Be careful, Prawit

Be careful, Prawit

Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon is expected to be among the prime ministerial candidates nominated by the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) in next year's general election, expected in May.

This shows how anything is possible in Thai politics. And if the election goes in the PPRP's favour, the 77-year-old general could be leading the nation. Hopefully, he, or whoever holds the reins, will know how to handle power and exercise it judiciously and gracefully.

There is no doubt that when it comes to politics, Gen Prawit is a brilliant strategist and negotiator. But it remains unclear whether he would make a great leader.

Nonetheless, his warning to Pol Gen Somyot Poompanmoung -- the former commissioner-general of the Royal Thai Police turned president of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) -- that he could lose his job if the national team fails to win gold at the Southeast Asian Games next May, suggests he's not one to tolerate failure.

The deputy prime minister, speaking in his capacity as chairman of the National Olympic Committee (NOC), gave Pol Gen Somyot such orders during a NOC meeting, reports say.

Such threats could, however, be a harbinger of more problems to come for our struggling national team.

Fifa prohibits government interference in a national football association and a national team. Indeed, the global governing body has disqualified several national teams from international games because of this.

Even if Pol Gen Somyot, who has failed to rack up results in several international tournaments, fails to bag gold next May, any change to the FAT's president must respect the FAT's procedures -- not just the whims of Gen Prawit.

Other pundits have suggested the Thai team should not put undue importance on the SEA Games but rather focus their energies on international competitions of a larger scope.

Of course, the team has already racked up many notable achievements at the regional tournament.

But, much like the middle-income trap, Thai football has hit a plateau -- unable to level up to a decent international standard.

If Thailand cannot think and aim beyond this regional tournament, it will lack the opportunity to develop new generations of players to take the national team to the next level.

Gen Prawit should promote professionalism in the country's football instead of threatening to sack the FAT president, which has put the national team at risk of being suspended.

Threatening the FAT president is just one example of Gen Prawit's questionable use of power. Last month, when he served as caretaker PM while Prayut Chan-o-cha was suspended by the Constitutional Court, he noticeably jumped the gun with his reaction to the weakening baht.

In a cabinet meeting, Gen Prawit instructed the finance minister to talk with the Bank of Thailand and come up with measures to deal with the baht's depreciation.

He is said to have wanted to peg the currency's value at 35 baht per US dollar -- a move perceived as government intervention in currency control.

Having amassed considerable support in Thai politics, Gen Prawit has a good shot of becoming the nation's next prime minister.

We can only pray he exercises more caution in both word and deed.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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