First coalition dinner 'went well'; BJT to host next one

First coalition dinner 'went well'; BJT to host next one

The first coalition party dinner on Wednesday was cordial, with no haggling for political favours between parties in the government, according to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.

In fact, the get-together of coalition party leaders, hosted by the ruling Pheu Thai Party, went well, and it was agreed that one should be held every month, according to Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai, quoting Mr Srettha.

It was their first coalition dinner since the formation of the government two months ago, and Bhumjaithai will host the next one, Mr Phumtham, who attended the event, said.

Mr Srettha said the casual dinner provided an intimate, close-knit setting for coalition members to exchange ideas and convey friendly suggestions about work.

The prime minister, with a business background in real estate, said he was new to politics and was looking to coalition party leaders with more political experience for advice.

The dinner was attended by United Thai Nation (UTN) Party leader Pirapan Salirathavibhaga; Bhumjaithai's (BJT) Anutin Charnvirakul; the Palang Pracharath Party's (PPRP) Pol Gen Phatcharavat Wongsuwan, who was filling in for party leader and elder brother, Gen Prawit Wongsuwon; and Chartthaipattana's Varawut Silpa-archa. Pheu Thai leader Paetongtarn "Ung Ing" Shinawatra was also in attendance.

Mr Srettha said he was humbled by the party leaders' long experience in politics and has taken their advice onboard.

"The talks were friendly, set in a relaxing atmosphere," he said, adding the party had gone on until 10pm. "I thought we should do it more often."

Mr Srettha said the talks they held over dinner did not touch on heavy issues or involve any haggling or bargaining for political favours.

Mr Phumtham, meanwhile, said during the dinner, coalition parties agreed to coordinate more closely.

He denied being embroiled in a conflict with Industry Minister Pimphattra Wichaikul from the UTN over the sugar prices freeze.

Mr Phumtham is also the commerce minister who ordered a peg on sugar prices by declaring it a controlled commodity.

The move was thought to have irked the Industry Ministry, which fears it could complicate the balance in the domestic sugar supply.

Internal strife was speculated to have prompted the parties to meet over dinner to patch things up. However, the government insisted its unity remained solid.

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