Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra remained at her residence yesterday as the Pheu Thai Party began its election campaign, which included a major rally at Muang Thong Thani, just north of Bangkok.
Sources at the ruling Pheu Thai Party's headquarters said Yingluck would only join future campaigns if they were key events, or took place out of office hours, saying she now wanted to dedicate her time to serving as the caretaker premier and defence minister.
The Pheu Thai Party has so far launched its campaign in five provinces, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ubon Ratchathani, Khon Khaen, and Nakhon Sawan.
According to the source, the theme for the first stage of its campaign would focus on respecting the will of the voter in order to protect democracy. This would be followed by a theme which targets national reform and corruption eradication, while the last phase of campaign would ask voters to allow the party to implement its on-going policies and projects.
In other political developments, the Krabi provincial branch of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PRDC), which has vowed to participate in the shutdown of Bangkok on January 13, said it would not rule out a possible blockade of roads leading to airports. However, its leader, Detchart Damdee, said the matter would not be decided until the issue had been discussed.
Meanwhile, in Nakhon Si Thammarat PDRC provincial leaders demanded that Virat Nimvichit, provincial director of state-controlled Channel 11 TV, resign immediately -accusing him of siding with Pheu Thai MP candidates.
The Election Commission said yesterday that 1,261 district candidates had registered, while in 28 districts in eight southern provinces there had been no candidate registration. The provinces included Nakhon Si Thammarat, Krabi, Trang, Chumphon, Phatthalung, Songkhla, Surat Thani and Phuket.
In a related development, chief adviser to Chart Pattana Party Suwat Liptapanlop told party candidates to move towards political reconciliation and to avoid any conflict with other parties. He said although the party expected to win between 10 to 30 seats, it wanted to see an improvement in the "quality" of the House of Representatives. Suwat told candidates not to make enemies of fellow candidates from other parties. He also called on all parties to start afresh after the election.
Suwat said he also lamented the lack of senior political figures who could help mend the current political rift - such as the late General Chatichai Choonhavan - a former premier and leader of the party. Things could have been resolved with such a figure inviting conflicting parties "to a meal where they could sip wine", he said.