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Thai opposition to target PM, commerce minister

Publication Date : 28-10-2012


The Thai opposition will grill individual Cabinet members in the upcoming censure debate, with the prime minister and her commerce minister being the main targets over the government's controversial rice price-pledging policy, a source from the Democrat Party said yesterday.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom will be high in the opposition's censure motion to be submitted to the House speaker on Wednesday, according to the source, who said they would later discuss other targets.

"We agreed that the debate should focus on issues that are really clear. So we will avoid having too many targeted ministers, which may weaken our attack," the source said.

The opposition's latest move comes ahead of an imminent Cabinet reshuffle in which many ministerial seats are expected to be affected.

In addition to the rice-pledging policy, the opposition will focus on the government's poor management of last year's flood crisis, according to the source, who asked not to be identified.

The source was confident that information about the rice policy to be disclosed by opposition MPs during the no-confidence debate would "really put the government in deep trouble".

Chief opposition whip Jurin Laksanavisit, who is a senior Democrat figure, yesterday said that the opposition onslaught would also cover the rising cost of living and expensive consumer products. He said the list of targeted Cabinet members would have to be adjusted now that many ministers would be removed from office in the imminent Cabinet reshuffle.

The Democrats have decided the censure debate will be called between November 27 and 29, according to the chief opposition whip.

Meanwhile, senior figures in the ruling Pheu Thai Party yesterday tried to contain mounting disappointment among factions in the party, particularly those close to the red-shirt movement, following news that red-shirt leader and Pheu Thai MP Jatuporn Promphan would remain excluded from the Cabinet.

Noppadon Pattama, a legal adviser to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is referred to as the "big boss" by Pheu Thai politicians, said that those who fail to get appointed in the upcoming Cabinet shake-up would still have a chance to be included in the Cabinet.

"I would like to send this message to people who miss out on an appointment. Please be reminded that this government still has three years left in office. It will definitely complete its [four-year] term. Normally, every six months, there is a Cabinet reshuffle. So there will be no problem," he said.

He said that in a large political party like Pheu Thai, there will be people who are pleased and those who are upset when there is a Cabinet reshuffle.

Regarding the red-shirt leaders' disappointment with Jatuporn's failure to get appointed, Noppadon said it was understandable. "I have to admit that Jatuporn is efficient and that's why his supporters want him to become a minister. But they should also understand the situation. Jatuporn still has a lot of opportunities," he said.

Worachai Hema, a red-shirt leader and Pheu Thai MP, yesterday warned the prime minister that a person close to her, whose name has the initial S, would destroy the party rather than helping it. "The prime minister may be good in running the country, but she is not good at political matters," he said.

The politician said that the person in question had advised the prime minister not to include Jatuporn in her new Cabinet line-up.

Democrat spokesman Chavanont Intarakomalsut yesterday praised and thanked the PM for not allowing herself to be influenced by Thaksin in her choice of people for the new Cabinet. "The prime minister has been on her own in choosing people to work for the country. To make it even better, she should also get rid of all the weak points. There are still many people in her Cabinet who are not suitable for the ministerial seats," he said.


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