Yingluck Shinawatra, also known as Pu, is a Thai politician and businesswoman who served as the 28th Prime Minister of Thailand after the 2011 general election. In the long running patriarchal society where women were always given a back seat, the name Yingluck Shinawatra sets an example of an indomitable woman. Although born in a wealthy, and reputed family with a history in politics, Yingluck has not failed to leave a mark of her own. The start to her career came through the corporate world where she went to great lengths to establish herself as a successful business woman. But being one of the flag bearers of the family with a political lineage, she could not stop herself from entering the world of politics. Often known by her pet name Pu, she went on to become the first female Prime Minister of Thailand with a majority vote. Her government received a warm welcome from the people of Thailand. Although she had to step down later due to certain political pressures, her rise to power and determination to work for people has found a bright place in the pages of history books.
Childhood & Early Life
Yingluck Shinawatra was born on June 21, 1967 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She is the youngest of the nine children born to Loet Shinawatra and Yindi Ramingwong.
Yingluck’s father was a successful businessman and a Member of the Parliament for the northern city of Chiang Mai from late 1960s till the end of 1970s and through her maternal side, she is a descendant of a former monarch of Chiang Mai.
She completed her lower secondary education from Regina Coeli College, a private girls' school, and then went to Yupparaj College for higher secondary. She went to Chiang Mai University from where she graduated with a BA degree from the Faculty of Political Science and Public Administration in 1988. Then she got her master’s degree in Management Information Systems from Kentucky State University in Frankfort in 1991.
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In 1993, she started her career in a telephone directory business named Shinawatra Directories Co. Ltd where she worked as a sales and marketing intern. With her sheer dedication and hard work, she reached a position of influence. Her responsibilities kept on increasing within the business and soon she became the director of procurement and the director of operations.
She then became the General Manager of Rainbow Media in 1994, which was a subsidiary of International Broadcasting Corporation. In 2002, she left IBC as the Deputy CEO. Later she took the position of an executive in her brother’s company ‘Advanced Info Service’ (AIS), the third largest telecommunication firm in the country.
However, when in a controversial business transaction ‘Shin Corporation’, the parent company of AIS was sold out to a Singapore-based conglomerate ‘Temasek Holdings’ at a huge profit margin in 2006, Yingluck resigned from AIS. She continued working as a Managing Director of SC Asset Co Ltd, the family's real estate company.
The political scenario in Thailand around this time was shaky, to say the least. The People’s Power Party, which had come to power after the dissolution of Thai Rak Thai Party in 2006, was in shambles and about to fall apart. Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin was in power in the erstwhile government. With the end of People's Power Party emerged the need to form a new political party. It was then that the former People's Power Party MPs came forward and formed the 'Pheu Thai Party' in the latter half of 2008.
After a brief turmoil about who should be the leader of the party, Yingluck was elected to be the face of the party. This was partly because she has always had the support of the veteran politician Chalerm Yubamrung. The Parliamentary Elections were declared soon afterwards and Yingluck decided to run for the Office of the Prime Minister.
Yingluck, being a fresh face in the political circuit, and also belonging to a family with political pedigree, won the polls with an absolute majority. Her win is marked as a remarkable event in the pages of Thailand’s history. Thailand got her first female Prime Minister ever on 5th August in 2011.
Although the exit polls had predicted the Pheu Thai Party to win 310 seats out of the 500-seat in the parliament, the official result saw a win of the party with 265 seats and 47 percent of the vote, accounting to a 75.03 percent election turnout rate. This was only the second time that any single party won with more than half the seats in parliament after 2005.
The 28th Prime Minister of Thailand received a warm welcome from United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon who addressed the different parties and asked them to respect the people’s decision. Aung San Su Kyi, the State Counselor of Myanmar also embraced Yingluck’s win and spoke about making the relationship between Myanmar and Thailand better.
As soon as Yingluck came to power, she had to deal with a massive flood disaster that hit a large part of the country. This led to a great economical shut down of various vital foreign-owned manufacturing operations in the country and hundreds of people lost their lives. However, the economic conditions improved when these companies came back in 2012.
But what became a true hurdle for her was the constant pressing from the opposition party, accusing her to be nothing more than a mere proxy for her exiled brother Thaksin. In 2013, Yingluck’s government made an attempt to grant amnesty to those who were involved in the political tensions between 2006 and 2010. It was believed that it would include her brother as well in this. This grant stumbled hard at the legislature and resulted in anti-government protests towards the end of the year. Although Yingluck was quick at dissolving this legislature and scheduled for an early elections in the February of 2014, the opposition party disrupted the polling process so bad that the court had to declare the election invalid.
However, as they say everything- good or bad - comes to an end. The era of Yingluck was not an exception. Yingluck was removed from her office on the charge of illegally removing a government official early in her administration days. Later on, she was accused of various corruption charges from a rice-subsidy program instituted by her government. This meant that she would not be able to run any public office for the next five years.
For all the charges that Yingluck has been associated with, the trail began in 15th January 2016. On August 2017, when the Supreme Court was scheduled to pronounce her judgement, Yingluck failed to appear before the court. An arrest warrant was issued against her and to confiscate her bail money. If reports are to be believed, it is said that Yingluck fled from the country ahead of the verdict.
Yingluck has always been a private person and kept her personal life under the wraps.
With her elder brother Thaksin’s growing influence in the political circuit, it became easier for Yingluck to rule the family business while her brother was busy running the country.
She got married in 1995 to Anusorn Amorchat, a Thai businessman. He is an executive of the Charoen Pokphand Group. Presently, he is in charge of M-Link Asia Corporation that sells mobile phones and its accessories. Together they have a son named Supasek.
As of September 2017, the estimated net worth of Yingluck Shinawatra is said to be around $17 million.