The names of new ministers in a cabinet reshuffle, brought about by the resignation of six ministers in the last week, have been finalised. The formalisation of the new government lineup is underway. General Prayut, this week, appeared confident that all will go smoothly and that the process will be completed quickly.
The Thai Prime Minister on Tuesday and Wednesday appeared in ebullient form after a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan where the new cabinet lineup was discussed. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the PM ducked questions on key figures and posts but did suggest that the process of reshuffling the cabinet was well underway and would be a fait accompli very shortly.
The Thai Prime Minister has signalled that his cabinet reshuffle has been settled in his own mind and that what is currently underway is a review of all the candidates put forward for assigned portfolios to confirm their eligibility for office.
On Wednesday, at a meeting of the Centre of Covid 19 Situation Administration where a number of measures were agreed, the PM appeared upbeat and confirmed that the lineup had been shortlisted.
Among these is expected to be the current President of Kasikorn Bank, Predee Daochai, who is tipped as Thailand’s next Minister of Finance replacing Uttama Savanayon.
PM on Tuesday confirmed meeting with Deputy PM Wongsuwan on the cabinet reshuffle
On Tuesday, he elaborated further and referred to a meeting with his longtime colleague and ally, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, who is the leader of the ruling Palang Pracharat Party.
General Prayut used a form of words very similar to his comments last year when he was tasked to adjudicate over competing demands for cabinet positions.
Essentially, he reasserted his prerogative on having the final say but did acknowledge that he was aware of the issues involved.
No problems between Prayut and the ruling Palang Pracharat Party – suggests ‘mutual understanding’
He assessed that there were no problems between him and the ruling political party which supports him but of which he is not a member.
‘We don’t talk about ministerial quotas. I will see to it that the line-up is suitable. I thank all PPRP members. Everybody has the right to speak out, but it is I who make the decision, based on mutual understanding,’ he said.
The PM was speaking after Tuesday’s cabinet meeting
Speculation is at fever pitch
Behind the scenes, however, there is rampant speculation.
One is that there is a push to have Industry Minister, Suriya Juangroongruangkit, announced as Energy Minister, the position he coveted in the run-up to last year’s cabinet selection.
Mr Suriya has emerged as a renewed force within the Palang Pracharat Party since the election of Deputy PM Prawit as its leader at the end of June.
He is also a member of the Sam Mitr faction of the party that swung the move to oust the former Palang Pracharat leadership when it threw its weight behind the heave at the end of May and early June this year.
Future of Foreign Affairs Minister Don Pramudwinai in question with a top official linked with the post
The other area of speculation concerns the future of Foreign Affairs Minister, Don Pramudwinai, who holds a non-aligned position in the cabinet and has occupied the role since his appointment by the military junta.
A professional diplomat and former ambassador, Mr Don succeeded to the role in August 2015 having been appointed Deputy Foreign Minister in 2014.
There is talk of Mr Don being replaced by former Thai ambassador to Poland, Singapore and Japan, His Excellency, Bansarn Bunnag who is currently the Deputy-Secretary General at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Mr Don, this week, in reply to reporters questions would only say that he had not spoken to the prime minister about the matter.
Government spokeswomen Narumon Pinyosinwat also tipped for promotion in new line up
There is also speculation concerning the future of Narumon Pinyosinwat, the government spokesperson who has been tipped for promotion. Mrs Narumon, in response to questions, has said that she is unperturbed about her prospects even if her name does not appear in the new list of appointments.
The Prime Minister, on Tuesday, indicated that the matter may move swiftly. ‘I think the reshuffle will be finished soon. As I have said, there are steps to be taken under the law.’
Once named, the list of ministers will have to be submitted to His Majesty, the King, for approval followed by a ceremony where an official oath is taken.
The reshuffle has been brought about by the resignation, last Wednesday, of former Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak followed the day after by four key economic ministers, including the minister of finance and energy minister.
There followed, this week, the resignation of the Labour Minister, a member of one of the smaller coalition partners.