New Cabinet line-up ‘sent for royal endorsement’

politics November 16, 2017 10:33

By The Nation

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Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has submitted a list of changes in his Cabinet line-up for royal endorsement yesterday, a Government House source said on Thursday.

This would be the fourth Cabinet reshuffle for the Prayut government in three years.

Prayut and his Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan on Wednesday abruptly cancelled their schedules at Government House amid reports that the premier was busy with the reshuffle.

After returning from the Asean Summit in Manila at 2am on Wednesday, Prayut went to work at Government House later that morning and called a meeting on education reform but cancelled his weekly Wednesday workout.

Prayut did not speak to the media.

The premier also cancelled his schedule today [Thursday] to chair a seminar being held by Thai media on Asean 50 and has asked Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai to represent him at the event.

A Government House source said Prayut was busy with the list as he wanted to finish it on Wednesday.

Prawit was not seen at Government House amid wide speculation that he might be removed as deputy PM.

Prawit was scheduled to chair a meeting to prepare for a Cabinet retreat in Pattani and Songkhla provinces later this month but asked his deputy minister General Udomdej Sitabutr to chair the meeting.

Prawit's close aide said the deputy PM had gone abroad on personal work.

In the proposed Cabinet reshuffle, according to sources, Agriculture Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya would be shifted to the Labour Ministry to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of General Sirichai Distakul early this month. Chatchai’s current post would be filled by former permanent secretary and former agriculture minister Yukol Limlamthong.

Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin is among those who might be replaced. Reports said Ramkhamhaeng University rector Wuttisak Lapcharoensap would be appointed Education Minister.

Wuttisak said yesterday that he was not aware of such a development. Asked if he had been invited to join the Cabinet by the PM, he said, “The premier is abroad. I would comment when things are clear.”

It is likely that Police Chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda would be named Social and Human Development Minister.

Reports suggested that Chakthip, who is in the United States to attend a meeting with the FBI from November 13-19, had reportedly written his resignation from his police post, but not yet submitted it to Prayut as he wished to remain in the police post.

It has also been reported that Social and Human Development Minister Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew would be reshuffled to the post of deputy PM.

The reports also said that Energy Minister General Anantaporn Kanjanarat would be replaced by National Legislative Assembly member General Yodyuth Boonyathikarn, who has just resigned from his post as president of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand.

Early this month, Prayut had said he was considering a reshuffle and was thinking of reducing the number of military officers in the Cabinet to be replaced with civilians.