Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday rejected the allegation by former PM and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva about offering jobs in the government to politicians in exchange for their support of a future bid by Prayut for the premiership.
However, he also showed sympathy towards those politicians and former MPs who he said did not have enough opportunity to express their opinions and were neglected by their party executives.
“There is the accusation that the National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO] or the government would go and force individuals, businessmen and the people [to bend to my will]. How do I get the power to do that?” Prayut said in response to remarks made by on Abhisit on Monday.
The development came after widespread speculation that the NCPO was trying to approach politicians from different parties with a view to their joining forces to support Prayut’s return as premier following the next general election.
Abhisit said that not only members of medium-sized parties, but also those in the Democrat Party had been offered jobs in the government in exchange for their support.
Last week, Palang Chon Party leader Sontaya Khunplome was appointed a political adviser to Prayut.
Political analysts viewed the appointment as a clear sign that Palang Chon – influential in the Eastern seaboard area – would be part of a network of allies backing Prayut in the election.
Moreover, a mobile Cabinet meeting next month will take place in Buri Ram province, a political stronghold of the Phum Jai Thai Party and its popular founder and politician, Newin Chidchob.
Political observers have speculated that Prayut will try to make a deal with Phum Jai Thai during the excursion.
However, the premier said on Tuesday after the weekly Cabinet meeting that he did not want anyone to say that he was “luring politicians to join his pro-junta party”.
There was no way the pro-military party could lure anyone unless their current affiliate parties had not done their job well, Prayut suggested.
“Did they take good care of their members? Did the MPs have the chance to express their thoughts or bring the people’s demands to the table?” he asked rhetorically. “Did they give importance to the members? They didn’t do that enough, did they?”
Prayut also said he understood that all politicians wanted to do good for the country. However, they could not do that because of their party’s policies, the party leader’s policies or their supporters, he added.
But in the NCPO, nobody has such a dominant role and everyone can work freely, he insisted.
“So, go back and have a look at how you work [in your party]. It’s not your business that members are being lured. Your business is to take good care of your members,” Prayut said.