Prayut denies rumours of imminent reshuffle

Prayut denies rumours of imminent reshuffle

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha talks to students during his visit to Pibool Uppatham School in Huai Khwang district of Bangkok on Monday as he kicked off a vaccination campaign for students. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha talks to students during his visit to Pibool Uppatham School in Huai Khwang district of Bangkok on Monday as he kicked off a vaccination campaign for students. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday poured cold water on speculation that a cabinet reshuffle involving key ministerial posts may be imminent.

In the rumoured shake-up, Supachai Panitchpakdi, the former secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, was to be made head of the government's economic team take on the energy portfolio as well as title of deputy prime minister. 

Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda was also said to be assuming a dual role as another deputy prime minister while Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai was thought to be losing his foreign minister seat.

On Monday, Gen Prayut told reporters at Pibool Uppatham School in Huai Khwang district of Bangkok that the rumour was baseless. 

"I'm not going in for the reshuffle," he said.

Gen Prayut kicked off the nationwide vaccination drive for students at the school.

The premier added no one should believe stories which have been embellished or distorted. "These are fictitious stories. If anyone should have queries or doubts, they ought to tune in to state-run channels for information," he said. 

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon also denied a cabinet reshuffle was upcoming as there were other, more pressing priorities to attend to, such as the flood crisis. 

Gen Prawit, who also leads the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), said the prime minister has not consulted him over any changes to the present line-up.

Meanwhile, Prinn Panitchpakdi, deputy leader of the coalition Democrat Party and Mr Supachai's son, said the rumours of a cabinet appointment for his father were unfounded and there had been no talks with senior government officials over the prospect. 

Mr Supachai remains closely connected to the Democrats and has been working as a member of the party's think tank. His father has heard of the rumour and insisted there was no truth in it, Mr Prinn added.

Deputy Interior Minister Niphon Bunyamanee joined the chorus of senior figures who came out to rebut the rumour but acknowledged the prime minister's right to change the makeup of the cabinet as he sees fit as long as coalition parties still retain their ministerial quotas.

Mr Niphon appeared to make a point of noting this caveat after concerns were raised over potential friction between the PPRP and the Democrats involving the supervision of some departments under the Agriculture Ministry.

The issue was triggered by the earlier resignation of Capt Thamanat Prompao as deputy agriculture minister. He had supervised four departments at the ministry and Gen Prawit, as deputy prime minister, had been authorised by the cabinet to take over the supervision of those agencies. 

It had been said that some believed the departments should have remained under the supervisory responsibility of Jurin Laksanawisit, another deputy prime minister, and also commerce minister. Mr Jurin is the Democrat Party leader. 

Gen Prawit said the departments were being overseen by the PPRP so they can work in line with the party's policy. 

Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on, who is also the Democrat secretary-general, said there was nothing wrong with Gen Prawit supervising the departments.

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