ASIA/THAILAND - National reconciliation, fight against poverty, values: the priority of the first woman Premier

Bangkok (Fides Service) - "Everyone must accept the outcome of the democratic elections. In any case, the priority for the country is a genuine national reconciliation": is the immediate comment released to Fides by Fr. Watchasin Peter, a priest in Bangkok and National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Thailand after the vote yesterday (see Fides 07/02/2011). The general election was won by the "Pheu Thai" party , led by Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of former Thai Prime Minister in exile for corruption. Her party won 264 seats in parliament, while the Democrats of Abhisit Vejjajiva (outgoing Prime Minister) obtained 160.
"Reconciliation – Fr. Peter says - is what Shinawatra has promised. The new leader, who will be the Prime Minister, said that the priorities of the new government will be reconciliation, fight against poverty and economic recovery of the country. In addition she said that a reference point for her will be religious leaders, with their heritage of values and morality that must be very important for a good policy".
On the current situation in Bangkok, the priest says: "People are happy and confident, there was no violence in the electoral campaign. The activists of the 'red shirts' are on the streets to celebrate peacefully. The South of the country voted for Democrats, the North for the red, that surprisingly, have also won Bangkok". The main reasons for the defeat of the Democrats, according to the Director of the PMS, are due to the fact that "the Democrats were not able to meet the expectations and needs of the poorest segments of the population, especially the rural masses. The red, on the other hand, in the past 12 months, continued widespread awareness campaign tirelessly, village by village. They worked very hard: the farmers have finally found people who are interested in their situation and have given them confidence".
Fr. Peter also recalls, "the Special Committee for Reconciliation, established by the government after the violence last year, has not yielded the expected results: the Democratic government has not responded to the questions that the Commission has raised on violence. Who killed? Why did the military burden the civilians? Many other questions remained unanswered. This was a serious error, which is at the root of today’s defeat".
The absolute innovation in Thailand is a woman prime minister: "A woman prime minister, for the first time in history, is a good sign for the country, for the recognition of the role of women, more and more present in finance, politics, leadership of civil society" remarks the Director of the PMS.
Regarding the risks for the future, he says: "I do not believe in the danger of a military coup (the military said that they have accepted the verdict of the elections),nor in the possible return of Thaksin Shinawatra to his homeland. It must be said that the red shirts are a heterogeneous movement and not all are enthusiastic supporters of former Prime minister". "We will see what awaits us: the Catholic faithful – concludes Father Watchasin - have good hopes for the future. They prayed for the elections and are praying for the new government". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 07/04/2011)

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