Appoint Suriya, PM urged

Appoint Suriya, PM urged

PPRP wants him to get plum energy post

Suriya: Co-founder of Sam Mitr
Suriya: Co-founder of Sam Mitr

The ruling Palang Pracharath Party has proposed Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit becomes the new energy minister in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle.

Mr Suriya is a co-founder of the party's Sam Mitr faction, which insists that the energy post be returned from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's quota to the party's quota and that Mr Suriya be given the job.

The move follows Gen Prayut claim that it was his right to determine who should fill the position, as well as three other cabinet portfolios left vacant by the resignations of Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana, Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong and Higher Education, Science and Innovations Minister Suvit Maesincee.

The four resigned last week along with Kobsak Pootrakul, deputy secretary-general of the prime minister, in a move they said would make it easier for Gen Prayut to implement his cabinet reshuffle.

Gen Prayut has also admitted to approaching some outsiders to join the economic team and fill these four cabinet seats, which has led to speculation that former deputy transport minister Pailin Chuchottaworn would be made the new energy minister.

Asked previously by Government House reporters if he would pick Mr Pailin as the new energy minister, Gen Prayut simply replied by asking what would be wrong with that.

Deputy party leader Paiboon Nititawan, however, said on Monday that Mr Pailin was unsuitable for the energy portfolio because he was a former executive of oil and gas company PTT and the government would end up being accused of having a conflict of interest if a man with his background were made the energy minister overseeing PTT's industry.

"As an executive of the PPRP I will nominate Mr Suriya for Gen Prayut's appointment of the new energy minister because he is qualified for the cabinet position given his educational background and work experience," said Mr Paiboon.

"This, however, won't affect the PM's right to have the final say on the cabinet reshuffle. All we, as a coalition partner, want is to get this straight.

"The energy ministry is seen as an indicator of righteousness, so, if our party misses out an opportunity to take care of the ministry, how could we explain that to the party's MPs?"

If the PM insists that the four economic cabinet minister positions -- transport, energy, agriculture and cooperatives, plus commerce are under his quota -- every cabinet position should be reviewed, he said.

A key figure in the coalition says the PPRP intends to nominate Mr Suriya at the party's meeting today.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, who is also the PPRP leader, has dismissed speculation that he promised to make Mr Suriya the new energy minister in the cabinet reshuffle, saying it was a matter for the PM alone to decide.

The same key coalition figure said Gen Prayut was still undecided as to who should fill the four economic cabinet ministers' positions and intended to finalise that part of the reshuffle before anything else.

Gen Prayut on Monday had a private chat with Kasikornbank co-president Predee Daochai, a man he hopes will join the cabinet as new finance minister, the source said.

Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan, in his capacity as a deputy PPRP leader, said everyone in the party is entitled to have their own opinion and express it freely. He was confident the party's executives would nominate people suitable to be appointed to cabinet positions.

According to an informed source, a group in the PPRP is also pushing to nominate Mr Nataphol as the new energy minister.

In another development on Monday, the Chart Pattana Party has passed a resolution that its leader, Tewan Liptapanlop, should resign from the position of Prime Minister's Office Minister, said party adviser Suwat Liptapanlop.

Mr Suwat, who is the chairman of the party's advisory committee, said Mr Tewan duly submitted his resignation on Monday -- he thus became the the fifth minister to resign in quick succession -- and it would take effect today. Mr Suwat said the resignation would help pave the way for Gen Prayut to reshuffle the cabinet without further concerns.

Katerat Laothamatas, of the Action Coalition for Thailand, said the party had been notified by the office of the Labour Minister that its minister, MR Chatu Mongol Sonakul, also resigned on Monday. That has not yet been verified.

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