Nataphol reconciles with allies

Nataphol reconciles with allies

Tensions over wife's pitch for city poll

Nataphol: No worry about the outcome
Nataphol: No worry about the outcome

Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan said he has cleared the air with his colleagues in the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) after reports emerged of them threatening to vote against him in the upcoming no-confidence debate.

Mr Nataphol is one of the 10 cabinet ministers, including Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in the opposition's crosshairs in the four-day censure debate starting tomorrow.

The move came after a faction of PPRP MPs under Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon threatened to vote against Mr Nataphol because they were unhappy that his wife, Taya Teepsuwan, would stand for the Bangkok governor election under the PPRP against another PPRP candidate, party sources said.

The governor election is expected to take place late this year.

Mr Nataphol said he had no worry about the outcome of the no-confidence vote, adding he cleared some misunderstandings with party colleagues over lunch on Saturday.

He insisted the issue involving his wife running for Bangkok governor had nothing to do with the unity among coalition parties.

Asked whether the number of votes each cabinet minister targeted for censure debate will vary, Mr Nataphol said solidarity among government MPs remains intact.

The coalition government is made up of established and experienced parties and new parties such as the PPRP, and they work together in the country's best interests, he said.

PPRP secretary-general Anucha Nakasai said the party held a seminar on Saturday so the targeted 10 cabinet ministers could prepare for the debate.

The opposition's prospective issues were raised at the seminar and the ministers performed well in answering those questions, Mr Anucha said.

"Those at the seminar were satisfied and expressed willingness to vote in support of the ministers," Mr Anucha said. He was confident coalition MPs would vote in the same direction for the ministers.

Responding to speculation that some small coalition parties may not vote for some ministers, Deputy Prime Minister and Democrat Party leader Jurin Laksanawisit said representatives of all coalition parties at the seminar confirmed they were ready to support the government.

However, some small parties yesterday indicated they may not vote for cabinet ministers if there is evidence pointing to irregularities.

Chatchawal Kong-udom, a list MP and leader of the coalition Thai Local Power Party, said his group comprises four small coalition parties with 16 MPs and they always move and act together en bloc.

"If the opposition has solid evidence against the cabinet ministers, it would be hard for us to raise our hands in support," Mr Chatchawal said.

Pichet Sathirachawal, leader of the Prachatham Thai Party, said small parties are expected to hold a press conference to announce their stance on Friday -- one day before the vote of confidence is taken. He insisted his party will put people's benefits first.

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