“I already lost heart years ago” – Thailand’s economic Tzar ponders his fate

PHOTO: asia.nikkei.com

Thailand’s Deputy PM and leading economic advisor, Somkid Jatusripitak, has acknowledged his fate if PM Prayut Chan-o-cha decides to reshuffle the cabinet.

“A decision to shake up the cabinet is the prerogative of the prime minister.”

“I have been prepared for a long time. I am old now. I already lost heart years ago.”

Mr Somkid has long been proclaimed as the country’s economic ‘Tzar’ and has contributed to Thailand’s economic stability over 2 tumultuous decades. The 66 year old has served in various cabinets as an economic philosopher and advisor since 2003 when he worked with PM Thaksin Shinawatra. He was banned from political activities for five years after the 2006 coup d’état but is recognised as one of Thailand’s few highly educated economists.

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“When it comes to appointing cabinet ministers, the prime minister will have to choose the right person for the right job and put the national interest first… it is normal for cabinet ministers to come and go in a government.”

Discussing the resignation from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party of three cabinet ministers, Mr Somkid said this was “an internal affair of the party, and it will not affect the government’s work”.

Kobsak Pootrakul, deputy secretary-general of the PM, also resigned.

Two weeks ago the 74 year old Prawit Wongsuwon, loyal side-kick of Prayut, became the leader of Palang Pracharat Party. He is also a long-term deputy prime minister and has broad political and Army connections. He was put into the top spot of the ruling party to quell dissent amongst some of the coalitions 20+ parties, all pushing for their own agendas.

The problems for Somkid Jatusripitak is that all 4 members who resigned from Palang Pracharat are part of the economic cabinet put together under his mentorship. With a reshuffle on the cards his future heading up Thailand’s fiscal leadership is now in doubt.

The resignations of the 3 ministers follows a mini-coup within the ruling party in the middle of June. Some Palang Pracharat members backing new party leader Prawit Wongsuwan are demanding a cabinet reshuffle. The PM has stayed out of the fray at this stage and hasn’t announced whether a shuffle will happen or not.

Prawit has spent the past two weeks trying to call for unity and subdue the simmering tensions from the minority members of the coalition.

“I love you all equally. I want everyone to stop quarrelling. I know that everyone wants justice and equality. There must be an answer to inequality. The party must be unified without factions. Whatever happened in the past, you must put all this behind you. From now on, I will take responsibility.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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