‘Miffed’ Bhumjaithai ministers skip weekly Cabinet meeting
Ministers from the Bhumjaithai Party stayed away from a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, in what is seen as an expression of their displeasure over the Interior Ministry’s plan to extend the concession of the Bangkok Skytrain operator.
All the Bhumjaithai ministers had informed the Cabinet secretary-general in advance about their absence.
There has been speculation that Bhumjaithai, which controls the Transport Ministry, is opposed to the Interior Ministry’s plan to seek Cabinet approval for extending the green line electric train, or Skytrain, concession of operator Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC).
Sources said that since the extension before the end of the contract was strongly criticised by the public, Bhumjaithai did not want to be seen as a party to the decision.
The current Skytrain concession is due to expire in 2029, but the Interior Ministry wants to extend it to 2059 if BTSC commits to freeze the maximum fare at Bt65. The Skytrain project is owned by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, which is supervised by the Interior Ministry.
Bhumjaithai has been coy about making its displeasure public. Sources in the party confirmed that the ministers were absent from the meeting, but because they were busy with other engagements.
Deputy government spokeswoman Trisulee Trisaranakul confirmed that Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, the party leader, and Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob had taken a leave of absence.
She said Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakan also was absent, but the reason cited was his need to quarantine after returning from a trip to China.