BANGKOK — The ruling Phalang Pracharat Party on Tuesday formally nominated its new party leader Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan as the Interior Minister for the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle.
The nomination, if accepted, would replace the current Interior Minister Gen. Anupong Paochinda who has no party backing. The party also proposed four more senior party members as new ministers, but PM Prayut Chan-ocha said it’s ultimately up to him to decide who will get which Cabinet posts.
“We didn’t discuss which quota belongs to whom. I will allocate it appropriately,” Prayut said. “Everyone has the right to express their views but the person who decides is me. We try to forge mutual understanding and I think there will be a consensus in the end. It won’t be long before the Cabinet reshuffle takes place.”
Titipol Phakdeewanich, dean of political science department at Ubon Ratchathani University, said on the phone Wednesday that the nomination of Prawit to be in charge of the powerful Interior Ministry is an attempt to ensure the government’s advantage in upcoming local elections.
“The coup makers want to consolidate control to plan for local elections,” he said. “The local elections process has been delayed but if Prawit is appointed he can control provincial governors, especially in the northeastern region.
“This is the key objective of the reshuffle. Prawit has more charisma.”
Sataporn Roengtam, a lecturer at Khon Kaen University’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, said Wednesday the nomination is not unexpected.
“I’m not surprised. But did they discuss it with Anuphong?” Sataporn said.
Besides Prawit, the party endorsed Suriya Juangroongruangkit, its deputy party leader and Minister of Industries, to take the seat of Energy Minister instead. Its party secretary general Anucha Nakasai is a candidate for Minister of Industries.
Another party deputy, Suchart Chomklin, is proposed as the new Labor Minister. The portfolio is currently occupied by the Action for Thailand Party, whose former leader Chatumongkol Sonakul resigned on Monday.
The last nomination is Narumon Pinyosinwat, the party treasurer and government spokeswoman, as candidate for Prime Minister’s Office Minister.
The party did not nominate anyone to replace Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation Minister Suvit Maesincee who resigned from the party and the Cabinet post.
Both Titipol and Sataporn said they are not optimistic about how the government can improve the economy, even after the reshuffle.
“The problem with the economy is the lack of trust,” Sataporn said. “This reshuffle is being done in order to let the government continue to function. Prayut tries to reduce the pressure from the big party but I do not think the economy will be addressed. Without trust, you cannot propel the economy forward.”
Titipol expressed a similar sentiment. “For the economy, the interests of the country and the people are not being attended to – but only big businesses interests,” Titipol said.