Highlights of the week
- Published: 26/10/2012 at 10:31 AM
- Online news:
Cabinet is undergoing a major facelift just ahead of the looming censure debate, although Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra denied it was a move to pre-empt the opposition's onslaught on certain vulnerable ministers.
The shakeup will see 14 new - or not so new - faces in the lineup, with several former Thai Rak Thai MPs from the so-called House No 111 being brought into the cabinet, which means that 14 incumbent ministers are to be chopped. The list has gone to the King for royal endorsement and hasn't been officially announced yet.
Altogether 23 cabinet seats are to be affected which means that some of the current ministers who retain their seats will have to swop positions. For instance, Deputy Agriculture Minister Nattawut Saikuar, a red-shirt leader, will be moved to the Commerce Ministry as the deputy minister and his first task will be to defend Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, who is targeted for censure over the rice pledging scheme.
It was speculated that Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung will lose the deputy premier’s portfolio and be appointed justice minister, replacing Pol Gen Pracha Promnok who is likely to be removed.
It was also speculated that Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa could be dropped from the cabinet list. If that is the case, his removal could impact on the implementation of government policy in the restive deep South as he is also in charge of overseeing the situation in the region.
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The shakeup is disappointing to many red-shirts, who have long wanted one of their prominent leaders, Jatuporn Prompan, to be awarded a cabinet post for his pivotal role in the violent anti-government protests two years ago which culminated in the crackdown on the protesters by the military.
A big question mark still hangs over the fate of the 3G spectrum auction held on Oct 16 by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) and whether Thai consumers will finally have access to this high-speed wireless phone service by next year or not. The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has decided to look into the auction, after receiving five petitions alleging irregularities, to find out whether it was rigged, as widely criticised.
Top executives of Thailand’s three major mobile phone operators, from left, Dtac CEO Jon Eddy Abdullah; Advanced Info Service vice chairman Somprasong Boonyachai; and True CEO Suphachai Chearavanont, pose for a photo prior to the 3G spectrum auction at the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission in Bangkok on Oct 17, 2012. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
NACC spokesman Klanarong Chantik said commission would first take up for consideration the petition by the Senate committee on good governance, which asked the graft busters to look into whether the auction was fair or whether it was rigged with price collusion.
The Thailand Development Research Institute, the country’s leading think-tank, has also been very critical of the auction, particularly the winning bid prices, which it said were too low at only 2.7% above the reserve price. The Green Politics group and deputy finance permanent secretary Supa Piyajitti have also voiced opposition to the auction proceedures.
Meanwhile, the NBTC has also set up an internal panel to investigate the alleged price collusion.
The eighth anniversary of the Tak Bai tragedy on Thursday passed with only minor violence compared to the previous week, which was marred with bombings and shootings blamed on Muslim militants.
Two grenade explosions were reported in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat, but no one was hurt. The were believed to have been aimed at a checkpoint on the Tak Bai-Narathiwat road, but they missed.
Three members of the separatist Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK) surrendered to authorities in Narathiwat’s Muang district on Thursday. All were wanted by the authorities for involvement in violent incidents in the province.
On Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa and army commander-in-chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha had a meeting with Muslim intellectuals to exchange views on the unrest, its causes and possible solutions.
At one point during the informal discussion, Gen Prayuth said he would order a pullout of troops from the restive region and the lifting of the emergency decree immediately if peace could be restored. He complained that local people were not cooperating with the authorities in providing information about the militants.
Gen Yutthasak, meanwhile, urged the Muslim academics to set aside the past misdeeds committed by the security forces and look instead to the future.
On development, the cabinet met in Surat Thani on Tuesday and approved more than 40 billion baht for various development projects in four southern provinces -- Surat Thani, Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phatthalung,
About the author
- Writer: Veera Prateepchaikul
Position: Former Editor