Line-up fails to win fans

Line-up fails to win fans

Experts question stability of coalition

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha greets leaders and representatives from coalition allies at Government House on June 11 after being appointed prime minister. (Government House photo)
Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha greets leaders and representatives from coalition allies at Government House on June 11 after being appointed prime minister. (Government House photo)

Political analysts are saying the latest version of the cabinet line-up leaves a lot to be desired as some ministers-to-be are known to have sketchy track records, and that the unity of the next government will be undermined by the continued bargaining among coalition parties.

Phichai Ratnatilaka Na Bukhet, the dean of National Institute of Development Administration's (Nida) School of Social and Environmental Development, said the next government will continue to be plagued by public image issues.

"Some of the names in the unofficial cabinet line-up released to the media have questionable backgrounds," said Assoc Prof Phichai.

"Several names are currently being probed for alleged irregularities in their dealings, as well as their connections to influential figures in the 'grey business'."

Assoc Prof Phichai said some of the names on the cabinet list lack integrity and visions which will help address economic disparity, end monopolies and ensure fairness in law enforcement.

Furthermore, the dean said the government looks set to retain its policies, especially populist ones which require huge budgets.

He went on to say that ministries which are being fought over intensely among members of the Palang Pracharath Party-(PPRP) led coalition may become more prone to graft practices.

"Unless the premier keeps them on a tight leash, it will adversely affect the government's stability," Assoc Prof Phichai said.

The most recent cabinet line-up is known to feature familiar names who are known to be closely connected to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his deputies.

The list includes his three deputies -- Somkid Jatusripitak, Wissanu Krea-ngam and Gen Prawit Wongsuwon -- who are penciled in to retain their current posts.

Gen Anupong Paojinda also looks set to retain his position at the Interior Ministry.

Capt Thammanat Prompao, who is known to be close to Gen Prawit, is in line for the post of labour minister.

Senator Wanchai Sornsiri said that while political bargaining is normal among coalition partners, people are getting more fed up with politicians jostling for power with a total disregard for public concern.

He urged politicians to put the public interest before their own, and to stop exploiting public office for personal gain.

"Political reform will never get off the ground if such practices persist," Mr Wanchai said.

Given the slim majority the next government has in the House of Representatives, it must tread carefully as the opposition is always ready to scrutinise its moves.

"If the power-grabbing and backstabbing continue, it will be hard for the government to survive or stage another victory [in the next election],"he said.

Former senator, Rosana Tositrakul, said members of the coalition had fiercely fought over who gets control of the Energy Ministry, even though the ministry receives a modest budget of no more than 3 billion baht each year.

However, the energy minister has the authority to approve projects involving oil, gas, and power plants, as well as issue concessions to private investors, which can be worth trillions of baht, she said.

Ms Rosana also said the next government will not be stable because it is the result of combining MPs from various parties with different interests. "This leads to fierce competition over cabinet seats," she said.

However, Jit Siratranont, deputy chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the latest cabinet line-up is acceptable, adding that the list is "not unexpected".

"The cabinet may be comprised of some people who are competent and some who are not," said Mr Jit.

"But ultimately, the prime minister should be responsible for his choices."

Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, deputy spokesman of the PPRP, on Thursday said that Suriya Jungrungreangkit, a core member of the Sam Mitr faction, and Chai Nat MP and group member Anucha Nakasai reaffirmed that they respected Gen Prayut's decision on the line-up.

"The group holds no grudge, and will continue to work with the PPRP," he said.

Mr Anucha, who was earlier tipped to be a deputy finance minister, has been dropped from the list.

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