Thailand’s fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has described his sister Yingluck as his “clone.” But the 44-year-old, who hopes to become the country’s first woman prime minister representing the opposition Pheu Thai Party in the July 3rd elections, insists that she takes decisions independently.
Yingluck Shinawatra says she shares the same no-nonsense leadership style of her brother, who has been living in exile since 2008, after the Thai Supreme Court found him guilty of criminal corruption. “I don’t just follow him. I have experienced people around me,” she told CNBC.
But Yingluck is still perceived as her brother’s proxy and one of the questions being asked is whether a Pheu Thai victory would result in an automatic amnesty for Thaksin. Yingluck says she will not push for any special treatment, “My brother will get the same benefits equal with others, so I cannot treat him special.”
Campaigning across the country, Yingluck is continuing to push her brother's populist economic policies, including raising the minimum wage, and guaranteeing income for farmers.
She also told CNBC she wants to cut Thailand's 30 percent corporate tax rate to make the Thai economy more competitive and attractive to foreign investment. She says that would also help companies pay higher wages to Thai workers.
Thailand is widely forecast to grow at 4 percent this year. But inflation is running at a 32-month high above 4 percent, and its 60 percent export dependency ratio makes Thailand vulnerable to any global slowdown.
Yingluck may be a front-runner in the coming polls, but Thailand’s current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told CNBC that she was merely a "political novelty."
In the 2009 U.S. diplomatic cables, which Wikileaks recently published, the former American Ambassador to Thailand, Eric John, has described Yingluck as "speaking confidently" in meetings, but "it's obvious politics does not come as naturally to Yingluck as it does to her brother."