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PM seeks sweeping reshuffle

Posted by arnon_k On October - 26 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Pre-censure debate rejig ‘to disconcert opposition’
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra confirmed yesterday she was seeking royal endorsement for a sweeping cabinet reshuffle _ a move seen as a bid to cushion the impact of the censure debate by the opposition at the end of the month.

A government source said the reshuffle would affect 23 cabinet seats and involve 14 new faces, including prominent politicians who are members of the so-called House No.111 _ the former executives of the dissolved Thai Rak Thai Party.

They include legal expert Pongthep Thepkanchana, who is expected to be appointed as first deputy prime minister to oversee legal affairs and to double as education minister.

Pongsak Raktapongpaisal is tipped for the post of energy minister while Varathep Rattanakorn is expected to become PM’s office minister. All of them are close aides of deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The source said the government is confident the reshuffle will provide a line-up of politicians with debating skills to counter the opposition.

Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom has been a target for the Democrat Party over the rice pledging scheme. But he is likely to keep his post thanks to his close ties with Yaowapa Wongsawat, Ms Yingluck’s elder sister.

Removal of Mr Boonsong from the cabinet could signal the end for the government’s rice pledging programme.

The source said Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Nattawut Saikuar, known for his oratory skills, would be appointed as deputy commerce minister to respond to the opposition on behalf of Mr Boonsong.

The government will be expected to explain to the red shirts why red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan has been excluded from the new cabinet list.

Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, a political scientist at Sripatum University, told the Bangkok Post that the unexpected reshuffle ahead of the censure debate would throw the opposition off balance, forcing it to revise its debate plan.

Cabinet ministers such as Education Minister Suchart Thada-Thamrongvech, who is expected to be replaced by Mr Pongthep, were already in the opposition’s cross-hairs.

With his experience, Mr Pongthep should give the government reason to hope that he could better deal with any potential political problems that might take place.

“The new cabinet line-up will strengthen the government,” the source said. “The new cabinet members will help respond to criticism during the debate more efficiently.”

Ms Yingluck yesterday confirmed that a cabinet reshuffle list has been submitted to His Majesty the King for endorsement.

The reshuffle was intended to improve the cabinet’s efficiency and to fill the seat left vacant by Yongyuth Wichaidit who resigned from the posts of deputy prime minister and interior minister.

Agriculture Minister Theera Wongsamut has also asked to quit his ministerial post, Ms Yingluck said.

The prime minister dismissed suggestions that the cabinet changes were designed to protect cabinet ministers from opposition grilling during the censure debate.

Ms Yingluck said she was personally satisfied with the overall picture of the new cabinet, which would have more capable people with high levels of knowledge and abilities. She denied her elder brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was involved in the cabinet overhaul.

At parliament yesterday, government ministers and MPs from the ruling party were surprised by the unexpected changes.

A Pheu Thai Party source said Mr Jatuporn was not included in the new cabinet list because the red-shirt movement is given only a quota of one cabinet seat, which is now occupied by Mr Nattawut, another red-shirt co-leader.

The source said Pheu Thai bigwigs have agreed that it is not the right time to give Mr Jatuporn a ministerial post as this could invite resistance from the party’s critics who plan to hold political rallies against the government.

The source said Pheu Thai MP for Nan, Cholnan Srikaew, had been appointed to be deputy public health minister under the quota of Pheu Thai MPs from the North. The source said he has the backing of Ms Yaowapa, Mr Thaksin’s younger sister.

Pheu Thai MP for Samut Prakan, Worachai Hema, another red-shirt core member, said that red-shirt supporters wanted Mr Jatuporn to join the cabinet to help Mr Nattawut look after their interests.

Pheu Thai list-MP and red-shirt leader Viputhalaeng Pattanaphumthai said some red shirts were disappointed and unhappy that Mr Jatuporn was not part of the new cabinet line-up.

However, Mr Viputhalaeng said the relations between the Pheu Thai Party and the red-shirt movement remain intact.
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Yingluck insists she will stay on as PM

Posted by arnon_k On March - 24 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Ex-politicians free from ban will not take over

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra says she will maintain her premiership after 111 veteran politicians of the defunct Thai Rak Thai Party legally return to political roles when the five-year ban on them expires in May.

It is the first time Ms Yingluck has given this assurance since she took the portfolio about seven months ago.

“I won’t resign,” she responded to a question as to whether she would step aside to pave the way for the veteran politicians.

Ms Yingluck was addressing journalists at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand last night.

Ms Yingluck said she has a mandate to rule the country because she led the party to win the majority of the votes at the past election.

“Time will prove how I can run the country,” she said.

She said, however, her government would welcome any capable person to work for the government with herself as the leader.

In a recent interview with the Bangkok Post, Ms Yingluck’s elder brother and former prime minister Thaksin said when the banned politicians officially return to politics, they would join his sister’s government, but it is not a must for them to take ministerial portfolios.

“They may be advisers [to the Yingluck government],” Thaksin said.

The 111 senior politicians, who were executives of the Thai Rak Thai Party, were banned from politics for five years by the Constitution Court following the dissolution of the party on May 30, 2007.

Ms Yingluck also rejected criticisms that Thaksin made the decisions on behalf of her government.

Ms Yingluck’s 60-minute talk was delivered in English and touched on various issues including the post-flood economy, water management plans, reconciliation, the charter amendment, women’s development and her favourite songs.

Regarding the reconciliation efforts, Ms Yingluck said justice must be done for all and everything must be based on the rule of law.

The government had followed proposals made by the Truth for Reconciliation Commission, chaired by Kanit na Nakhon, and had prepared 1.9 billion baht to compensate those affected by political unrest, Ms Yingluck said.

On charter amendment, Ms Yingluck said the move was aimed to create political stability in the country and to help all Thais – not individuals.

She said the matter was now in the parliamentary process and a constitution drafting assembly would be established soon.

The prime minister also briefed reporters about the government’s flood prevention scheme, saying the government had earmarked US$11.4 billion for flood prevention projects. Plans to safeguard industrial estates from further inundation are now in place, she said.

When asked if she had any favourite songs such as her predecessor Abhisit Vejjajiva, who is known to have a wide interest in music and sport, Ms Yingluck said she liked “easy listening” music.

She has about 5,000 songs, both Thai and foreign, recorded in her iPod and she likes listening to them while travelling or when under pressure.

No problems with the military : PM

Posted by arnon_k On December - 14 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Prime Minister Yingluck Shina-watra was coy yesterday on the potentially explosive plan to wrest some control from the military by amending the Defence Ministry Administration Act, saying nothing would go against right “principles”.

Meeting military top brass for another day, the prime minister voiced confidence in the mutual trust between her government and the military, ruling out concern about being ousted by a coup like her brother Thaksin.

“I have confidence in my striving to serve the public and no one should speculate on my end because only the people can be the judge,” she said.

Yingluck was talking to reporters after her introductory visit to the Supreme Command headquarters.

She admitted that as the country’s first female prime minister, she had initial reservations about the Armed Forces but her concerns were allayed after meeting and working with the military leaders.

Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha led the top commanders to welcome her with all the usual pomp, including a guard of honour inspection, organised indoors to be spared the scorching sun.

Supreme Commander General Thanasak Patimapakorn accompanied the prime minister to tour the headquarters, including the main communications room where the joint chiefs of staff monitor the situation.

In her policy statement given to the military, Yingluck emphasised two security priorities: safeguarding the monarchy and bringing about reconciliation.

She said all her fellow Thais shared the same aspiration as the government and the Armed Forces to ensure national unity.

She said her government was looking forward to working with the Armed Forces, particularly the Military Development Corps, to improve the country’s infrastructure.

She said the government and the military had proved they could work together well during the flood crisis.

She pledged to back the military development and expected, in return, cooperation from the Armed Forces in dealing with security issues.

Regarding the push to amend the Defence Ministry Administration Act, she said she had not had time to review the issue and did not expect the debate on the provisions on military appointments to come up at this juncture.

“My priority is to work with the Armed Forces in addressing the people’s grievances,” she said.

Although certain Pheu Thai MPs might have wanted to amend the military provisions, the Cabinet would have the final say on whether to sponsor the proposed amendments, she said.

“We have to differentiate between people’s rights to say things they like and the fact that the final decision on such matters rests with the Cabinet,” she said.

The alleged plan to amend the act would give the government more power in key military reshuffles, which are currently in the hands of a defence committee dominated by top-ranking soldiers.

Yingluck said she had complete confidence in the Armed Forces, quelling speculation about distrust between the government and the military.

Chavarat wants to talk with PM

Posted by arnon_k On October - 19 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Bhumjaithai Party leader Chavarat Charnvirakul said on Monday he wants to talk with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to improve understanding between them.

Mr Chavarat’s remark came after Mr Abhisit said on Sunday any party which felt uncomfortable being in the coalition was free to tell him so, and they could leave.

Mr Abhisit did not specifically name any of the parties in the coaltion, but it was believed his remark was directed at Bhumjaithai, which has been on the end of corruption allegations.

Mr Chavarat, who is interior minister in the coaltion government, said he hioped to talk with Mr Abhisit to clear up matters which might have caused misunderstandings.

He said corruption allegations involving the Interior Ministry were not supported by evidence.

There were no problems with the position of permanent secretary for interior although Provincial Administration Department director-general Mongkol Surasajja announced he would not accept the job, in the wake of alleged corruption in a computer leasing project.

Kwanchai Wongnitikorn, the acting permanent secretary for interior, and Vichien Chavalit, director-general of the Community Development Department, were now potential candidates for the position, Mr Chavarat said.

House Speaker Chai Chidchob downplayed the matter, saying the prime minister might have made a slip of the tongue.

Mr Chai, a Bhumjaithai member, said forming a government is not an easy task. In a coalition government, it was normal for parties to have disagreements.

He believed senior figures of both the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties were still on good terms.

“Nobody felt uneasy being in the coalition. Bhumjaithai is 10,000 per cent with the government. However, it all depends on the destiny of the country and Bhumjaithai. The prime minister has the power to drop a party from the coalition,” Mr Chai said.

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