October 04, 2012 00:00 By SOMROUTAI SAPSOMBOON THE NATI
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has repeatedly said it is not the time for her to change her Cabinet line-up because she does not want the government's work to be disrupted.
But political undercurrents involving those seeking Cabinet seats are coming to the surface every day.
As a result, the same old questions are coming back to public attention. Will a Cabinet reshuffle take place and when? Will it be a major or small reshuffle?
A sure answer would be a “yes”. The Cabinet will be reshuffled – but not now. But why? There are three major reasons:
First, the prime minister does not want the government’s work to be disrupted. She has no reason to fill the seats of deputy prime minister and interior minister vacated by the resignation of Yongyuth Wichaidit because she has assigned most of Yongyuth’s work as deputy prime minister to Chalerm Yoobamrung. Chalerm has been moved up from second deputy prime minister to first.
Yingluck has also assigned Deputy Interior Minister Chuchart Harnsawat to be in charge of the interior minister’s responsibilities, with help from adviser Padung Limcharoenrat, who was Yongyuth’s secretary.
Although the Interior Ministry is a big one, there’s no need for Yingluck to rush to find a new minister because, no matter who heads the ministry, he or she will have to listen to the decisions of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck and Yaowapa Wongsawat, another sister of Thaksin. This was obvious when senior Interior Ministry officials were reshuffled in which Yongyuth did not have a say at all.
The interior minister mostly performs routine operations, which could be handled by the permanent secretary. Wibul Sanguanpong is now the permanent secretary for Interior and he is a former classmate of Phumtham Wechayachai, the Pheu Thai director tipped as the next interior minister.
Third, Yingluck delayed the Cabinet reshuffle to prevent repercussions in the party from shaking the government’s stability.
It has been reported that Yingluck would change up to 10 posts, meaning severe rifts if she had reshuffled the Cabinet immediately after Yongyuth’s resignation.
Manoeuvring for Cabinet seats was admitted by Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit who said the Alpine case against Yongyuth was leaked by someone seeking a Cabinet seat.
Moreover, Yingluck reportedly does not want to bring in red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan into her Cabinet as ordered by her brother.
Yingluck may also want to wait for her Cabinet to announce its first-year achievements to Parliament first – and the announcement would take place early next month.