PM plays down rejig talk
Newbies to get one year to prove worth
Incoming ministers will be given up to one year to prove their worth in the yet-to-be finalised cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said.
The prime minister also said that some outsiders tipped to become finance minister and energy minister have not yet confirmed their intention to join the cabinet.
Gen Prayut said on Thursday the cabinet shake-up is primarily intended to find replacements for the six ministers who have recently resigned. The reshuffle is expected to be complete by the middle of next month, he said, adding that prospective ministers are being approached to join the cabinet, and their qualifications are being checked.
The six cabinet members who have resigned included Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana, Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong and Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Minister Suvit Maesincee.
The four resigned last week along with Kobsak Pootrakul, deputy secretary-general to 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.
Commenting on outsiders who have been reportedly approached to join the cabinet, Gen Prayut said that he has not yet received clear confirmations from them.
Sources earlier said the new cabinet line-up includes Predee Daochai, a co-president of Kasikornbank and chairman of the Thai Bankers' Association, who will likely become deputy prime minister and concurrently serve as finance minister.
Gen Prayut also refused to comment when asked about his negotiations with Suthep Thaugsuban, a co-founder of the Action Coalition for Thailand (ACT) Party to exchange the post of higher education, science and innovations minister for the Labour Ministry post which is under the ACT's quota.
"Why do you want to know? It's my procedure for administration," Gen Prayut replied.
Gen Prayut also said he expected to have a cabinet comprising decent people who are enthusiastic about their work. There are not only political issues that need to be fixed, but matters related to the running of government affairs also require attention. "Trust the prime minister. I will do my best," Gen Prayut said.
Mr Suthep, a former leader of the now defunct People's Democratic Reform Committee, revealed on Thursday that Gen Prayut telephoned him to ask for the labour portfolio which belongs to the ACT's quota in exchange for the higher education, science and innovations ministerial position which will be given to Anek Laothamatas, a member of the ACT's executive committee.
Mr Suthep said that he told Gen Prayut the ACT was set up to support the prime minister's efforts to steer the country forward, and the decision to choose ministers remains the premier's.
Anusorn Iamsa-ard, spokesman for the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, said if the cabinet line-up reported by the media is correct, the public will not benefit from it, adding: "The people have lost time and opportunities because of this vacuum in the government's handling of our national crisis."