Pheu Thai Party leader Paetongtarn Shinawatra says the dinner party for members of the coalition that she attended on Wednesday had nothing to do with her political career or ambitions.
Speculation has been rife that the daughter of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is being groomed for the prime minister’s post and might even replace Srettha Thavisin at some point during the term of the current government.
On Friday Ms Paetongtarn dismissed the idea, saying she merely joined the get-together as the leader of the ruling party.
She said the dinner was intended to bring the coalition parties closer and to give her — as someone who does not work in parliament because she is not an MP — a chance to meet key coalition figures and learn from them.
She said she did not provide any advice to the government and the talk over the dinner was casual and did not touch on any political issues.
The dinner was the first such occasion since the formation of the 11-party coalition government two months ago. Participants decided that having such gatherings on a regular basis would be a good idea.
When asked about the government’s performance after two months in office, she said there was clear progress in several policies, including reducing people’s cost of living.
Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai also faced a barrage of questions from reporters after it emerged that he had remarked during the dinner that Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin was a straight shooter.
He said the comment was not a criticism or a warning to the premier, and that he simply wanted the coalition partners to know what Mr Srettha was like. If the coalition partners understood the premier’s character, his straightforwardness was thus a positive quality, not a weakness.
Mr Srettha said earlier that he received useful advice at the dinner, including that from Mr Phumtham, who commented on his style of working and said the premier was open and direct.