'No outsiders' in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday insisted that no outsiders will be brought in during the upcoming cabinet reshuffle.
A reshuffle is imminent after Nataphol Teepsuwan, former education minister; Buddhipongse Punnakanta, former digital economy and society (DES) minister; and Thaworn Senneam, former deputy transport minister, were removed from their positions after they were convicted for their leading roles in 2014 People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) demonstrations.
Gen Prayut on Thursday revealed progress in the reshuffle, saying he has asked leaders of the government coalition parties to nominate candidates for the ministerial posts by the end of this month.
A list of candidates is expected to be drafted before Gen Prayut requests an audience with His Majesty the King for new ministers to be sworn in at a ceremony.
"Stop speculating who will get which cabinet post," Gen Prayut said. "It is up to party leaders to nominate, and I will choose."
"There should be no problem because this will be a minor reshuffle," he said.
When asked by reporters if outsiders would be brought into the cabinet, the prime minister said the issue is about the quotas held by coalition parties. "No outsiders. Period," the PM said.
Mr Buddhipongse and Mr Nataphol are members of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), while Mr Thaworn is from the Democrat Party. The trio was among 26 people convicted by the Criminal Court over their roles in the PDRC protests which culminated in the May 2014 coup that ousted the Yingluck Shinawatra administration.
Culture Minister Itthiphol Kunplome, who is tipped to succeed Mr Buddhipongse, said the selection of ministers should be left to Gen Prayut and Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, deputy prime minister and leader of PPRP.
Mr Itthiphol, who also serves as acting DES minister, said he was ready to work in any role for the sake of the country. He said workflow won't be disrupted at the DES ministry should he be chosen for the job and have to move.
A PPRP source said many party members were surprised to hear reports that Trinuch Thienthong, the PPRP MP for Sa Kaeo, may be tipped to take the culture portfolio during the reshuffle. The source said this could be a rumour because she is rarely seen at PPRP events and a candidate should be devoted to the party's work.