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July 31, 2020

Asia

THAILAND: Cabinet nominees show Prayuth’s difficult balancing act

BY Bob Herrera-Lim

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Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on 30 July submitted for royal approval the names of new cabinet members who would replace those that resigned two weeks ago. There has been no announcement yet and the list below is unofficial.

The lineup shows how Prayuth, who is not a member of the leading People’s State Power Party (PPRP), is attempting to balance the demands of his coalition members with his prerogative to choose more independent technocrats not beholden to the parties and who can help sustain the image of capable policymaking in his administration.

THAILAND: Cabinet nominees show Prayuth’s difficult balancing act 1

Both Predee and Supattanapong have been advising Prayuth for the past few years. The other appointments are an attempt to keep the disparate factions within PPRP and the ruling coalition happy and to address internal political grievances that had built up since the cabinet was formed last year. Suchart represents about 16 MPs from the central region and had been key in recruiting politicians to the PPRP from the For Thais (PT) party identified with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Anucha and Narumon are representatives of the Sam Mitr faction of PPRP, which also poached politicians from PT before the elections and is the biggest clique inside the party. Anek is a former Democrat party official, and one of the co-founders of his ACT party was Suthep Thaugsaban, who was one of the organizers of the street protests that ultimately led to the coup against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Since last year, recently resigned deputy prime minister and economic czar Somkid Jatusriptak had been complaining that internal policy coordination had become more difficult after the 2019 elections, as parties and factions apparently had become more concerned about protecting their respective turfs.

The new faces in the finance and energy portfolios will buy Prayuth some time, especially since they may try to build support from the influential Bangkok business lobby to support their agenda and act as a counterweight to the pressure from the politicians. They are likely to pursue the government’s existing agenda. However, should the economic recovery falter, then the blame internally will be laid on Prayuth’s choices, and the factionalism of the past few months is likely to return.

 

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