Golf on the agenda as politicians jockey for alliances

politics April 20, 2018 01:00

By WASAMON AUDJARINT
THE NATION

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KEY JUNTA figures yesterday played down the gathering of Pheu Thai Party politicians at a golf course on Wednesday, denying any political significance.



Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said: “There was no significance. It was just a normal golf game – just like when I went there.

“Don’t try to view everything as having political significance,” he told Government House reporters.

On Wednesday, over a dozen key Pheu Thai figures converged on a Nakhon Pathom golf course owned by the Sasomsap family of politicians, who form a faction in the previously ruling party. There they met with Chaiyot and Anucha, two of the Sasomsap brothers, in what observers viewed as a Pheu Thai attempt to woo the faction back into its fold.

On Tuesday, the PM had said that authorities were trying to determine whether the gathering of Pheu Thai politicians at the golf course constituted a violation of the junta ban on political activities.

PM staying aloof

Deputy Prime Minister Chatchai Sarikulya yesterday said he saw nothing strange about Wednesday’s round of golf.

When asked if he would play golf again at the course owned by the Sasomsap family, General Chatchai said he was too busy these days. He noted that the last time he went there with PM Prayut.

Last December, General Prayut and certain other figures from the ruling junta were photographed with the Sasomsap brothers after playing a round.

Yesterday, the PM also attempted to stay aloof in response to a question asking if he wanted to become a full-fledged politician.

“I don’t want to get involved in politics. If I do so, I have to enter the election and become an MP and that’s impossible now,” Prayut said. He referred to the fact that the deadline had passed for junta figures to quit the posts if they wanted to contest the next election.

Prayut, who not long ago declared himself a “politician” after repeatedly denouncing the occupation, is now the focus of speculation about whether he is wants to be selected as PM after the next election, thanks to mechanisms in the Constitution that favour the military remaining in power.

“I don’t want to be a politician. But whether it is necessary? It depends on the future. It depends on what people want,” Prayut said, adding that: “You should wait until June.”

June is when the junta expects to call in political parties for a talk, a move seen as a possible junta attempt to influence political parties prior to the election.