Foreign Minister Parnpree quits after major reshuffle
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Foreign Minister Parnpree quits after major reshuffle

Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara tenders his resignation to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin from his cabinet post on Sunday. (Photo: Government House)
Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara tenders his resignation to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin from his cabinet post on Sunday. (Photo: Government House)

Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara tendered his resignation from his cabinet post on Sunday to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin after the cabinet reshuffle list saw him lose his seat as deputy prime minister.

Mr Parnpree served as a deputy prime minister and the foreign minister prior to the cabinet reshuffle. In the new line-up, he was assigned only the foreign affairs portfolio.

In a resignation letter to the prime minister, Mr Parnpree expressed his intention to step down from the Foreign Affairs Ministry post after he was removed from the deputy prime minister's post.

Mr Parnpree, a member of the ruling Pheu Thai Party, said he believed the reason he was removed had nothing to do with a lack of achievements. He outlined his accomplishments since he joined the cabinet last year.

Mr Parnpree expressed confidence that he served well in the areas of international affairs and international economy with honesty and integrity, attracted more foreign investments as announced by the government and effectively implemented the government's proactive economic diplomacy to open trade doors.

He said he was committed to ensuring the safety of Thais overseas, travelling abroad to negotiate for the release of Thai nationals held hostage following the Hamas-Israel violence. He also mentioned the release of Thais held in Laukkaing in Myanmar.

He also thanked the prime minister for giving him the opportunity to work.

Mr Parnpree confirmed his resignation from Mr Srettha's cabinet in a media interview on​ Sunday, saying it was to "uphold the principle" and that he had total confidence in his work in both roles.

He said that holding just the foreign ministerial post could hinder his work in international affairs and that there were other qualified candidates to assume the role.

Asked if he would continue working with the ruling Pheu Thai Party, Mr Parnpree said he would decide on his political career later.

Business sector welcomes new finance minister

Former energy executive Pichai Chunhavajira was named finance minister on Sunday, in the hope he will be able to revive the battered economy. Mr Pichai took over as finance minister from Mr Srettha.

Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of Thai Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the appointment of Mr Pichai, in particular, saying the appointment came at the right time. Mr Pichai, 76, will help the prime minister oversee the disbursement of the 2024 budget which is due to begin next month and needs to be accelerated for the sake of economic stimulation and tourism promotion. 

"Mr Pichai has a proven track record in finance and economics and he understands the private sector’s needs, which now makes him the sector's new hope to see improvement in the country’s economic situation," said Mr Sanan.

Sanga Ruangwattanakul, president of the Khao San Road Business Association, also pinned his hopes on the new finance minister’s ability to lead the government in tackling factors hindering its economic stimulation efforts, including high interest rates.

Mr Pichai has not only been well known in the business sector but he is also known to have a close connection with the ruling political camp, said a source.

Questions raised over appointment of Thaksin's ex-lawyer

The appointment of Pichit Chuenban, an adviser to the prime minister and Thaksin’s former lawyer, as a new Prime Minister's Office Minister, meanwhile, has also stirred controversy.

Democrat Party spokesman Rames Rattanachaweng said the move was problematic, saying Mr Pichit could be deemed under Section 160 of the constitution unfit to be appointed to the cabinet. The section stipulates about moral and ethical standards of a cabinet minister.

Mr Pichit was sentenced by the Supreme Court to six months in prison for contempt of court for offering a sealed box containing about 2 million baht in cash to a senior administrative officer of the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions in 2008.

Four cabinet ministers have lost their jobs in this shake-up. They are Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew, Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chaiya Promma, Prime Minister's Office Minister Puangpet Chunlaiad and Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Anucha Nakasai.

Mr Chaiya said he still could not understand why he was axed from the cabinet, which cost him the opportunity to keep representing farmers.

Nattacha Boonchaiinsawat, a Move Forward Party MP for Bangkok, said axing Public Health Minister Cholnan was the proof of Pheu Thai’s old school mentality in which a cabinet portfolio is seen an asset that needs to change hands constantly to keep political allies happy.

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