Nattawut Saikua

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Nattawut Saikua
ณัฐวุฒิ ใสยเกื้อ
Nattawut Saikua (1).jpg
Nattawut Saikua addressing a Bangkok UDD rally, March 13, 2010
Deputy Minister of Commerce
Incumbent
Assumed office
28 October 2012
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives
In office
18 January 2012 – 28 October 2012
Secretary General of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship
Incumbent
Assumed office
2006
President Veera Musikapong
Spokesman of the Office of the Prime Minister
In office
7 October 2008 – 17 December 2008
Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat
Personal details
Born (1975-06-04) June 4, 1975 (age 39)
Sichon, Nakhon Si Thammarat
 Thailand
Nationality Thai
Political party Pheu Thai Party
Other political
affiliations
UDD ("Red Shirts")
Spouse(s) Sirisakul Saikua
Children Napok Saikua
Chard-aporn Saikua
Alma mater Dhurakij Pundit University,
National Institute of Development Administration
Occupation Political activist, spokesman
Religion Buddhist

Nattawut Saikua (Thai: ณัฐวุฒิ ใสยเกื้อ; RTGS: Natthawut Sai-kuea; born June 4, 1975) is a Thai politician. He is the secretary-general and spokesman of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship ("Red Shirts"), and a Member of Parliament for the Pheu Thai Party list. In 2008, he was spokesman for the Somchai Wongsawat government. Since January 2012, he has served as Deputy Minister in Yingluck Shinawatra's cabinet.

Education and family[edit]

Nattawut was born in Sichon District, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province. He has one older brother, Jettanan. Nattawut studied communication studies at the Dhurakij Pundit University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1998. Later, he attended the Master of Public and Private Management programme of the National Institute of Development Administration,[1] graduating in 2005. He is married to Sirisakul Saikua, and they have one son and one daughter.

Orator and TV star[edit]

Nattawut has a reputation as a stirring orator.[2] Already as a high school student, he successfully participated in debating contests,[1] including an appearance on Thai TV Channel 3. Later, he worked as a speech trainer.[1] Nattawut gained fame on the Thai television program Sapa Joke ("Joke Parliament") on iTV, a show that travestied Thai parliament and politics. He "dubbed" Trairong Suwankiri, who was the deputy leader of the Democrat Party.

Political career and activism[edit]

Nattawut joined the National Development Party in 2001 and moved to the Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT) of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2005. Inside TRT, he formed a faction together with his "buddies" and political allies Jatuporn Prompan and Veera Musikapong.[1] After the overthrow of Thaksin and the forced dissolution of TRT, he represented the People's Power Party in the 2007 Thai elections. He became Deputy Spokesman for the Samak Sundaravej government on February 6, 2008. On October 7, 2008, he became the spokesman for the Somchai Wongsawat government.

Nattawut, alongside Jatuporn and Veera, is one of the leaders of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), colloquially called the "Red Shirts".[3] The UDD is a political pressure group that campaigned and fiercely protested against the 2006 Thai coup d'état, which overthrew the government of Thaksin Shinawatra, against the military-installed government and the government of Abhisit Vejjajiva. Nattawut and his friends had a role in the initiation of the pro-Thaksin People's Television channel. Moreover, they hosted the political talkshow Truth Today.[1]

Nattawut co-organised the mass protests in 2009 and, together with the other UDD heads, led the "Red Shirts" in the fierce protests from March to May 2010 that led to the bloody military crackdowns of April and May.[2] Nattawut, Jatuporn Prompan and other Red-Shirt leaders surrendered themselves to police to prevent further bloodshed during the violent military crackdown on 19 May 2010.[4] Afterwards, Nattawut was prosecuted on terrorism charges.[2] He was released on bail terms on 22 February 2011.[5]

At the Thai general election, 2011 Nattawut Saikua was elected Member of Parliament on the winning Pheu Thai Party list.[6] When Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra reshuffled her cabinet on 18 January 2012, Nattawut was named Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives.[2][7][8] After the Cabinet reshuffle on 28 October 2012, he changed to the Ministry of Commerce.

Controversies[edit]

In a 2010 speech, Nattawut insinuated that Jarungjit Thikara, a lady-in-waiting of Queen Sirikit, ordered the army to crack down on the 2010 protests on the queen's behalf.[9][10]

On 22 June 2013, a music video surfaced on YouTube featuring Nattawut singing about and promoting grocery stores. The video received harsh criticism, with some viewers stating it was a waste of government spending.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Reynolds, Craig (27 October 2010), "Review of Nattawut Saikua biography", New Mandala (ANU College of Asia & the Pacific), retrieved 19 January 2012 
  2. ^ a b c d Doksone, Thanyarat (18 January 2012), Thai 'Red Shirt' Firebrand Appointed to Cabinet, ABC News, retrieved 19 January 2012 
  3. ^ ตั้ง ณัฐวุฒิ ใสยเกื้อ เป็นโฆษก แย้มคืนนี้อาจมีระเบิด
  4. ^ Wall Street Journal, May 20, 2010
  5. ^ Pitman, Todd (27 February 2011), "Thailand's 'Red Shirts' urge release of colleagues", The Washington Post, retrieved 19 January 2012 
  6. ^ Fredrickson, Terry (27 July 2011), "Announcement day", Bangkok Post, retrieved 19 January 2012 
  7. ^ Drastic overhauling for Thai Cabinet, Asia One, 18 January 2012, retrieved 19 January 2012 
  8. ^ Blacklisted Businesswoman, Red Shirt Leader Join Thai Cabinet, Voice of America, 18 January 2012, retrieved 19 January 2012 
  9. ^ Buchanan, James, "Translating Thailand’s Protests: An Analysis of Red Shirt Rhetoric", ASEAS – Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies 6 (1): 70–71 
  10. ^ Nattawut attacks Jarungjit (Video Webcast, exact date unknown, at Red Shirt rally) 
  11. ^ Williams, Alex (28 June 2013). "Thailand’s Deputy Commerce Minister mocked for promotion video". Inside Investor. Retrieved 28 June 2013.