PM finalises his reshuffle
PPRP may miss out on key energy post
published : 22 Jul 2020 at 04:00
newspaper section: News
writer: Nattaya Chetchotiros, Mongkol Bangprapa andn Aekarach Sattaburuth
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says he has completed his new cabinet line-up and all that remains is for the qualifications of the new ministers to be checked.
Of most interest is the energy portfolio, which is expected to be given to an outsider, according to government sources, despite the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) saying it should make the appointment based on the post being within its quota.
Speaking after Tuesday's cabinet meeting, the PM said that following the resignations of six ministers he would announce the cabinet line-up as soon as possible.
Gen Prayut said after those chosen to fill the cabinet posts have been invited and accepted the invitations, their qualifications must be checked. Once the formalities have been completed, the new cabinet line-up will go to His Majesty the King for endorsement and the swearing-in ceremony will follow.
"You can be certain that I will do this as soon as possible," he added.
Asked about friction with the ruling party, particularly over whether the post of energy minister fell under the party's quota or the prime minister's, Gen Prayut said there had been no problems and he had talked with Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, the PPRP leader.
"We did not talk about whose quota the post belongs to. I will see to it that the line-up is suitable. Everybody has the right to speak out but it is I who make the decision, based on mutual understanding," Gen Prayut said.
"I think the reshuffle will be finished soon. As I have said, there are steps to be taken under the law."
He declined to say whether Bansarn Bunnag, the prime minister's deputy secretary-general, would be in the new cabinet or whether Don Pramudwinai would remain as foreign minister. "Just wait for the announcement," he said.
Gen Prayut refused to confirm whether Suriya Jungrungreangkit, the industry minister, would be shifted to oversee the Energy Ministry.
Mr Suriya is a co-founder of the party's Sam Mitr faction, which insists that the energy post be returned from the prime minister's quota to the party's quota and that Mr Suriya be given the job.
The move followed Gen Prayut's 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 carry out his cabinet reshuffle.
On Monday, the Chart Pattana Party's Tewan Liptapanlop also resigned from the position of PM's office minister, while MR Chatu Mongol Sonakul resigned as labour minister.
According to a government source, the new cabinet line-up includes Predee Daochai, a co-president of Kasikornbank and chairman of the Thai Bankers' Association, who will become deputy prime minister and concurrently serve as finance minister.
Former deputy transport minister Pailin Chuchottaworn is also said to be touted for the sought-after role of energy minister.
This would mean Mr Suriya's hope of securing the energy portfolio in the cabinet reshuffle has been dashed again, the source said.
The source added that the list of nominees for cabinet posts under the party's quota proposed by Tuesday's meeting of PPRP MPs had been rejected by the prime minister.
The meeting on Tuesday concluded that Mr Suriya, the industry minister, should be shifted to the Energy Ministry, the source said.
The meeting also agreed that Anucha Nakhasai, the party's secretary-general, should be nominated for the industry minister post, replacing Mr Suriya while Suchart Chomklin, a PPRP MP for Chon Buri, would become labour minister, and Narumon Pinyosinwat, the government spokeswoman, would become the PM's office minister.
The meeting also nominated Gen Prawit for the interior minister post, only to be turned down by Gen Prawit himself, the source said.
Gen Prawit also informed a meeting of the party's executive committee that he had discussed with Gen Prayut the party's ministerial quota, and Gen Prayut told him that he had allocated only two cabinet seats to the party, the source said.
"The prime minister will decide who from the party will assume the two cabinet posts," the source quoted Gen Prawit as saying.
Commenting on the post of labour minister, Gen Prawit said it was originally part of the Action Coalition for Thailand Party's quota, according to the source. "We cannot get them out unless they move out themselves," he quoted Gen Prawit as saying.
But the source said that the only two PPRP MPs correctly tipped for cabinet posts would be Mr Anucha, who would become higher education, science and innovations minister, replacing Mr Suvit, and Mr Suchart, who would be named as PM's office minister, replacing Mr Tewan.