Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) MP Chaiwut Thanakhamanusorn is tipped to become the digital economy and society (DES) minister while PPRP MP for Sa Kaeo, Trinuch Thienthong, is poised to take the helm at the Education Ministry in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle, a party source said yesterday.
This contradicted earlier speculation that Mr Chaiwut was being groomed for the education slot and Ms Trinuch for the culture portfolio, succeeding Itthiphol Kunplome who was earlier touted to take over the DES ministry. The source said the latest development came as a surprise for several PPRP members.
According to the source, Ms Trinuch's appointment was likely due to her family's close ties with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Deputy Prime Minister and PPRP leader Prawit Wongsuwon and Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda, which date back to the days when all three were in the army and based in Prachin Buri.
The Thienthong clan is believed to command political influence in Prachin Buri from which Sa Kaeo broke away and became the country's 74th province. The ruling PPRP needs to fill two vacant cabinet posts after Nataphol Teepsuwan and Buddhipongse Punnakanta were removed as education and DES ministers respectively following their conviction in the Criminal Court over their role in the 2013-2014 street protests.
Gen Prawit, who has submitted the PPRP picks for the cabinet posts to the prime minister, has remained tight-lipped about who gets what.
Meanwhile, Democrat Party secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on said party executives will meet today to finalise their pick for the post of deputy transport minister left vacant by Thaworn Senneam.
Mr Thaworn was also removed from office after being convicted for his involvement in the 2013-2014 demonstrations led by the now-defunct People's Democratic Reform Committee.
It is thought that the MP for Phatthalung, Naris Khamnurak, is likely to be named deputy transport minister to succeed Mr Thaworn.
On reports that the Democrats will trade cabinet posts with coalition partner Bhumjaithai Party, Mr Chalermchai insisted that no such discussions had taken place.
Early this week, Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul said he thought about swapping some ministerial posts with the Democrats in the shake-up.
It sparked rumours one might involve the deputy transport post as Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob from Bhumjaithai may want to work with a deputy from his own party.