the premier. Now he has been sidelined to the Ministry of Labour. Both men have been vocal in expressing their anger over their removal.
This is as opposed to red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar, who is perhaps of the same ilk as Jatuporn and Chalerm, but has so far managed himself well in keeping his head down and his mouth shut _ notwithstanding a certain ill-conceived music video. Hence, he's still the Deputy Minister of Agriculture.
Those who speak the loudest are often the first to go - that's the way of life. Now if Ms Yingluck can somehow manage to sideline Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi, there would be a cause to celebrate, though we would miss his astounding creativity and exceptional theatrical skills.
If one doesn't know why it is those individuals are "undesirable", then ask a Soi Cowboy worker. Also, one should not underestimate or overlook these moves. This is Thailand. Sidelining powerful, influential people is no easy task. But against the challenges ahead of our country, those cases above are but small steps, though they are steps nonetheless.
Also, love or hate Thaksin Shinawatra, it was widely accepted that at the time of the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) government, his cabinet was staffed by very capable people. Chaturon Chaisaeng was one.
He was recently appointed Education Minister. Whether he will bring any real reform to the sector is an issue remains to be seen.
We must give the man time to work. So far he has been saying the right things, and so we shall see.
Then there is Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt, who has been well received by the business community. As the man in charge of Thailand's infrastructure, the bulk of the two-trillion-baht borrowing scheme, it remains to be seen what Chadchart can do.
Both are flawed, yes, as is anyone. Criticisms can be made against both, of course, as they can be made against anyone (well, almost anyone). Both men also have very important jobs, education and infrastructure, under the overall leadership of the prime minister.
As with the management of a sports team, a company, an exploration or even a sightseeing tour, success and disaster begins and ends with leadership management.
In the beginning of her term, the prime minister was perhaps a newbie _ wide-eyed and inexperienced. Therefore her leadership ability suffered deserved criticism based on facts (for example, the management of the 2011 flood crisis) and also undeserved criticism based on colour-coded politics (for example, how she dresses). But two-plus years have passed.
Of course, there's an ongoing debate over her intelligence that is bogged down by colour-coded prejudices, of which I have no interest. We shouldn't assume the worst about the prime minister; there's nothing constructive about it. Rather, we should challenge her to do the best. She's the prime minister. The baht stops with her.
Obviously, one may argue that the baht stops somewhere in Dubai and occasionally in Hong Kong. But instead of using this to dismiss her, we should rather challenge her to prove to the country that she's no one's pawn, puppet or clone.
Actions speak louder than words. A result speaks for itself. It's up to the prime minister to prove her opponents wrong. Meanwhile, we the people, regardless of party affiliations, should constantly challenge our prime minister and the rest of the government to do their best for the country. Consider it a democratic duty.
Meanwhile, leave the blind loyalty, flat denial and poor excuse-making to Soi Cowboy workers. They are an easy-sell and a sure thing. No offence to actual Soi Cowboy workers.
Contact Voranai Vanijaka via email at email@example.com.
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