Chakthip denies cabinet post rumour

Chakthip denies cabinet post rumour

Prayut won't be drawn on quota for military

The prime minister was peeved at reporters' questions about the number of civilians likely to be in the new cabinet, and asked why some people dislike soldiers. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
The prime minister was peeved at reporters' questions about the number of civilians likely to be in the new cabinet, and asked why some people dislike soldiers. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Chakthip Chaijinda has denied a report he will quit as national police chief to become a minister in the next cabinet reshuffle.

Amid key army figures reportedly resigning from their posts ahead of a cabinet rejig, some have speculated that Pol Gen Chakthip may be among the replacements for some outgoing ministers. However, he quickly said this was just an unfounded rumour.

"I've not tendered my resignation letter," Pol Gen Chakthip told reporters as he joined a meeting between the cabinet and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on Tuesday.

"I've not been offered a ministerial post."

The national police chief said he was stunned when he heard the report, adding that it came as he was busy getting his subordinates to join state agencies to help people in flooded areas.

His deputy Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul also insisted he has not been offered the job of replacing the national police chief. However, he refused to comment on how the report regarding Pol Gen Chakthip went public.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also played down the rumour concerning Pol Gen Chakthip.

He said the police chief "did tender his resignation", but this concerned his decision to resign as a board member of Thai Airways International Plc, the state-owned national flag carrier.

Gen Prayut became frustrated when he was asked whether new cabinet members will come from the military, which currently dominates the cabinet.

"I don't understand why some people dislike soldiers," he said, asking reporters who, if not the military, had salvaged Thailand from its political stalemate resulting from a conflict between anti-government protesters and the previous Yingluck Shinawatra administration.

The confrontation, which looked likely to escalate, was brought to an end by the coup, led by then army chief Gen Prayut, on May 22, 2014.

The prime minister insisted he has no quota of military, police or civilians in his cabinet rejig plans.

Gen Prayut said the reshuffle will match the government's ongoing work on its 20-year national strategy and national reform, which are expected to be turned into action after the next election.

The main reason he has to change his cabinet lineup "does not result from flaws in their work, but I am adjusting their positions to match the current situation", Gen Prayut stressed.

The prime minister said he is always careful about choosing cabinet members.

People's opinions form part of his decision-making process, but it does not mean he has to follow all comments on social media, he added.

It is possible the new look of the cabinet may not satisfy all sides, but what he has applied is reason, not emotion, in putting the right people in the right jobs, he said.

Above all, he added, even "the [upcoming] cabinet reshuffle is impermanent" as things keep changing.

Speculation over who will be in the new cabinet has grown after Gen Sirichai Distakul resigned as labour minister last week.

However, Gen Prayut insisted Tuesday that Gen Sirichai wants to pursue his business interests and there are no problems at the Labour Ministry.

Agriculture Minister Gen Chatchai Sarikulya said, also denying a report he is planning to "take a break", said it is difficult to know what Gen Prayut thinks about the reshuffle as he has not asked or talked with anyone about potential changes.

The prime minister told the cabinet meeting he needed to carry out a reshuffle and thanked all cabinet members for working together for three years.

"I need to make a change for the future. Please don't be angry with me," Col Aphisit Chainuwat, assistant government spokesman, quoted Gen Prayut as saying.

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