Former Redshirt leader Jatuporn Prompan on Wednesday described the formation of this new government as occurring under ‘strange’ circumstances and observed that it was a reversal of the 2014 coup d’état with the public again being ignored as power groups made the decisions behind the scenes. Nevertheless, the new government does promise Thailand stability for the next four years and ends the current political crisis which will benefit the economy.

Thailand is expected to have a new government and cabinet in place by mid-September following the election of former property tycoon Srettha Thavisin as Prime Minister on Tuesday. On Thursday, the new PM met with the outgoing office holder and leader of the caretaker government, General Prayut Chan Ocha at Government House as the handover of power begins. Mr Srettha has promised to restore Thailand’s position on the international stage and kick-start the country’s economy which has shown stunted growth over the previous decade. In a press conference Wednesday, Srettha promised that the new government will be a ‘turning point’ for the kingdom.

General Prayut Chan Ocha (right) meets newly appointed Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin (left) at Government House on Thursday as the incoming leader begins to finalise his cabinet which is expected to be sworn in by mid-September.

On Thursday, in Bangkok, at Government House, Mr Srettha Thavisin had a face-to-face meeting with the outgoing Prime Minister, Prayut Chan Ocha.

It followed a press conference on Wednesday at which he promised the Thai public that the next four years would be ones of change, driven by a government led by him which would strive to bring hope to people of all ages in the kingdom.

Meeting at Government House with Prayut followed swift endorsement of Mr Srettha Thavisin as Prime Minister by King Maha Vajiralongkorn on Wednesday

The meeting, on Thursday, followed the endorsement of the new Prime Minister who was elected by Parliament on Tuesday by a substantial majority, receiving 482 votes in a joint session of the House of Representatives and Senate, by the King the day before.

Srettha Royally endorsed after being elected as Prime Minister and now moves to form a cabinet

On Wednesday evening, there was a highly symbolic ceremony held at the Pheu Thai Party headquarters in Bangkok at which Mr Srettha paid his respects to a portrait of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Afterwards, he described his appointment as Prime Minister as a blessing and his distinction which was highly appreciated by himself and his family. 

‘I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude for His Majesty’s kindness, and I would like to pay homage to him above the head. I will strive to perform my duties with full strength, with honesty, and for the benefit and happiness of the people and the cultural development of the country and protection of the Constitution in all respects,’ he declared.

Srettha has conceded that Thailand faces many crises including a low growth and stunted economy

He paid tribute to the Thai people as well as public servants, the Royal Thai Police, the military and all sectors of the government across the kingdom. 

New cabinet expected to be in place by the middle of September when the next government is sworn in

The incoming PM promised that the creation of his government, with a new cabinet expected by the middle of September, would be a major turning point for Thailand.

‘We have crises and problems that urgently need a solution, whether it’s in terms of the economy, income expenditure, the well-being of the people, security, the health of our society, foreign affairs, environment, law and the justice process. We must act to address corruption, misconduct and many other things that are causing inequality and hardship,’ Mr Srettha said.

He promised to resolve the country’s critical problems and to pay particular attention to Thailand’s ailing economy which in the last decade has seen only stunted growth when compared to other Southeast Asian countries.

Economists have long singled out the Thai economy as the ‘sick man’ of Southeast Asia.

Mr Srettha promised to revive it while ensuring proper stewardship of the country’s financial affairs and budget, in particular promising to keep within the 2018 State Fiscal and Financial Disciplines Act.

Srettha promises an inclusive approach to governing involving the wider community in decision-making

The new prime minister promised to coordinate with representatives of all sectors of society and across the economy to increase public confidence and participation in his new government. 

He particularly promised to restore Thailand as a country of honour and prestige on the international stage with political analysts pointing to a need for an improvement in Thailand’s standing when it comes to human rights and freedom of the press.

‘I, Mr Srettha Thavisin, would like to serve as Prime Minister. As one who works tirelessly and does not know any other way, my government will be one dedicated to working hard, listening to the voices of the people, bringing unity back to the nation and bringing Thailand forward to create a better future for all our children from today onwards.’

Situation surrounding Srettha’s election on Tuesday was historic, remarkable but also questionable

The election of Mr Srettha followed a decisive move in July by the Pheu Thai Party to end its relationship with the election-winning Move Forward Party and renege on election promises made before the May 14th poll, specifically not to enter into coalition with parties associated with the former military junta.

The key to Mr Srettha’s election last Tuesday was the support of the Palang Pracharat Party led by General Prawit Wongsuwan and the United Thai Nation (Ruam Thai Sang Chart) Party associated with the outgoing Prime Minister and coup d’état leader in 2014, General Prayut Chan ocha. 

This has already resulted in the resignation of former Red Shirt leader and cabinet minister Nattawut Saikuar from the party and it is rumoured that further resignations, at the highest level, including leader Dr Cholnan Srikaew, will follow.

Former Redshirt leader Jatuporn believes a price will have to be paid for the political manoeuvres leading to Srettha’s appointment as Prime Minister

In the aftermath of Mr Srettha’s election on Tuesday, the former leader of the Redshirt movement or the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), Mr Jatuporn Prompan, described the creation of this new government as one which has occurred under strange conditions, including the return on the same day that Mr Srettha was elected, of Mr Thaksin Shinawatra from exile after fifteen years. 

Thaksin helicoptered to Police Hospital at 3am after feeling ill says Department of Corrections

Mr Jatuporn said that this was a government that had been created by power groups in Thailand.

He predicted that although the new government promises stability going forward, there will be a price to pay for what has happened.

Jatuporn was appearing on the TV channel of the popular Thai newspaper Thai Rath. 

He described the events of Tuesday as momentous for Thailand and pointed out that the election of Mr Srettha appeared to return power to the Pheu Thai Party at the hands of those who launched the 2014 coup, a political manoeuvre that led to this new government.

Political moves appeared to dismiss public opinion as expressed in the May 14th General Election but such outcomes are common in European democracies

He said that the last month or so had seen the dismissal of the public by those at the helm.

The ordinary citizen was left to watch political developments carried out by the political parties, the House of Representatives and the unelected Senate, which contradicted the will of the people as expressed in the May 14th General Election.

For balance, it should be noted that this sort of outcome is not uncommon in Western and particularly European democracies in the wake of General Elections where no political party wins a landslide.

Mr Jatuporn’s comments were confirmed last weekend by an opinion poll conducted by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA), which showed that the majority of the Thai public already opposed this new Pheu Thai government.

Nonetheless, most analysts believe that the accommodation that has been reached will be welcomed in the short term because it promises political stability with confidence in the capability of Pheu Thai to be able to handle the country’s economic challenges.

Supporters of Prawit praise the 78-year-old’s efforts to bring about a government of reconciliation

Concluding his TV address on Wednesday, Mr Jatuporn suggested that General Prawit, the kingdom’s wily security minister, appeared to be very silent in recent days.

He had been tipped to take on the role of Prime Minister in an expected rolling political move if Mr Srettha’s nomination had been defeated by parliament.

Voting for next PM to go ahead with growing turmoil likely to end with General Prawit as PM
Chuwit says General Prawit Wongsuwan will be Thailand’s Prime Minister at the end of August

However, this analysis may be way off.

Sources close to Deputy Prime Minister Prawit suggest that the idea of creating a government of national reconciliation was the former army chief and political veteran’s objective all along.

The same sources point to General Prawit’s key role before the May 14th General Election in ensuring that the election was conducted using a two-ballot system which significantly favoured the Pheu Thai Party. 

General Prawit manoeuvres himself politically into a kingmaker position after the next General Election

However, those who planned the reconciliation process underestimated the desire among the public for reform and the surprising success of the more progressive Move Forward Party, which now constitutes Thailand’s opposition and awaits its chance at the next election.

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Further reading:

Srettha Royally endorsed after being elected as Prime Minister and now moves to form a cabinet

Thaksin helicoptered to Police Hospital at 3am after feeling ill says Department of Corrections

Police concerned for Thaksin’s safety on Tuesday after he lands at Don Mueang and is arrested

Move Forward Party’s good election result leaves uncertainty as to who will form the government