Matchima faces wait for Cabinet seats
The chances that the Matchima faction would get into the next Cabinet look slim even though it has switched from the opposition Bhum Jai Thai to the ruling Pheu Thai, as there is a long queue of party stalwarts yearning for a ministerial post.
With the passing of Chumpol Silpa-archa, a deputy PM and the tourism and sports minister, and the defeat of the party's candidate in the Bangkok governor election, PM Yingluck Shinawatra is forced to make changes to her team.
Pheu Thai Party leaders are evaluating underperforming ministers and would submit a report to ex-pm Thaksin Shinawatra. Ministers at risk of losing their portfolios include Natural Resources and Environment Minister Preecha Rengsomboon, who is likely to be replaced by Wisarn Thechatheerawat, a former Thai Rak Thai MP from Chiang Rai and confidant of Yongyuth Tiyapairat.
Deputy Industry Minister Thanit Thienthong, who is under the quota of Snoh Thienthong's Wang Nam Yen faction, may be removed because of a perceived lack of outstanding achievements.
Deputy Transport Minister Prasert Chanruangthong, who is seen as not pushing proactively for the Bt2-trillion transport systems, may also be kicked out so that other northeastern MPs can take over this major project. Thaksin's close aides, however, argue that Prasert has been on the job only three months so it is too early for a performance appraisal.
Moves to include the Matchima faction of Somsak Thepsuthin in the fourth Yingluck Cabinet have upset many senior Pheu Thai MPs who have been waiting a long time for their turn. These party heavyweights believe the Matchima members did not join forces with the party in the political struggle and were not under the banner of Pheu Thai like them.
Matchima had been expected to land one seat in the Cabinet line-up expected to be completed this month.
Paijit Srivarakan, a Pheu Thai Party MP for Nakhon Phanom, said Matchima should be patient since it is halfway on its political journey with Pheu Thai.
It would be more graceful for them to wait till the next general election and then form the new Cabinet together because the public had decided to give Pheu Thai a landslide mandate in the previous general election, while Matchima won fewer seats and fell into the opposition camp.
The Pheu Thai-led government is already robust enough and bringing more MPs under its wing will not automatically lend more stability.
"We need not only quantity but also quality for democratic development,'' he said.
Pheu Thai heavyweight Yaowapa Wongsawat, Thaksin's sister, has wanted Matchima aboard to fortify the party's base in northern areas.
However Paijit said if the new members are not sincere and honest, what was supposed to strengthen the party may actually weaken it.
"If Matchima had really wanted to join us, they should have done so when the election was just over,'' he said.
Sura Techatat, spokesman of the Palang Chon Party, denied that his party was seeking a place in the Cabinet, saying the party had not made such a move and no one had invited it to become a member.