BANGKOK — Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday told Matichon Group executives that he planned to reshuffle his Cabinet after the annual budget debate concluded in September.
The Prime Minister was speaking during his visit to the publishing company, which owns Khaosod English and other publications, as part of his ongoing media tour. Gen. Prayut also pledged to respect press freedom, support tourism, and revive the economy crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I will make my own decisions,” Prayut said. “Some ministerial seats wouldn’t take long to pick, but I can’t just replace them all with those outside the coalition … I have approached some of the skilled economists, but they are still reluctant to enter into politics.”
Prayut also downplayed the rumors of unrest within the ruling Phalang Pracharath Party. Four of its key members quit earlier this week after they reportedly lost a bid to stay on the next Cabinet reshuffle, and there’s talk that they would form their own party in protest.
“I’m not a member of Phalang Pracharath, but everyone cooperates with me fully,” Prayut told the meeting at Matichon. “The party leaders have nothing against me. It’s the lesser people who poke at each other.”
In the meeting with Prayut were executives and editors of the Matichon Group.
He was received by Matichon Group president Khanchai Boonparn and managing director Parnbua Boonparn. Parnbua praised the government for its effort in containing the outbreak, but she also raised concerns over the country’s dire economic outlook.
“I want to suggest that the government should ensure equal access to basic needs. Many people are affected by the pandemic,” Parnbua said. “If the government has a clear plan and is able to communicate effectively, it would promote understanding and cooperation with the public.”
Prayut replied that the government will “help those who had fallen to stand up again,” in all sectors of society, and boost the tourism industry by promoting new destinations in the country.
He also maintained that the authorities will not interfere with the media.
“I want to build understanding and cooperation with the press for the benefit of the public,” Prayut said. “I do not intend to violate the Fourth Estate.”
Prayut has been touring major newspapers this week, having met with Post Publishing and the Nation Multimedia Group.