Yingluck Shinawatra is the youngest of nine children of a family of Chinese descent. She was born on 21 June 1967 in Chiang Mai, a province in the northern region of Thailand. After graduating with a BA degree from the Faculty of Political Science and Public Administration at Chiang Mai University in 1988, she went to study in the United States and received her MPA degree (specialisation in Management Information Systems) from Kentucky State University in 1991.
Yingluck Shinawatra – The first and only female prime minister of Thailand (credit: Independent.co.uk)
When Pou (Yingluck’s nickname) returned home, she worked as an executive at the businesses of her elder brother Thaksin, Prime Minister of Thailand from 2001 until 2006 when he was ousted. She became the president of property developer SC Asset and managing director of Advanced Info Service (AIS).
In 2011, Pou was elected as Member of Parliament. Pheu Thai Party, her party, won in a landslide and nominated her as the next Prime Minister of Thailand.
Yingluck became the head of government from 5 August 2011 to 7 May 2014 (2 years and 245 days). During her tenure, she presided over the management of the 2011 flood disaster that affected many provinces in the central region. She introduced the so-called Rice-Pledging Scheme – an election promise to raise the income of rice farmers wherein the government will buy the rice produced by farmers at a fair price. Eventually, this policy would provide ammunition for her critics who claimed that the government was put at a disadvantage and that many farmers were unpaid. After her investigation by Thailand’s anti-graft agency, she was found guilty of dereliction of duty over the said policy and was sentenced to five years in prison. However, before the promulgation of the judgment, she was reported to have fled the country.
Yingluck has one son, Supasek, with her common law husband, Anusorn Amornchat, a business executive. One of her sisters, Yaowapa Wongsawat, is the wife of former prime minister, Somchai Wongsawat.