Purge begins at transport state enterprises

Purge begins at transport state enterprises

Saksayam said to be getting rid of 'Somkid Connection'

(From left) Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, State Railway of Thailand board chairman Kulit Sombatsiri and Thai Airways International board chairman Ekniti Nitithanprapas. (Bangkok Post file photos)
(From left) Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, State Railway of Thailand board chairman Kulit Sombatsiri and Thai Airways International board chairman Ekniti Nitithanprapas. (Bangkok Post file photos)

The chairmen of the boards at Thai Airways International and the State Railway of Thailand have reportedly submitted their resignations after the political wind has changed at the Transport Ministry.

After the government was formed, it became clear the Bhumjaithai Party has taken full control of the ministry, with party secretary-general Saksayam Chidchob as the minister.   

Kulit Sombatsiri, chairman of the board of the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), said he and other directors were ready to resign like other directors at the state enterprises under the Transport Ministry, including THAI.

At the flagship carrier, board chairman Ekniti Nitithanprapas, has also reportedly submitted his resignation.

“All SRT directors have prepared resignation letters. We only wait for legal clarity since the SRT board is different from others. We were appointed by the National Council for Peace and Order and that order has not been repealed,” said Mr Kulit.

Acting SRT director Worawut Mala said it should be known next week whether and how the board directors would resign.

“The new SRT governor should also be picked this year and I’ll return to serving as a deputy governor on asset management to push for the setup of an asset company under the SRT,” he added.

THAI president Sumeth Damrongchaitham said he did not know about the resignation of the chairman of the board so it was possible his resignation had not been confirmed.

Mr Saksayam has made clear the current board directors at the ministry’s 15 state enterprises should “show their spirits” since they were appointed by politicians of the past.

“Now that we have a new government, we need to make sure the new minister and the directors are on the same page. After all, the Transport Ministry has several urgent plans to stimulate the economy,” he has said.

But at the Expressway Authority of Thailand, another state enterprise under the ministry, a source said the directors had not prepared to quit.

“Let’s wait and see whether chairman Sung Boonkul would need to resign. It’s possible the ministry still wants him to continue work on expressway compensation to save time,” the source said.

A ministry source added while it was normal a new minister would want to replace entire boards, Mr Saksayam appeared to be targeting those under Somkid Jatusripitak, who has been replaced as deputy prime minister for the economy by Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul.

The four technocrats believed to be in the “Somkid Connection” network who now sit on the state enterprises’ boards at the ministry are Nattachart Charuchinda, chairman of the board at the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority, Mr Kulit of the SRT, Mr Ekniti of THAI and Prasong Poontanet of Airports of Thailand Plc. The latter three are said to preparing to resign.

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