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Thai PM rules out major reshuffle

Publication Date : 30-09-2012

 

Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday hinted at imminent small changes in her Cabinet line-up following Friday's surprise resignation of Deputy PM and Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit.

She said the changes would only involve the seats left vacant by Yongyuth's departure.

In response to a question on whether she would reshuffle her Cabinet following Yongyuth's resignation, Yingluck said: "I will not do that. I will have to do the assignments first. There's no time now. I want to see continuity of jobs. I will have to consider again if there should be a [major] Cabinet reshuffle."

"Today the focus will be on the posts of deputy prime minister and interior minister," she said.

One of the deputy prime ministers would take over Yongyuth's responsibilities while his roles as the interior minister would be shared by the two deputy interior ministers, Yingluck said. "I will have to discuss this matter with the Cabinet so that a decision can be made in the form of a Cabinet resolution," she added.

The premier was speaking to the media at Suvarnabhumi Airport shortly after her arrival from the United States where she attended the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Political observers have been expecting a major Cabinet reshuffle to follow Yongyuth's resignation amid mounting pressure from factions in the ruling Pheu Thai Party.

When asked how she would deal with the reported lobbying for Cabinet seats ahead of an expected shake-up, the prime minister said yesterday that she would choose her Cabinet members because of their capabilities.

"We respect and listen to viewpoints from different sides. But Cabinet members will be chosen based on their suitability for the positions," she said.

Asked about the possibility of appointing to her Cabinet former executives of the disbanded Thai Rak Thai Party, founded by her brother ex-premier Thaksin, Yingluck said she was open to considering the previously banned politicians as they have many years of political experience.

Yingluck yesterday said it was a pity that Yongyuth had left her government, but added that she respected his decision.

"He worked devotedly for the government and he took care of the public to the best of his ability over the past year that we worked together.

"I consider this his sacrifice. He did not want to cause worries so he decided to take a break. It's sad for us. However, we have to respect his decision."

Meanwhile, MP Theptai Senapong from the opposition Democrat Party yesterday said that the Democrats wanted the prime minister not to let her decisions be influenced by Thaksin or any other people from her family.

"She should select well-qualified persons as Yongyuth's replacement," the opposition MP said.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission had found Yongyuth guilty of unlawfully endorsing the 2002 sale of monastic land owned by Wat Thammikaram to Alpine Real Estate Co and Alpine Golf & Sports Club Co while he was serving as deputy permanent secretary for the Interior. At that time, he was acting as the caretaker permanent secretary.

Last week, the Interior Ministry’s Civil Service Committee resolved to expel Yongyuth retroactively, but it also said he was qualified to benefit from the 2007 Exoneration Act. The anti-graft agency later said Yongyuth was not eligible for exoneration because he had never served the term of his punishment - a condition stated in the law.

 

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