All eyes on CAPO meeting with top ministry officials
April 17, 2014 00:00 By PANYA THIAOSANGWAN, KHANITTHA
THE SPOTLIGHT will be on this afternoon's meeting between the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) and permanent secretaries, as the stance of the top officials might reflect Thai political future in the event that the caretaker cabine
However, Democrat Party deputy leader Ongart Klampaiboon yesterday called on the senior officials to ignore CAPO’s invitation.
“This meeting was called so that the permanent secretaries show up and voice their support for the government. This would ease their worries related to the impact of the rallies led by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee [PDRC],” he said.
Ongart asked the senior officials either to refrain from attending the meeting or, if they absolutely must attend, not to express any opinions. Moreover, if there were any orders issued by CAPO at the meeting, then they should defy them.
Permanent secretary of Justice Kittipong Kittayarak yesterday posted a message on Facebook saying he will attend the meeting and use this as a chance to clarify himself and his actions. He believes this meeting was called partly due to him greeting PDRC protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban.
Kittipong said government officials’ job is to be responsible for the country, and as a former member of the Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand, he believes everybody should have a chance to talk and listen.
Kittipong has openly voiced support for national reform but it is not clear to what extent he agrees with Suthep’s ideas.
General Nipat Thonglek, permanent secretary of the Defence Ministry, said he was definitely going to attend, as it was “his duty” to do so – and CAPO’s invitation was really an order to attend as opposed to a request.
“I think attending the meeting will be useful in terms of getting information about the political situation. CAPO’s invitation is similar to an order. I don’t think there is any reason not to attend the meeting. Moreover, the agencies not in charge of national security can take this opportunity to learn about and understand the situation,” he said.
Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Narong Sahametapat had earlier said he would not attend today’s meeting.
National Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattanatabut, meanwhile, said CAPO had the right to consider whether and how to punish any defiant government officials under the Internal Security Act. The top ministry officials should consider carefully what to do, as they would have to be held responsible for any action taken in defiance of the meeting’s resolution.
Last week, Narong and other officials at the Public Health Ministry welcomed Suthep Thaugsuban, who had led a PDRC rally to invite government officials to “boycott” the incumbent caretaker government.
Furthermore, the officials submitted a plan for reforming the ministry and the public health system, which clearly meant they were giving support to the proposal by the PDRC.
Senior officials at the Education and Justice ministries also greeted Suthep’s rallies aimed at inviting them to boycott the government.
Nipat, who has made it clear that his stance is with the government, also met with Suthep when he visited the Defence Ministry, although he said he was merely listening to what the PDRC leader wanted to say.
Amid controversy over what should happen in a political vacuum created if the caretaker Cabinet is removed by the courts, some academics have said permanent secretaries would have to be in charge of their ministries’ administration.