July 12 - Thai women cheer their first female prime minister-elect Yingluck Shinawatra, hoping her populist policies will improve their standard of living. Nick Rowlands reports.
Following the election victory of Yingluck Shinawatra, Thais hope their first female prime minister will improve their standard of living and bring stability to the country. The 44-year-old businesswoman is new to politics, and her party's leader is her brother, ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Many workers are happy she has vowed to revive his populist policies -- such as increased wages, infrastructure projects, and computers for school children. (SOUNDBITE) (Thai) 33-YEAR-OLD FEMALE WORKER PIKUL NAMRAT: "I like all the policies, especially wage increases. Right now, I'm receiving six and a half U.S. dollars which is not enough. I like every policy, so I hope the prime minister will be able to do as she promised." Yingluck wants to pursue a national reconciliation to end the often-bloody political crisis that has seen six prime ministers in as many years, and will not seek vengeance for the military overthrowing her brother's regime in 2006. In a country where struggle for equal gender representation in government is ongoing, women are particularly happy at her election. (SOUNDBITE) (Thai) 48-YEAR-OLD SHOP OWNER SIREETHORN SOOSILP: "Yes, I feel good and comfortable to have female premier because we are women. With her compromise, I think it would ease the tension." Some people say her gender is irrelevant. (SOUNDBITE) (Thai) 51-YEAR-OLD OFFICER SURAPOL SUARCHAWARAT: "We should give her a chance as she's dedicated herself to this but we can't just leave our country based on the gender male or female. The country needs to continue to be based on the rule of law." Yingluck's brother Thaksin remains revered by the rural masses at the heart of the red-shirt protest movement who believe he was the first leader to pay attention to their needs. But the urban middle classes and royalist elite say he is a "terrorist and crony capitalist" who plundered the economy while in power from 2001 to 2006. Nick Rowlands, Reuters.