Reshuffle needs work
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Reshuffle needs work

After seven months of mediocre performance, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is going to reshuffle his cabinet. Yet those who wish to see a total overhaul and the exit of underperforming ministers might be let down. On the face of it, the Srettha 2.0 cabinet will merely reflect internal promotions within the Pheu Thai Party and its power consolidation.

Cabinet reshuffling ideally aims to enhance administrative performance by appointing suitable individuals to appropriate positions. However, in Thai politics, it has devolved into a form of horse trading. There lacks transparent criteria for voters to understand why ministers are replaced in certain positions.

Now media attention is focusing on Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang, who will reportedly be replaced by Prime Minister Srettha. As the PM is known to be a busy man, Gen Nattaphol Nakpanich -- a close aid to former PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha -- is tipped to be his deputy minister of defence.

Why Mr Sutin, who has made waves in the armed forces, will be dismissed remains a significant question. Besides resolving the contentious submarine deal, his down-to-earth communication skills and charming approach have initiated subtle military reforms.

The Srettha cabinet reshuffle will not only affect cabinet members. Public Health Minister Dr Cholnan Srikaew is tipped to replace House Speaker Wan Muhamad Noor Matha -- a 79-year-old senior and highly respected veteran politician. It remains to be seen how Pheu Thai will take over the House Speaker's role. Mr Wan Noor won't give it up easily.

On Thursday, he said: "The prime minister is authorised to make a cabinet reshuffle, but the House's Speaker position is specified by the charter." The House Speaker is one of the three pillars in the democratic system, so a democratically elected government must treat it with respect -- not just a seat for horse trading.

While Mr Srettha and Pheu Thai move around men in cabinet seats as if it were some private company, ministers from other coalition parties have been left untouched -- even though a few of them have failed to live up to expectations.

A glaring example is Education Minister Permpoon Chidchob, an MP from the Bhumjaithai Party. The Education Ministry has a plethora of national problems -- ie teachers debt, education quality, the need for laws to be revised and the problem of violence and corruption in schools. Pol Gen Permpoon has simply failed to rise to the occasion.

Another underachiever is Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan, the environment minister from the Palang Pracharath Party and brother of Gen Prawit Wongsuwon. Under his tenure, the Environment Ministry has taken a back seat and cannot be seen as useful in solving national environmental problems, such as PM2.5, or even the latest cadmium issue.

Another letdown is Tawee Sodsong, who as justice minister has failed to erase public doubts on perceived double standards in the treatment of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra. The image of Thai justice has suffered like never before. What the country requires is a minister capable of building trust, rather than one who responds to inquiries about a floating dumbbell that Thaksin uses in his swimming pool.

Mr Srettha's strong points are his business achievements as a CEO. It's not too much for the public to ask for him to use his leadership skills and expertise to assign the right man to the right job, particularly when it comes to his cabinet.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

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