Somkid hints he'll 'accept' chop

Somkid hints he'll 'accept' chop

Reshuffle may leave economic tsar in cold

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana lead a meeting to help SMEs at the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion on June 29, 2020. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana lead a meeting to help SMEs at the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion on June 29, 2020. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak has hinted that he is prepared to accept his fate if Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha decides to reshuffle the cabinet.

A decision to shake up the cabinet is the prerogative of the prime minister, Mr Somkid said, adding that he believed the prime minister would choose suitable people.

"I have been prepared for a long time. I am old now. I already lost heart years ago," said Mr Somkid who is known to be the government's economic tsar.

Mr Somkid said that political problems will have an impact on the stability of the economy and therefore, it is necessary to make sure politics goes smoothly.

When it comes to appointing cabinet ministers, the prime minister will have to choose the right person for the right job and put the national interest first, Mr Somkid said, adding it is normal for cabinet ministers to come and go in a government.

Commenting on the resignation from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) of three cabinet ministers, Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana, Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong and Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Minister Suvit Maesincee, Mr Somkid said this was an internal affair of the party, and it will not affect the government's work.

Kobsak Pootrakul, deputy secretary-general of the prime minister, also resigned.

All four members who resigned from the PPRP are part of the economic team engineered by Mr Somkid.

Gen Prayut postponed a meeting of economic ministers originally scheduled for yesterday. Instead, the prime minister met his economic advisers, representatives of the private sector as well as from the Bank of Thailand to listen to their opinions on economic rehabilitation during the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Somkid and Mr Uttama were present at the meeting.

The prime minister has attached great importance to helping small and medium-sized entrepreneurs affected by the economic impact of Covid-19, Mr Somkid said.

"It is the right thing for the prime minister, as the head of the economic team, to have all necessary information [before the full meeting of economic ministers] because as a coalition government, all ministries must move forward together," Mr Somkid said.

Gen Prayut confirmed on Thursday that a cabinet reshuffle will be necessary.

The resignations of the three ministers followed a leadership change inside the party last month that saw Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon rise to replace Mr Uttama as party leader, and Anucha Nakasai replacing Mr Sontirat as secretary-general.

Some PPRP members backing Gen Prawit have demanded a cabinet reshuffle now the party has a new leader, but Gen Prayut has kept them guessing, a party source said.

Speaking at the PPRP's general assembly on Friday, the first under his leadership, Gen Prawit called for unity among party members, confirming all members will be treated equally under his leadership.

"I love you all equally. I want everyone to stop quarrelling ... I know that everyone wants justice and equality. There must be an answer to inequality. The party must be unified without factions. Whatever happened in the past, you must put all this behind you. From now on, I will take responsibility," Gen Prawit said.

Mr Anucha said yesterday that the resignations of the four were "an amicable breakup", adding that they have made contributions to the party. Mr Anucha also said that the PPRP has not yet discussed who will be nominated for cabinet posts.

Thanwa Krairirk, a former poll candidate who resigned from the PPRP, posted on Facebook, saying that cabinet seats are not the assets of any party or anyone, but are national assets.

When someone is removed from the cabinet, a suitable replacement must be found to fill the post, Mr Thanwa said.

If there is no such a person in the party, an outsider must be brought in, he added.

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