PPRP 'reclaiming' ministries
Allies enraged as party 'breaks vows'
A remaining hurdle to forming a coalition with the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) has triggered a furore among its allies, following reports the party wanted to reclaim some key cabinet seats it had earlier promised to give to coalition partners.
After Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha was selected as prime minister in Wednesday's vote in parliament, controversy still lingers over a possible reallocation of cabinet portfolios among coalition parties as government formation is under way.
Earlier, the PPRP reportedly agreed to let coalition partners take some key ministries they asked for as conditions for joining the government.
The Democrat Party had been promised the agriculture, commerce and social development portfolios while the Bhumjaithai looked set to secure a Transport Ministry post.
Even though no executives of the PPRP have stepped up to comment on the issue, some of its MPs have insisted the PPRP, which is at the core of the coalition party lineup, should control key ministries so it is able to follow through on its election promises.
PPRP list MP Somsak Thepsuthin, who is a key figure of the Sam Mitr (Three Allies) group in the PPRP, said the party needs control of the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry to make good on its election pledges.
However, he said that Gen Prayut, as the new prime minister, will have a final say on the matter.
Sira Jenjaka, a PPRP MP for Bangkok, said some PPRP MPs were concerned the appointments of cabinet ministers from other parties may prevent the party from implementing its election pledges.
Mr Sira wanted PPRP leader Uttama Savanayana and secretary-general Sontirat Sontijirawong to ensure the PPRP, which has authority over cabinet post allocations, is in charge of key ministries so it can carry out the promises in its election campaign manifestos.
Mr Uttama and Mr Sontirat are coordinating on the government's formation with other coalition parties.
Mr Sira said the PPRP should oversee important ministries which handle infrastructure and transport development projects which were initiated by the current government.
The PPRP should also play a leading role in tackling falling crop prices which need urgent measures, he said.
It is widely believed he was referring to the Transport Ministry which the Bhumjaithai Party wanted, and the Agriculture Ministry, which the Democrat Party had asked for as a condition of joining the coalition.
Anucha Noiwong, a PPRP MP for Phitsanulok and a member of the Sam Mitr group, said the group's agriculture policy which aims to help farmers took urgent precedence, so the PPRP should be allowed to take the helm at the Agriculture Ministry to implement the party's policies.
Anucha Nakasai, a PPRP MP for Chai Nat, said there is a chance that cabinet seats could be reallocated.
If coalition parties fail to strike a deal, Gen Prayut, as the prime minister, may have to step in and determine the allocation of cabinet seats.
Mr Anucha also said the Democrats' demand for a constitutional amendment as a condition of joining the coalition is secondary to solving the bread-and-butter issues that affect the general public.
Asked if the PPRP should have the Agriculture Ministry, he said straightening out problems in the farming sector is one of the PPRP's key election pledges, adding Gen Prayut will come up with measures to help relieve the plight of farmers.
PPRP MP Buddhipongse Punnakanta, a former government spokesman, admitted the quota of cabinet posts for coalition parties might be changed, though he did not confirm if a change would cover the position of agriculture minister.
Democrat leader Jurin Laksanavisit said the deal with the PPRP had been finalised, and he believed it would be honoured. Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charvirakul said the agreement with the PPRP remains unchanged, and insisted the party will push for its election pledges to be implemented.