Democrat Party faces collapse as businesses withdraw support after huge Thaksin win

DEMOCRATS AT A CROSSROADS: Party mulls membership fees - The Nation, May 13, 2005
...The party is rumoured to be facing financial problems due to the withdrawal of support from business leaders following their election defeat in February...

[2015 note: Like many Thai newspaper articles from the early days of the Thai internet, this article is no longer online. Below is the complete text of the original article.]

DEMOCRATS AT A CROSSROADS: Party mulls membership fees

Published on May 13, 2005

Organisation rumoured to be facing financial problems after businesses withdraw support

More than four million members of the Democrat Party may have to pay membership fees in the near future if party executives approve a fund-raising proposal, the party's director said yesterday.

If the executive board agrees with the plan, the party would then fix a sum, between Bt100 and Bt500, that members would pay monthly to secure their membership. But, local party leaders have voted against the plan, saying it will backfire and drive current members away.

"If we ask them to pay, they all will all leave because it was us who invited them to become members," said Adisak Kulawong, former branch director of Ubon Ratchathani's Constituency 6. He said none of the approximately 53,000 Democrat members in his area would agree to pay for their loyalty.

No date has been set for considering the plan, but it will be on the agenda shortly, according to Pusadee Tarmthai, the Democrat Party director.

"The plan will urge members to take part in our activities," Pusadee said. "When they pay for something, they will feel they own it."

Currently party members pay no membership fees. Many of them rarely or never participate in the party's activities.

The party is rumoured to be facing financial problems due to the withdrawal of support from business leaders following their election defeat in February.

Thaweesak Kamolvej, Bangkok councillor of Bang Phlat district, said that he could not see any way of achieving success with the plan.

"We've campaigned so hard to convince our members to join us," he said. "But a membership fee will drive them away."

Around 6,000 people in Bang Phlat are Democrat party members, he said.

Phongmanu Thongnak, a former branch director of Phitsanulok's Constituency 6, said that asking local members to pay fees is unthinkable.

"It doesn't matter how much money a local member has to pay - Bt100 or Bt500 - they won't pay anyway," he insisted.

The Democrat Party currently relies on grants from the Election Commission and donations from leading party members for financial support.

Democrat MPs, local councillors and executives also pay the party a fixed amount of money that is deducted from their monthly wages.

Pusadee said the party would urge all 195 party branches around the country to hold local activities, such as debates and seminars, to increase membership numbers.

The Democrat headquarters would continue to support local branches, despite financial difficulties, by covering employee's payrolls and utility bills, she said.

Weerayut Chokchaimadon
This entry was posted in The Thaksin Years. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.