Thai Rath‘s political analysis of October 28 entitled “ปู” ชูก้าม กุมสภาพครม. focused on the Cabinet reshuffle. BP has summarised the main points below:
There has been a lot of news for a while that there would be a Cabinet reshuffle with many people flying to Dubai and Hong Kong (to meet Thaksin) . However, Yingluck has delayed the reshuffle for almost 6 months since the 111 former TRT members regained their political status, but with the resignation of Interior Minister Yongyuth it became time. There are three people who Thaksin places a lot of faith in who have got better positions as follows:
Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister: Jarupong Ruangsuwan (previously Transport Minister)
Transport Minister: Chadchart Sittipunt (previously Deputy Transport Minister)
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister: Surapong Tovichakchaikul (has added to the Deputy PM portfolio)
There are three other people who have regained their political status who were previously in important positions under Thaksin and have new positions now as follows:
Energy Minister: Pongsak Raktapongpaisal
Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister: Phongthep Thepkanchana
Deputy Education Minister: Sermsak Pongpanit
One other new person is someone close to Yaowapha (Thaksin and Yingluck’s sister) is Varathep Rattanakorn, who has become PM’s Office Minister.
Plodprasop Suraswadi has lost his Science and Technology portfolio but has became a Deputy Prime Minister and is overseeing the water management committee as he is someone who Yingluck trusts.
For the red shirts, we only have Nattawut who has switched places with Sanan’s son and become the Deputy Commerce Minister. Jatuporn has not got a position as thought previously and there was concern that his appointment would result in an ethics investigation.
Despite speculation that Priewpan (Thaksin’s brother-in-law, ie Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra’s brother) would become Deputy PM overseeing drugs, but his name was not on the list and he will have wait in the wings so there is no suggestion that putting members of her family in the government. Nevertheless, at the same time, Yingluck was able to push for Pradit Sintawanarong to be the new Public Health Minister. Most importantly, others in the Thai Ku Fah group (Yingluck’s group) and those close to Jae Daeng (Yaowapha) and who are in close scrutiny of the opposition have kept their positions. These Ministers are Boonsong (Commerce), Kittirat (Finance), and Defence (Sukampol). At the same time, the opposition can’t attack the government that the reshuffle was done to escape the censure vote as these three are those who will be attacked by the opposition.
The coalition partners have no quota changes with each party making some changes from within their own party to ministerial positions.
Overall, there has not been major changes. It shows that Yingluck has power over the reshuffle.
The Bangkok Post:
The cabinet rejig also reflects Ms Yingluck’s growing leadership clout and confidence. She retained Mr Kittiratt in his post despite strong criticism of the minister by several heavyweight politicians in her party.
Ms Yingluck also successfully pushed for Pradit Sintawanarong to replace Witthaya Buranasiri as public health minister even though Mr Witthaya has performed well and is part of a strong Pheu Thai faction led by Mr Pongsak.
Dr Pradit is a businessman in the property sector and was a shareholder in a subsidiary of Sansiri Group, which has good relations with Ms Yingluck.
Dr Pradit is expected to be tasked with pushing for the merger of the three national healthcare schemes.
Ms Yingluck reportedly picked government spokesman Sansanee Nakpong, who is tipped to be a PM’s Office Minister and help promote the Thai Women Empowerment Fund.
The Financial Times:
Mr Thaksin has vowed to return if he can negotiate a deal to overturn corruption-related charges laid in absentia under the previous Democrat government. But analysts said the cabinet move suggested Ms Yingluck was in no hurry to see him return.
“With this reshuffle, she has signalled growing political confidence and independence,” said one western diplomat.
But Thai commentators said at least 10 cabinet ministers ran counter to the wishes of Mr Thaksin, including Mr Kittirat, whom the former PM is said to oppose.
BP: Prime Ministers have few official powers, but the Cabinet reshuffle and the dissolution is when a Prime Minister can flex their muscles. While Abhisit was popular, he was able to do this and Yingluck is the same. Obviously, Thaksin overshadows everything, but he only has indirect control. He can’t make Yingluck put the names of Ministers down on the list. He also can’t get rid of her either so he has to adapt. As long as Yingluck remains popular, her power will grow…