Thaksin’s secret hotel summit fuels cabinet speculation. PM Srettha Thavisin and Deputy PM Phumtham Wechayachai met the former Premier amidst growing expectations of a reshuffle. A new finance minister is strongly tipped amid growing economic malaise.

The rising influence of former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra was hinted at on Thursday when he lunched with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai at a Bangkok city centre hotel. The rendezvous, from which the press was excluded, came on the same day as Mr Thaksin’s financial advisor and trusted confidant resigned from his position as Stock Exchange Chairman and two large listed companies.

Thaksin pictured during Songkran celebrations when he travelled to Chiang Mai. (Right) The silver Lexus people carrier which ferried Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce Phumtham Wechayachai, to meet him on Thursday. The trio lunched at the Rosewood Hotel in Ploenchit owned by Mr Thaksin’s daughter. (Inset left) The press was excluded from the hotel and waited on the pavement. The PM and his deputy did not speak to reporters.

Speculation on the appointment of a new cabinet by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is rising.

Amid denials, speculation, and counter-speculation, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin ducked out for lunch on Thursday, joined by Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai, who also serves as Minister of Commerce.

Both top government officials had a meeting in the Ploenchit area of Bangkok at the Rosewood Hotel. The hotel is owned by Ms Pinthongtha Shinawatra Kunakornwong, daughter of former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra. 

Prime Minister and deputy PM arrived at hotel rendezvous in a silver Lexus people carrier to meet the former premier. The press was excluded from the hotel

Mr Thaksin was released on parole from prison on February 18th. He is serving out the remainder of his sentence at his Ban Chan Song La residence in Thonburi, Bangkok.

Management at the hotel had strict instructions to remove the media from the premises, forcing reporters and cameras outside to a nearby pavement.

The Prime Minister and his deputy arrived in a silver Lexus people transporter with registration SD 30.

However, it was later confirmed that the Prime Minister and Deputy PM met with Mr Thaksin inside, engaging in discussions for over an hour. The ministerial party departed without addressing waiting reporters.

76 year old tipped as Finance Minister resigned on Thursday from his Stock Exchange role and two listed companies. Signs the cabinet reshuffle is imminent

Significantly, Pichai Chunhavajira, the 76-year-old government advisor and Shinawatra family confidant, has just resigned from a number of companies.

Filings at the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) suggest that his resignation came into effect on April 25th at Bangchak Corp, an energy and petroleum conglomerate. Additionally, he has similarly resigned from BCPG Plc, a renewable energy firm.

The new cabinet appointment is expected before the end of April. It comes amid a disappointing run for the economy and indeed a falling baht.

New Finance Minister expected in April as economic malaise deepens with downgrades in GDP growth
Baht falls even after the Bank of Thailand’s intervention. It has lost 8.8% of its value in 2024 so far

Mr Pichai is widely tipped to become Deputy Prime Minister and the next Minister of Finance. He was previously the stock exchange chairman but resigned from this post on Thursday, confirming his new role. He was only appointed to that job in February.

In his new role, he will oversee government finances and economic policy. He will also have oversight over the controversial Digital Wallet stimulus scheme.

Current Minister of Public Health Dr Cholnan Srikaew looks like being removed from the cabinet after the reshuffle. Bhumjaithai Party ministers to stay put

Regarding the reshuffle, it is likely that Dr Cholnan Srikaew will be removed as Minister of Public Health, as well as Mr Chaiya Phromma as Deputy Minister of Agriculture.

Certainly, Mr Somsak Thepsutin, a Thaksin loyalist, is tipped to become the new Minister of Public Health.

Mr Paophum Rojanasakul, currently a secretary to the Minister of Finance, is expected to be named Deputy Minister of Finance.

At this time, according to Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, the Bhumjaithai Party’s eight ministers will remain in place. Minister of Transport Suriya Jungrungruangkit will become a Deputy Prime Minister.

Changes within Pheu Thai ministries, no clarity yet on changes with other coalition party cabinet seats

Furthermore, additional changes within the Pheu Thai power structure will be made.

Roiet MP Jiraporn Sinthuprai will become Deputy Minister of Commerce. Chakkraphong Saengmanee, currently Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, will move to the Prime Minister’s Office. Meanwhile, Srettha’s advisor, Mr Phichit Chuenban, will be elevated to Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office.

However, within the Palang Pracharat Party, matters are less certain.

One suggestion is that Chachoengsao MP Atthakorn Sirilatthayakorn will take the vacant post of Deputy Minister of Agriculture.

Meanwhile, within the United Thai Nation (Ruam Thai Sang Chart) Party, there are two positions available at the Agriculture and Finance Ministries, relating to ministers who have resigned.

One suggestion is that former Minister of Labour Suchart Chomklin may return to a senior political role.

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