Civilians See Surge in Major Military Govt Reshuffle

Cabinet members pose for a group photo Jan. 4, 2017, in front of Government House in Bangkok.

BANGKOK — The latest cabinet reshuffle, approved Friday night by King Vajiralongkorn, saw 10 ministers join and nine leave ministerial posts.

The move – the most extensive since the May 2014 coup – saw heavyweights such as Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and Deputy Premier Wisanu Krue-ngam retain their positions.

Among the nine who lost their seats were Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Thanasak Patimaprakorn, Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Udomdej Sitabutr, Prime Minister’s Officer Minister Panadda Diskul and Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul.

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The reshuffle, the fourth since Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power, saw a large presence of civilian appointees: 13 of 18.

The new appointments made were led by Gen. Chatchai Sarikaya, who was moved from minister of agriculture to deputy prime minister.

Deputy Prime Minister Air Chief Marshal Prachin Chantong was also made Minister of Justice.

Key posts for new ministers include Kobsak Pootrakool, appointed new prime minister’s office minister, Gen. Chaicharn Changmongkol as deputy defense minister and Weerasak Kowsurat as tourism and sports minister.

Weerasak, 52, who studied law at Chulalongkorn University and later at Harvard, has been advisor to the former Chart Thai Party since 1997. He was deputy minister of culture in 2003 and 2004 under the Thaksin Shinawatra administration.

Kobsak, 49, was executive vice president at Bangkok Bank and former Monetary Policy Strategy Division Head at the Bank of Thailand. Kobsak obtained a doctorate in macroeconomics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was also a former junta-appointed member of the first constitution drafting committee after the 2014 coup.

Krisada Boonrat, a former permanent secretary under the current military regime was appointed new agriculture minister. He will be assisted by deputy Luck Wajananawat, 60, an expert in community banking and credit.

The other new deputy minister of agriculture is Wiwat Sanyakamthorn, 62, chairman of Sufficiency Economy Institute and a veteran in works related to royal projects.

Businessman Pailin Chuchottaworn, 61, was appointed deputy transport minister and Siri Jirapongphan, 62 was made minister of energy.

The reshuffle also saw Udom Kachintorn – former president of Mahidol University – appointed as the new deputy education minister.


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