Ministers must resign

Ministers must resign

There is no significant disagreement that the next general election, whether in February or later, must be free and fair. But the military regime seems blind to the fact that it must be seen to be impartial, by all Thais and foreign friends alike. This is why Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha must release government ministers directly and actively aligned with political parties. This must start with the four cabinet ministers who took up leading roles within the Palang Pracharath Party (PPP) last week.

The government veered off course on this vital question of credibility less than a month ago. Ironically, it was Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam who set the ball rolling in the wrong direction. He is a non-military man who has been at the right hand of Gen Prayut since the coup of May 22, 2014. He is a lawyer and often introduced as the best legal mind in the current cabinet by a wide margin. On this issue, however, Mr Wissanu's legal advice merely provided a loophole, instead of good governance.

Last month, Gen Prayut hired savvy politician Buddhipongse Punnakanta as an adviser at the PM's Office. A former Democrat and enthusiastic Bangkok Shutdown organiser during that protest's 2013-14 lifespan, Mr Buddhipongse knows his politics. The media asked Mr Wissanu what would happen if the newly appointed adviser decided to throw his hat in the political ring before the next election. The deputy PM answered that he would keep his position and pay packet, and be allowed full freedom to pursue political goals, including as a member of an election-contesting party.

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