Prawit leaves the shade
Deputy prime minister takes helm of PPRP after working behind the scenes
Rebalancing power within the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) is the top priority for Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon now that he has assumed leadership of the ruling party.
A member of the PPRP who wished not to be named told the Bangkok Post yesterday the appointment of 27 executives, including Gen Prawit as leader and Anucha Nakasai as secretary-general, is a clear sign the coalition leader is moving to harmonise the various factions which grouped together under a single banner to win the general election in March last year.
All the former executives, except deposed party leader and Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana, and seven others who have close affiliations with him, were reinstated at the general assembly forced by the mass resignation of 18 executives on June 1.
According to the source, Mr Uttama and his group were removed from the executive committee because they had kept their distance from the party MPs.
Gen Prawit did not attend the general assembly yesterday but released a minute-long clip to thank members for their overwhelming support.
"Our party is young but we can build trust among the public. I am ready to work for the party and bring you stability, confidence and unity. I urge you all to stay united which is vital to consolidating our party and winning people's trust.
"Today is the day we start building strength and establishing a political organisation. Under my leadership, the party will go from strength to strength under the constitutional monarchy."
Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan, who was among the executives who resigned, yesterday described the change as necessary to help the party respond better to the fluctuating situation.
He said the PPRP wants to win more elections and expressed confidence Gen Prawit will bring the MPs closer and steer the party in the right direction.
"We've done a good job so far but today we have set a new objective -- to have MPs in every constituency," he said.
Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta said Gen Prawit has charisma and can reshape a party so it increases its House seats in the next election.
He said the deputy premier, who was appointed the party's chief strategist last year, can bring together the party's various factions. "The PPRP isn't a temporary party and we want the party to prosper. That's why we need Gen Prawit there. Our ultimate goal is to win more seats," he said.
Former leader Mr Uttama said yesterday the work of a party was never-ending but he, former party secretary-general Sontirat Sontijirawong and others who helped found the PPRP had fulfilled important tasks including supporting Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to become prime minister.
Asked about the new executive committee from which his group was conspicuously absent, Mr Uttama said he had no idea if political games were being played but insisted he would stay put in the party.
Mr Sontirat, the energy minister, yesterday extended congratulations to the new executives and said he remains with the PPRP. On speculation the leadership change would lead to a reshuffle and their exit from the cabinet, Mr Uttama and Mr Sontirat said that would be determined by the prime minister. Few MPs seem worried about Gen Prawit's poor reputation with the public for the saga over the luxury watches.