Cabinet not ideal, PM says
Prayut issues threat to shuffle the pack
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has admitted that the new cabinet lineup may be less than perfect, as there is little he can do about the proposed candidates who have been criticised for their public image.
However, the prime minister insisted that the new ministers will be reshuffle if they later prove to be unqualified for the roles.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Gen Prayut said the lineup of 35 cabinet ministers has been finalised, and the list will be submitted for royal endorsement this month.
However, Gen Prayut said he has instructed his legal team to check the qualifications of candidates proposed by coalition parties for cabinet posts, after questions about some of their public images and qualifications emerged.
"The cabinet lineup must be completed first. We'll consider what we can do about it later," Gen Prayut said.
"We cannot reject anyone. Everyone says democracy comes from an election. Right now, there are elected MPs, so there's nothing we can do about them, except to use legal measures and check their qualifications," Gen Prayut said.
The prime minister also said that a reshuffle will remain a potent weapon for him to jettison cabinet ministers who are found to be unqualified for their jobs.
"But don't forget that the cabinet is always subject to reshuffles, if any of them are accused of committing any wrongdoing or complaints are lodged against them," Gen Prayut said.
There are several mechanisms in place to keep the government in check when the new cabinet takes office, Gen Prayut said.
"Therefore, everyone [cabinet ministers] must obey the law and regulations. We have to place our trust in laws. They will be scrutinised. The cabinet will be reshuffled. This is the way things are," Gen Prayut said.
Reports have emerged that questions are being raised over the qualifications of certain candidates proposed by some coalition parties. Some politicians are alleged to be "influential figures" and some are being investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
As a result, some politicians earlier tipped to be made cabinet ministers may let their family members take ministerial posts to act as their proxies, according to sources. For example, the Bhumjaithai Party, which is expected to get seven cabinet seats, previously proposed Uthai Thani MP Chada Thaiseth as deputy interior minister, but the source said that Gen Prayut disagreed out of concern for his reputation.
Mr Chada has reportedly proposed his younger sister Mananya to replace him as deputy agriculture minister in the next government and the Bhumjaithai Party has agreed. Meanwhile, the deputy leader of the Democrat Party, Nipon Boonyamanee, who was nominated to be deputy interior minister, has seen complaints lodged against him for alleged abuse of power in his position as head of Songkhla's provincial administrative organisation. Mr Nipon denies the allegations.
Several other ministerial candidates have been accused of holding shares in media companies. They include Sathit Pitudecha from the Democrat Party and MR Chatumongkol Sonakul, the Action Coalition for Thailand Party leader who has been tipped to be foreign affairs minister.
Mr Sathit said he had already completed the transfers of all shares in media companies in compliance with media shareholding rules. Regarding MR Chatumongkol, a party source has said that he has also transferred all of his media shares in line with the law.
In a related development, the group of Palang Pracharath Party MPs in the South and Northeast who have demanded their share of cabinet portfolios on Tuesday backed down on their request after the party agreed to give them more junior positions, such as vice-ministers or ministerial advisers.