Abhisit Vejjajiva, 52, served as Thailand’s 27th prime minister from Dec 2008 to Aug 2011. He was in the spotlight again recently when he was announced as a guest columnist for the new Thai-language online news platform, The Standard—a move which angered many on social media. Here, the head of the Democrat Party tells us exactly what happened, while also sharing some words on politics and music.
What have you been doing with your life since leaving power?
I’ve pretty much been doing what a politician should do. I meet people, I discuss their problems, I study the issues that I think are important for the future of the country. I also have to make sure that I hold the party together. I am still the party leader even though political activities are banned.
Tell us what happened with The Standard.
I was approached to be a columnist by the same team when they were at The Momentum. I never took the job, I just said in principle that I would need to see what topics I would write or what the publication’s direction was going to be first. The next thing I knew my photo was on their Facebook page.
It said in your columnist bio that you were going to write about football and rock music. Who are your favorite bands and what’s currently on your playlist?
I listen to everything from Elvis Presley to Chainsmokers. I listen to country. I think Miranda Lambert’s album after her breakup is superb, very emotional. I also listen to rap—Kendrick Lamar, he’s got a lot to say. I think Taylor Swift is a talented songwriter. I’m looking forward to Royal Blood’s second album.
Do you go out drinking in Bangkok at all?
I don’t go out very much because I don’t have the privacy to do that. It’s the one downside of having a public career. Also I like to spend my time with my family.
What do you enjoy doing on a Sunday morning?
Often my work takes me around the country, but if it’s Saturday or Sunday and I don’t have a work function, I stay in bed a little later than normal and just relax, listen to music or read books.
What book are you currently reading?
I have so many books on my Kindle, so I carry 10-20 unfinished books with me. I read books on mathematics as well, as my wife is a mathematician. I have to confess, I’m not so good at reading fiction.
Do you think the election will actually happen next year?
We should all aim to stick to the timetable in the constitution. The country needs to return to democracy. I think the country has already paid a considerable price by being in a transitional arrangement for over three years. The whole country is in need of radical restructuring. We have to improve quickly, but I’m also not demanding that we have to have an election tomorrow.
If you could be Prime Minister again, what would you do differently?
The country and our politics still demand a far higher standard of transparency, and we still have to aim to eliminate corruption. If I had another shot, it should be my last shot. I would have to be much more decisive in getting things done because I would not have another opportunity.
What do you love about Bangkok?
The liveliness of the place. Every time I go abroad to places that are calm, I always miss the noise and diversity of this city.
What don’t you like about Bangkok?
The traffic when it stops you from getting anywhere. And not to mention flooding when it rains.