Suthep, Bhum Jai Thai, and the Buriram connection
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Suthep, Bhum Jai Thai, and the Buriram connection

Just over a week ago, the Bangkok Post had an interesting snippet:

Sohpon Zarum, a key figure in the Bhumjaithai Party, often popped backstage at the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) rally sites some time ago before the venues were merged into the Lumpini Park stage.

The former transport minister is a close friend of Newin Chidchob, the party’s founder and an influential politician in Buri Ram. Mr Newin is staying away from politics and is now totally devoted to promoting his football team, Buriram United.

Other Bhumjaithai members who have visited the PDRC rally stages include former deputy interior minister Boonjong Wongtrairat and former MP for Maha Sarakham Suchart Chokechaiwatthana. They have all been warmly welcomed by PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban.

When the Feb 2 general election was called, Mr Sohpon, along with other Bhumjaithai members, made clear their stance against the poll while pledging support for the PDRC’s campaign for national reform to take place before the election.

Mr Sohpon said villagers from Lam Plai Mat district in Buri Ram have been going to the rallies in Bangkok over the past four months. Mr Sohpon himself is from Lam Plai Mat.

He insists he is supporting the PDRC on a purely personal basis and that his stand has nothing to do with the party. He has informed party leader Anutin Charnvirakul of his actions.

Many wonder why he decided to join the PDRC-led rallies, given the unfavourable comments about Mr Suthep’s past.

“I don’t care about Mr Suthep’s past. Today, he is doing the right thing. I truly want to take part in national reform, like other people,’’ Mr Sohpon said.

When Mr Suthep first called for major rallies, about 2,000 Buri Ram people were mobilised to take part.

On normal days, between 200 and 300 from the province turn up. Satellite dishes have also been installed in Lam Plai Mat and other districts in Buri Ram so that villagers can watch the Blue Sky channel which broadcasts the PDRC’s activities.

Mr Sohpon says all debts of gratitude he previously owed ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra have now been cleared.

Mr Sohpon added he worked to help Thaksin until the PPP was dissolved by the Constitution Court, after which he defected to the Bhumjaithai Party.

He admits that he only now realises the causes of the country’s problems. He did not speak out against them in the past because of fear of Thaksin’s influence, the Pheu Thai Party and the red-shirt movement. That was until the PDRC emerged and launched the anti-government rallies.

BP: Hmm. Sophon as quoted by the Bangkok Post on December 15, 2013:

Sophon Zarum and Songsak Thongsri of the Bhumjaithai Party supported the election although they said rules should be set for all parties to accept before entering the polls.

BP: More importantly it didn’t stop him from contesting the election. The election results for February 2 are not official, but for those who have voted so far and the votes counted are as reported below:

Khao Sod and ASTV Manager both report that the Puea Thai candidate in Buriram Constituency No. 4 was leading Sophon by 38,119 to 25,208 votes.

ASTV Manager also reports that for Nakhon Ratchasima Constituency No. 10 that Deputy Bhum Jai Thai leader Boonjong lost to a new candidate from Puea Thai.

BP: Nothing like being out of power and having fewer resources and then losing an election race to Puea Thai candidates to forget about Suthep’s past and to show you why Thaksin is so bad and the need for reform. Or is BP being too cynical?…