Wadah faction leader Wan Muhamad Noor Matha yesterday announced that he would not seek a role in the next Cabinet in order to accept responsibility for his Thai Rak Thai Party’s crushing election defeat in the three southernmost provinces.
“I led the campaign [in the deep South], and we lost. Therefore it would be inappropriate for me to accept any reward,” he said.
Poised to leave his agriculture portfolio, he said he would devote his time to serving as a party-list MP.
“Departing from government will be a good opportunity for me to spend more time in the southern constituencies preparing for the next poll,” he said.
He promised that his faction members would continue to serve their respective constituencies, even though they were not elected as MPs.
Responding to criticism that his faction had failed to respond to grievances among the public triggered by the government’s handling of southern security, he admitted government lawmakers were in a dilemma.
“As government MPs, we are not at liberty to speak our minds. We are also obliged to support the government’s security measures,” he said.
“The bottom line is that we did the right thing but displeased the people in the process.”
He expressed optimism that he could restore public confidence in his faction in the next four years.
“Many years ago voters turned away from my faction following a social disturbance in Pattani, but I managed to regain their trust,” he said.
Wan Noor said Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh had encouraged faction members to continue with their political activities during a working lunch.
“The present prospects may appear bleak, but in four years things will change for the better,” Wadah member Areepen Uttarasin quoted Chavalit as saying.
Areepen said that he and Wan Noor would represent their faction as party-list MPs, dismissing speculation that they might give up their seats to protest the government’s security policies in the three southernmost provinces.
“The Wadah faction wants the security situation solved in a lasting manner, and it would not seek short-term popularity over the issue,” he said.
He said Wadah faction member Burahanudin Useng had hastily criticised the government in an emotional outburst following his election defeat.
“Burahanudin was very disappointed about his failed re-election bid in Yala, and his statement should not be taken seriously,” he said.
Another Wadah member, Najmuddin Umar, said his faction would convene a meeting today to assess its election defeat.
The assessment will be forwarded to Thai Rak Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra as a lesson for future polls, he said.
Published on February 12, 2005