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INTERVIEW/Thailand PM hopeful takes policy inspiration from Taiwan

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Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the Move Forward Party, talks to CNA in Bangkok on Tuesday. CNA photo May 23, 2023

Bangkok, May 24 (CNA) Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the Move Forward Party (MFP), which finished first Thailand's general election earlier this month, has told CNA that several of the policies adopted by the MFP and its seven prospective coalition partners took inspiration from Taiwan.

In an interview on Tuesday, Pita- whose hopes of becoming prime minister could yet be denied by Thailand's military - answered in the affirmative when asked if some of the coalition's 23 policy proposals were based on those already implemented by Taiwan.

"A lot of our policies are based on the Taiwanese experience," Pita said, referring, in particular to Taiwan's Uniform Invoice lottery, which encourages consumers to ask for a receipt in a bid to tackle tax evasion.

The 42-year-old added that marriage equality was another issue where his party hoped to follow the lead of Taiwan, which became the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage in 2019.

Thailand could also learn from Taiwan's promotion of transparency and good governance, such as using digital platforms to make government information more accessible, Pita said.

On a personal note, Pita said he has previously met with Morris Chang (張忠謀) during the 2022 APEC summit, the founder of the Taiwan-based TSMC, who served as President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) envoy to the summit.

"I also have had a chance to meet Mr. Morris Chang of TSMC on a possible cooperation in terms of economics and education on the chip industry," Pita said, adding that he and Chang, both graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had bonded over their shared alma mater.

After nearly a decade of army-backed rule, Pita's MFP won the most seats in Thailand's May 14 general election.

Despite the MFP and its coalition partners forming a majority in Thailand's lower house, the 250 members of the military-appointed Senate will also get a vote on the country's next prime minister, a state of affairs that could see Pita lose out on the job. 

Asked about his future policy in terms of diplomacy, Pita told CNA that it has to be a "rule-based diplomacy" with the objective being stability in Asia and the world as a whole.

"There might still be a Sino-America rivalry, but if this is strategically managed, such competition will benefit countries, including Thailand and others in ASEAN," he said.

"It is a time for the middle power like Thailand to really step up to the global arena and to really shape the new world order," he added.

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