Small coalition parties vow to ‘speak up’ at Mar 17 dinner with Prayut
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is scheduled to have dinner with key figures from small coalition parties next Thursday amid reports that they are displeased with his government.
Some of these parties feel they have been ignored because they are small, while others are becoming increasingly critical of the premier and his style of dealing with the country’s problems.
Prayut issued an invitation to leaders of small coalition parties to join him for dinner on March 17 at 6pm at Rajpruek Club in Bangkok, the same site where he dined with key figures from major coalition parties on March 8.
The smaller parties include New Economics Party, Action Coalition for Thailand, Thai Local Power Party, Chart Pattana Party and Thai Forest Conservation Party, sources said on Saturday.
Some party leaders also confirmed receiving the invitation on Saturday.
New Palang Dharma Party leader Ravee Machamadol said he too had been invited and believes other senior Cabinet members will also be present at the event. He added that small parties will use this dinner as an opportunity to inform the premier about their policy ideas and their worries.
Pirawit Luangludolapak, from Thai Rak Tham Party, said he personally will frankly tell Prayut that if he wants to complete his term, “he should care more about us [small coalition parties]”.
As of Saturday, it was still unclear if the small party leaders who had met former deputy agriculture minister Thammanat Prompow for dinner last Friday were also invited to the March 17 event.
Thammanat, former secretary-general of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, and 21 members of his faction were booted out of the party for allegedly plotting to oust the premier. He and his cohorts are now in the Thai Economic Party and continue being a thorn in Prayut’s side.
Suratin Pojan, leader of the New Democracy Party, who dined with Thammanat last week said on Saturday that he has yet to get an invitation for the March 17 dinner.
“Even if I get invited, I will consider whether to join. People have been complaining about problems posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the government is busy holding dinners,” he said.
Opposition chief whip Sutin Klungsang, who is a key figure at Pheu Thai Party, said the fact that small party leaders had met Thammanat for dinner signalled that they did not back the government, which could eventually destabilise the coalition.
However, chief coalition whip Nirote Sunthornlekha, who hails from the Palang Pracharath Party, on Saturday downplayed the dinner with Thammanat, saying “it’s nothing much because they have been close for some time”.