If in any way red-shirt firebrand Jatuporn Promphan is lucky in love, he is certainly not lucky in politics. For the third time in a row, he has been left out in the cold after his name did not appear in the latest cabinet lineup, unlike his red shirt partner, Nattawut Saikuar, whose political path seems to be littered with rose petals.
Jatuporn Prompan at a Pheu Thai Party rally in June. Beneath the nonchalant public face, it appears he is embittered about missing out on a cabinet post.
Mr Nattawut was appointed deputy agriculture minister in the last cabinet, and this time is switched to the Commerce Ministry as a deputy minister reportedly to help defend embattled Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, who is a target in a planned censure debate by the Democrats over the controversial rice pledging scheme.
Although Mr Jatuporn has put up a brave face before the media, insisting that he does not feel disappointed for not being included in the cabinet, his tone and his statements when he talks with his own red-shirt people tell a different story of an embittered man.
Here are excerpts from Mr Jatuporn's statement last Friday at the Imperial Lat Phrao department store, the headquarters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).
"Besides my red-shirt brothers, I believe our friends and enemies are anxiously waiting to see how I will choose to live my life.
"What has happened has nothing to do with special powers, but just the weakness of ordinary powers in order to protect the powers with the hope that the amataya [elite] mechanism will spare their lives.
"They tend to have forgotten that it is the people who give them life.
"If in the course of a battle, we face many lawsuits which are regarded as a scar, I wonder how the Pheu Thai Party will find someone to fight for it in the future because everyone must play safe and stay clean, but this will not save the party or the government.
"No matter how good a warrior is in the battlefield, injuries are inevitable. And after the battle, [the warriors] are told because they have scars they should let others who look fine [take cabinet posts].
"Those who do not fight are now on the front row, while those who fought and were scarred are put in the back row. This is the real truth of life."
Mr Jatuporn said if he was not happy with the cabinet shakeup he would only talk about it with the red-shirt people and not with the government.
From what he said to the red shirts last Friday, there is no question that he is deeply upset.
It was reported by some media that the red shirt firebrand was financially compensated for missing out in the latest cabinet lineup.
But he categorically denied it, saying: "I took an oath on the souls of the people that I will never sell my soul because being Jatuporn is not as important as being a hero."
There is little doubt that Mr Jatuporn is a good public speaker whose oratory skills can match, pound-for-pound, those of his Democrat rivals.
But he is regarded as a "lightning rod" by Pheu Thai for his outspokenness which will unnecessarily draw flak for the government, especially with the looming censure debate.
The red-shirt leadership, or the UDD, may feel disappointed with Mr Jatuporn's exclusion from the new cabinet lineup and may vent their frustration against the powers-that-be in the Pheu Thai Party.
But they are unlikely to protest because they know that the UDD and Pheu Thai are dependent on each other.
Which is why several key red-shirt members were given political posts or positions in state enterprises or certain quotas as a reward for their services rendered to the ruling party or the government.
Minus Mr Jatuporn, it should be known by now who is who in the latest cabinet lineup. The inclusion of some "new" faces into the cabinet, including former Thai Rak Thai executives or the House No.111 members, will give the government a refreshing look and probably lend it more credibility.
But appearances can be deceptive because at the end of the day there will be no change of government policies, particularly the populist policies such as the rice pledging scheme, the village fund, the women's empowerment fund _ among others.
Despite all the "new faces" in the cabinet, the real power who pulls the strings from behind the scenes remains "the man in Dubai".
If you expect something new _ a better political future or reconciliation between all the colour-coded political groups _ from the new cabinet, you will be disappointed.
Veera Prateepchaikul is a former Editor, Bangkok Post.
About the author
- Writer: Veera Prateepchaikul
Position: Former Editor