Face of next PM will 'be similar to Prayut'
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak has hinted the next prime minister will be a person whose face "looks similar" to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's.
The deputy prime minister who oversees economic affairs made the cryptic remark to top business operators and investors at the Forbes Global CEO Conference on Wednesday at Bangkok's Hotel Plaza Athenee.
"Don't worry [about inconsistency], I have a hunch that the face of the next prime minister will look similar to the current one," Mr Somkid said in part of his address.
He told the conference that Thailand is heading to a general election so there will "definitely be political attacks" against the government. One attack will concern questions about the economic outlook, and there will be claims that while the government says the economy is on a promising path, inequality has become prevalent.
Mr Somkid said inequality has resulted from the failures of policy-makers over past decades. Their failures resulted in not getting a better standard of living for grassroots people, he said.
Mr Somkid, at one time the ideologue of Thaksin Shinawatra's Thai Love Thai Party, has recently taken a strong political hand as leader of the powerful Sam Mitr (three allies) king-making team also known as The Three Amigos.
With political veterans Somsak Thepsutin and Suriya Jungrungreangkij (uncle and political opponent of Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit), Mr Somkid has played a crucial political role in organising the campaign to ensure that Gen Prayut remains as prime minister even after elections.
He has encouraged formation of the pro-regime Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), and paved the way for key government members including party leader Industry Minister Savanayana to keep their jobs at Government House while also heading political events.
Mr Somkid has worked almost entirely behind the scenes to lead the campaign to encourage other former Thaksin supporters to defect from the Pheu Thai Party to PPRP.
Currently, Thailand has as many as 4 million people who earn less than 30,000 baht per year. The group is among 11 million people who earn less than 100,000 baht a year.
In addition, there are as many as 20 million people in the agricultural sector who cannot catch up with technology to add value to their products.
"How will inequality be tackled if these problems are not solved?" he said.
"It's not the mistake of this government but governments in the past which were not seriously dedicated to tackling the problem," he said.