Reports suggest that Captain Thamanat Prompow has had talks with the Pheu Thai Party and even with former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. It is suggested he is thinking beyond the current government which looks weakened from last weekend’s resounding election victory in Bangkok for the Pheu Thai Party, Move Forward Party and former Minister of Transport in the Yingluck Shinawatra government until 2014, Chadchart Sittipunt.
The prospects of the government being defeated in a censure motion in June and July strengthened this week as former cabinet minister Thamanat Prompow looks set to take over the leadership of the Setthakij Thai Party (Thai Economic Party) after a coup saw the party’s leadership resign en masse. The move by Captain Thamanat, who is expected to take over as leader of the party on June 7th next and who is seen as an enemy of General Prayut, has set the stage for what already looks like a tumultuous few months ahead which will decide the political future of the country.
The political terrain ahead took on a more ominous and threatening vista for Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha this week when his political foe, former Deputy Minister of Agriculture and MP for Phayao province, Captain Thamanat Prompow staged a successful coup within his own party when fifteen out of twenty-two executive board members of the Setthakij Thai Party (Thai Economic Party) resigned en mass on Wednesday immediately removing the party leader General Wit Devahastin na Ayudhya and leading to an extraordinary general meeting or assembly being called for June 7th to elect new leadership.
It is widely expected that Captain Thamanat will assume the position, one which he was reportedly talked out of in mid-March when a General Assembly of the party elected General Wit to the role and Captain Thamanat as Secretary-general in a move believed to have been advised by General Prawit Wongsuwan, a key mentor to both men.
Setthakij Thai Party (Thai Economic Party) likely to be used as a vehicle to topple the Prime Minister in a censure motion to be voted on in June or July
The view now held is that Captain Thamanat Prompow will assume the leadership of the Setthakij Thai Party (Thai Economic Party) and will use it as a vehicle to topple the prime minister despite the party still, in theory, being part of the coalition government.
It is understood that the controversial ex-minister and parliamentary fixer with links to other parties including the ruling Palang Pracharat Party and opposition Pheu Thai Party, is in a position to muster 40 MPs to vote against the government in a no-confidence motion which is expected to be decided sometime in June or July this year against the backdrop of an extremely busy few months for parliament which has a raft of bills to consider including next year’s budget and critical new voting law bills which are expected to have their second and third readings as a matter of urgency in the coming month or two.
Raft of important bills or laws to be voted on in the House of Representatives including the new voting laws, critical to holding the next General Election
Among the bills expected before parliament or the House of Representatives, is a bill to strengthen the regulation of cannabis or marijuana to prevent its widespread use as a recreational drug or trafficking in some derivatives of it which will remain effectively a schedule five narcotic after its new delisted status takes effect in early June, a bill to regulate NGOs and a police reform bill.
The key question now is the fate of the government beyond July and the passage of the new electoral laws which will be vital to allow for any prospect of a smooth running of a General Election, an event which now looks like it may come sooner rather than later but in any event, must take place in the next ten months.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan’s response to reporters on Friday was somewhat incoherent as he played down the threat to topple the government
On Friday, a sometimes incoherent Deputy Prime Minister, General Prawit Wongsuwan dealt with reporters’ questions on the growing threat to the government from Captain Thamanat and the Setthakij Thai Party with credible reports that the former cabinet member can muster the numbers required to topple the government of General Prayut.
Attempting, as usual, to play the matter down by telling reporters that there would be no problem, the deputy prime minister assured them that he was on talking terms with all cabinet members despite Captain Thamanat having been expelled from the government in September for coordinating a parliamentary coup against the prime minister from within the Palang Pracharat Party.
This subsequently led to Captain Thamanat’s expulsion also from the Palang Pracharat Party taking 18 MPs with him to a newly revitalised Setthakij Thai Party (Thai Economic Party).
Combination of Setthakij Thai Party MPs, a group of 16 from smaller parties and other ‘cobras’ said to be among 40 MPs under Captain Thamanat’s control
The 40 MPs who are believed to be behind the former minister include 16 Setthakij Thai Party MPs and a group of 16 MPs from smaller ‘micro-parties’ who have pledged their support for Captain Thamanat in the forthcoming struggle.
Party-list MP Peerawit Ruengluedollapak of the small Thai Rak Tham Party made it clear that a group of at least 16 MPs who met on Wednesday were behind Captain Thamanat and that questions remained over their support for the government and in particular, key cabinet ministers.
‘We are confident we can gather enough votes to support the opposition camp to bring the government down,’ Mr Peerawit explained to reporters.
It is also believed that the renegade former minister has possible cobras or defecting MPs within the ruling party
‘I can confirm there will be more support than just the sixteen Setthakij Thai MPs. So, some cabinet ministers must be careful,’ Captain Thamanat confirmed on Thursday as the political rumour mills churned furiously in Bangkok.
Not clear yet what Thamanat’s goal is
It is not clear what Captain Thamanat’s ultimate goal is as he flexes his increasingly stronger hand against the backdrop of a weakening grip on power by Prime Minister Prayut who is also due to face a Constitutional Court motion in July, filed by Pheu Thai, questioning his status in office as his eight-year term may be due to expire in August according to one interpretation of the 2017 Constitution.
One report suggests that Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan may be forced to negotiate with Captain Thamanat to avert a crisis for the government while it is also reported that Thamanat, a former Pheu Thai Party member, is in discussions with his former party while also being in contact with its key figurehead, former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra in Dubai.
Bangkok election on Sunday last changed the political zeitgeist and dynamic against the government this week, political fireworks ahead and a new future
The historic vote achieved in Bangkok last Sunday by a former Pheu Thai Party Minister of Transport in the government of Yingluck Shinawatra, Chadchart Sittipunt, has altered the political zeitgeist in Thailand after Mr Chatchart polled an unprecedented number of votes in the election surpassing all records since they first began in 1989 and coming in with a tally of nearly 1.4 million or 51.3% of those who cast a ballot.
Sunday’s Bangkok poll may mean the end for PM after the Palang Pracharat Party’s dismal showing in seats
Despite caution being expressed by academics, there is now an increasing belief that the vote is a reflection of how things may progress in a General Election poll.
Former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra especially touted this view while pointing to what he sees clearly as the strategic voting pattern of voters who would normally have been expected to support the Move Forward Party, the second-largest opposition party, in loaning their vote to the former Pheu Thai Party minister to have him decisively elected as the next governor of Bangkok last Sunday.
From the beginning of June until August we can expect to see fireworks as the country’s political road ahead is decided and people strive to look beyond the current government.