ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
January 29, 2008
People Power Party (PPP) leader Samak Sundaravej, responding to a salvo of questions from the media shortly after being elected Thailand's 25th prime minister by the lower house of Parliament on Monday, said he was fully aware that his new task at the helm of the kingdom's administrative branch would not be fun but "I like it."
Mr. Samak, 72, receiving 310 supporting votes from MPs in the coalition government, beat his opponent, Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva who won 163 votes. Three members abstained and one was absent in the session.
The PPP leader said the new Cabinet line-up would be announced a few days after he is royally bestowed the premiership by His Majesty the King.
Mr. Samak said he was not concerned about the ongoing negotiations for ministerial posts within the six coalition parties for "everything has been prepared and we have a coordinating committee to handle this issue."
Asked what was the first thing he wanted to do after stepping into the premier's shoes, Samak replied without hestitation, "I want to go to Or Tor Kor."
Or Tor Kor is an indoor market near the weekend market in Chatuchak vicinity where well-selected food items and agricultural produce are available. Well-off shoppers like to do their shopping there.
When asked how he felt to be elected the prime minister, he shot back, "Why do you have to ask?"
It has been widely reported that the temperamental politician has been asked by many PPP executives especially PPP secretary general Surapong Suebwonglee to watch his words and be patient when responding to reporters' questions.
The PPP leader, having been in the political arena since the age of 33, is one of Thailand's most veteran politicians, having witnessed the rise and fall of the country's democratic system in almost 40 years.
He was in favour of the coup which suppressed the October 1976 student uprising and was afterward appointed interior minister by the then military junta. Ironically, nearly 30 years later he strongly opposed the Sept 19, 2006 coup which ousted the government of the now defunct Thai Rak Thai Party and forced then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to live in exile.
Mr. Samak earlier publicly announced he was a political nominee of Mr. Thaksin.
As said, Samak headed for Or Tor Kor market after the interview. He was warmly welcomed by vendors some of whom joyfully shouted "Mr. Prime Minister."
He said Monday is his usual "shopping day" and he normally spends about 3,000 baht for fresh food but "I surely have to spend more today because there'll be lots of guests at home." He bought fresh shrimps, fish, vegetable and fruit.