Watanya Bunnag, better known locally as “Madam Dear”, officially declared her candidacy today for Democrat party leader.
The election is scheduled for December 9, to replace Jurin Laksanawisit who resigned after the May 14 general election to accept responsibility for the party’s humiliating election losses.
Watanya, currently head of the political innovations working committee, arrived at the party’s headquarters this morning, as a motorcycle passenger due to heavy traffic congestion.
Then she paid respects to the Shrine of Mae Thorani, the statute of a deity revered by the Democrat party, before giving a press conference.
She said she would like to convey her message to all supporters of the party and the general public of her intention to offer herself as a candidate in the election of the new party leader.
She talked about her intention to rehabilitate and restore public confidence in the party, adding that she hopes it and its members are open-minded enough to give a chance to candidates who are suitable and capable of leading the party.
Watanya, who joined the Democrat party in September last year after resigning as an MP from the Palang Pracharath party, said that she has informed several senior members of the party about her intention to run in the leadership election.
She also had a chance meeting with former party leader Chuan Leekpai at the party’s head office this morning and told him about her candidacy today.
Asked by the media what advice he had offered, Chuan said that he dared not do so because she is quite smart.
At the age of 39, which is considered by many people as too young and inexperienced to become the leader of Thailand’s oldest party, Watanya said that, although experience is a necessary element, she has the energy and fire to take on the challenges ahead.
Success does not depend on one person, but on the joint efforts of all party members, she said.
Her candidacy is, however, still in doubt because she does not have the required qualifications, such as being a party member for at least five years or being an MP or former MP of the party. This means her candidacy must be approved by three quarters of the votes at the party’s general meeting.
The other candidate standing for the leadership is Naraphat Kaewthong, the acting deputy secretary-general.