Sam Mitr swipes energy post

Sam Mitr swipes energy post

Suriya wins cabinet job in place of Sontirat

The Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) has bowed to the Sam Mitr faction's demand to be given the energy portfolio.

The PPRP decided to defuse growing tensions after the group gave an ultimatum to the party to honour its agreement regarding cabinet seats it had been promised.

One of its demands was for the party to keep the energy portfolio for Sam Mitr's core leader Suriya Jungrungreangkit.

As a result, PPRP secretary-general Sontirat Sontijirawong on Monday announced that he would not accept the post of energy minister in the next government.

Mr Suriya was earlier tipped to be energy minister but later Mr Sontirat was offered the role, disappointing the Sam Mitr faction.

"I have no desire for and will not accept the post of energy minister. I hope things will turn out fine so we can work together for the good of the country," Mr Sontirat said.

He insisted that he was not involved in the allocation of cabinet seats and was in no position to choose any cabinet posts, and that he was ready to work at any ministry he was assigned to.

Mr Sontirat made the remarks after the Sam Mitr faction yesterday sought the dismissal of Mr Sontirat as party secretary-general for causing a rift in the coalition party.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha apologised to people for internal rifts in the PPRP, saying the new party contains many groups of members who want ministerial roles.

"The prime minister feels uneasy and must apologise to people on behalf of the PPRP as the person it nominated as prime minister," Gen Prayut wrote in his message released yesterday.

"There are some management issues in the party because it is newly established. Members come from many groups in many fields, and are determined to do their best in performing their duties as House representatives and executive duties in the cabinet," he wrote.

In personnel management, it is difficult to satisfy everyone. What's most important is to ensure people have confidence in the government and all political parties, both in government and in opposition, the premier wrote.

Gen Prayut wrote: "The government and coalition parties will start political reform to prevent the recurrence of the same political problems, which will lead to the same old solutions which no one wants."

By solutions, observers believe he was referring to "a military coup".

"The prime minister does not want to blame anyone or create any more conflict. However, the prime minister, the cabinet and all House representatives, both in the government and the opposition, must be able to work," Gen Prayut wrote.

Bangkok MP Sira Jenjaka, a Sam Mitr member, said he would submit a motion to remove Mr Sontirat as party secretary-general at the party's meeting today.

"We view him as a high risk to the stability of the party and the government. He's made several mistakes and lacks leadership. Each time I asked to see him, I was turned down and problems were never solved," he said.

He added that even now, when the PPRP was suffering a crisis, Mr Sontirat continued to refuse to talk to his group.

"We think Mr Sontirat must show responsibility by resigning as party secretary-general and not accepting a ministerial post in the cabinet," said Mr Sira.

In the June 11 line-up, Mr Suriya was tipped to be energy minister. Another core leader of the group, party-list MP Somsak Thepsuthin, was promised the justice portfolio and Chai Nat MP and group member Anucha Nakhasai was expected to be a deputy finance minister.

But the line-up was revised later, reportedly to allocate seats for the Chartpattana Party, for Don Pramudwinai to continue as foreign minister and to allow a team led by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak to control all key economic ministries.

The changes resulted in Mr Suriya being moved from energy to industry minister while Mr Anucha's name no longer appeared on the list.

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