The official reason for the resignation of the former Kasikorn Bank President,who was only appointed on August 6th and sworn in on August 12th, was cited as ill-health. Almost nobody believes this is the full story and point to a dispute between the minister and his Palang Pracharat Party deputy at the ministry.
The Minister of Finance has resigned effective on Wednesday 2nd September after only being appointed to the position for 27 days. The shock move may well be part of the ‘aftershock’ promised to the Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha from disgruntled MPs within the Palang Pracharat Party which is growing more assertive and could lead to further pressure as a new appointment must now be found while also damaging confidence in efforts to pull the economy out of the current deep recession.
The Thai government was left reeling on Tuesday when news emerged of the resignation of the newly installed Minister of Finance who was only sworn in to the position on Wednesday, August 12th following his appointment on August 6th by the Prime Minister.
The resignation of the minister was published in the Royal Gazette on Tuesday and is effective from the 2nd of September. It means that the minister has only been in the position for 27 days.
It is understood his resignation was submitted on Monday and was accepted by the Prime Minister.
Deputy PM expressed surprise at the news
On Tuesday, the Deputy Prime Minister Mr Wissanu Krea-ngam told reporters that he was not even aware of the resignation but had heard in recent days that the minister was ill.
Conflict between the minister and junior minister, party-list Palang Pracharat MP, Santi Phromphat
Political sources are pointing to a conflict with the deputy minister at the Ministry of Finance, Santi Phromphat, who while now having served under two different ministers, has long been reported to have coveted the senior role for himself.
Mr Santi is a former Pheu Thai MP and minister in the government of Yingluck Shinawatra holding a number of portfolios including Social Development and Human Security as well as Transport.
Spat over the appointment of a new Excise Department boss erupted at last week’s cabinet meeting in Rayong according to sources
The Palang Pracharat MP was to the fore in efforts to unseat the former Minister of Finance, Uttama Savanayana, from his role as Palang Pracharat Party leader and finance minister earlier this summer.
This came to a head when Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan assumed the leadership of the party and Mr Uttama stepped down along with four other key economic ministers in mid-July.
Political sources are suggesting that this resignation sprang from a tug of war between the new Minister of Finance, Predee Daochai, and his junior counterpart over the appointment of a new Director-General of the Excise Department with the ministry.
Reports suggest that the matter came to a head at last week’s cabinet meeting in Rayong with Mr Santi proposing the Director of the State Enterprise Policy Office, Mr Prapas Kong-Ied, for the role while Mr Predee proposed the Director of the Fiscal Policy Office, Lavaron Sangsnit.
Mr Predee headhunted by the PM for the role
Mr Lavaron was eventually appointed to the position at this Tuesday’s cabinet meeting at Government House but Mr Predee’s resignation still stands.
Predee Daochai was headhunted by the prime minister for the key role and his departure will be a blow both to the government and to Prime Minister Prayut’s authority especially as the unrest in the Palang Pracharat Party has not gone away despite protestations of unity.
The move will be a blow to business and industry leaders in the commercial sector who welcomed Mr Predee’s appointment based on his hands-on banking expertise and experience which was vast.
A source within Palang Pracharat at the beginning of August warned of an ‘aftershock’ following the completed cabinet reshuffle
On completion of the cabinet reshuffle in early August, many Palang Pracharat Party MPs were left dissatisfied still at the dearth of party MPs sitting at the cabinet table.
One source within the party predicted and warned of an ‘aftershock’ in the future following the finalisation of the cabinet reshuffle at the end of July and early August.
Palang Pracharat is also reported to be cooperating and working within parliament with the Pheu Thai Party and has, significantly, won a number of by-elections throughout the country with a focus on grassroots politics.
Another political source withinPalang Pracharat, a newly formed but still quite unstable ruling party with MPs both finding and making their role in politics since the election in March 2019, on Tuesday, expressed no surprise at the quick departure of the Minister of Finance, Mr Predee.
‘We’ve always thought he wouldn’t last long because he had no political experience,’ he was quoted as saying.