HM gives cabinet moral support
Prayut chairs first meet with ministers
His Majesty the King yesterday extended moral support to the new cabinet ministers and advised them to be committed to serving the country and the people.
The King gave an address to the cabinet ministers led by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha after they took the oath of office during the swearing-in ceremony at Ambara Villa in Dusit Palace at 6pm yesterday.
His Majesty was accompanied by Her Majesty the Queen.
"I would like to offer my best wishes and moral support to you all. May you be blessed with confidence and determination to carry out your duties and fulfil the oath you made for the happiness and security of the country and the people," the monarch said.
"Each job has its obstacles and difficulties. Therefore, problem-solving is normal so the governing of the country can proceed smoothly. It is necessary to tackle the core of the problems and be strong and patient. I wish the cabinet ministers moral support and strength to perform your duties properly with righteousness," His Majesty the King said.
The swearing-in of the ministers in the presence of His Majesty the King is required by the constitution. Afterwards, the government must present a policy statement to parliament within 15 days before cabinet ministers assume their official duties.
The key political consequence of the ceremony is that the National Council for Peace and Order ceased to exist once the cabinet was sworn in, officially ending its five-year rule.
Speaking after the ceremony, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he was confident the new cabinet ministers would have no trouble working together as they were all familiar with each other.
"The country cannot stop. No matter what problems, we'll find ways to solve them. We have to stop unnecessary problems and foster unity among the people," Gen Prayut said.
Gen Prayut later chaired a first cabinet meeting at Government House and gave the ministers a welcome speech.
"Like myself, this meeting room has been awaiting you for years," the prime minister said, stressing that the government belongs to all Thais and must see to it that all groups of people are looked after equally.
Earlier in the afternoon, the atmosphere at Government House was lively as coalition parties arrived to prepare for the ceremony.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul led cabinet ministers of the Bhumjaithai Party, while the Democrats were led by Deputy Prime Minister, Commerce Minister and party leader Jurin Laksanawisit.
Speaking before the ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said that the cabinet secretary-general would brief the ministers on their duties pending the announcement of the government policy statement in parliament.
For example, the ministers can engage in functions related to traditions, but they still cannot approve budgets or appoint and transfer any officials until after the policy statement is announced.
He also said the cabinet meeting would consider the new government's policy manifesto. If approved, the manifesto will be published and distributed to MPs for study in advance.
Mr Wissanu added that the meeting was expected to approve the appointment of Distat Hotrakitya, former Council of State secretary-general, as new PM's secretary-general.
Asked by reporters whether he was excited, Transport Minister Saksiam Chidchob said he felt "normal", whereas Deputy Interior Minister Songsak Thongsri said he was glad to return to Government House having served as deputy transport minister in the 2007 Samak Sundaravej government. Both are Bhumjaithai Party members.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said that he will focus mainly on the work at the Public Health Ministry, and will carry out assignments given him by the prime minister.
Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakan from the Bhumjaithai said that he is a new face in the cabinet, but is ready to work straight away. He said that his ministry plays an important economic role and he will have plenty of work to get on with.
Democrat leader Mr Jurin also led six cabinet ministers from his party to Government House.