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Military relinquish power as the new Thai cabinet prepares to be sworn in today

The Thaiger

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Military relinquish power as the new Thai cabinet prepares to be sworn in today | The Thaiger
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“Thailand is now fully a democratic country with a constitutional monarchy, with a parliament whose members are elected.”

Thai PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha has formally stepped down as the head of the NCPO military junta saying Thailand will now function as a normal democracy after five years of army rule.

Prayut’s “normal democracy” includes a loaded upper house of Senators all appointed by the Junta before they relinquished government yesterday.

The new Thai lower house of Parliament is led by the pro-Junta Palang Pracharat Party in a shaky coalition which includes 18 other members needed to rally the numbers to form government.

In a televised address last night, Prayut claimed the country’s military rule had, among many successes, fixed the problem of illegal fishing, tracked down human traffickers, been involved in the rescue of 13 football players from the Tham Luang Cave and overseen peace and growth during the five years in power.

He reiterated that the intervention in May 2014 had been necessary to restore order after six months of street protests and violent clashes.

Referring to the sweeping powers that NCPO commanded over the five years, including the controversial Article 44 which granted the Junta absolute power and absolving of responsibility, Prayut said things will now return to normal under the laws of the Thai constitutional monarchy.

“All problems will be addressed normally based on a democratic system with no use of special powers.”

According to Reuters, last week Prayut used his Article 44 powers one final time to end various restrictions on media. He also transferred civilian legal cases from military to civilian court though he controversially retained the power to allow Thai security forces to carry out searches and make arrests unchallenged.

The new government will be sworn in by His Majesty The King this afternoon. The government will face its first tests in parliament next week where the opposition parties have already foreshadowed a number of censure motions to test the new government’s majority.

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Politics

PM distancing himself from party room clashes

Jack Burton

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PM distancing himself from party room clashes | The Thaiger
PHOTO: kaohoon.com

PM Prayut Chan-o-Cha appeared to distance himself from party politics, and internal strife within the ruling Palang Pracharat party, after 18 members resigned en masse to pave the way for the election of a new executive committee, party leader and secretary-general. He repeatedly deflected questions from reporters about speculation that the resignations were intended to replace party leader Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana with Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, who has been the party’s chief strategist.

The PM says it’s is an internal affair and quite normal for any political party. He says he doesn’t want to make excuses, and he will not get involved in internal party politics unless it concerns the Government or the coalition’s stability. He told reporters that the conflict within the party should be settled by party members, without the need for him to get involved, and warned the media not to dramatise the issue.

Prayut also made it clear that changes to the executive committee are a separate issue from Cabinet appointments, which concern all parties in the coalition, adding that he has to prepare to address the House of Representatives tomorrow about changes to the 2020 fiscal budget bill.

“Be cool, don’t be temperamental. I have been very calm so far because it won’t do any good for me to get upset.”

Culture Minister Itthiphol Khunpluem says most Palang Pracharat party members don’t object to Prawit being elected party leader. Like Prayut, he maintains that a change of the party’s executive committee is a normal process.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Prawit tipped to become leader of ruling Palang Pracharat party executive

The Thaiger

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Prawit tipped to become leader of ruling Palang Pracharat party executive | The Thaiger

Whilst the attention of the country has been on the CCSA, with the PM at the helm, and their handling of the Covid-19 outbreak, there has been ongoing dissent inside the ruling Palang Pracharat party which boiled over yesterday with the resignation of 18 members of the party’s executive committee. There’s been building conflict within the party whilst the PM has been ‘distracted’.

Under the party’s rules the party will have to elect a new leader and executive committee within 45 days. Paiboon Nititawan, a Palang Pracharat deputy leader, informed embattled party leader Uttama Savanayana about the resignations yesterday and submitted 18 letters of their intentions, one from each MP. Meanwhile, the outgoing committee will remain in place before the election of the new executive committee.

Now all eyes are on the diminutive 74 year old loyal sidekick to the prime minister, Prawit Wongsuwan, who is tipped to become the new leader of the executive committee. Prawit has served throughout the period of the NCPO (National Council of Peace and Order) following the May 2014 army coup, in various capacities. He often serves as Prayut’s ‘fix it’ man and currently serves as one of the deputy prime ministers in the coalition government. He served as defence minister during the period of the NCPO.

The resignations and potential cabinet reshuffle appear to be a response to disagreements within the leading party (a political extension of the NCPO who ran candidates in the March 25 election last year) about the rebooting of Thailand’s economy in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis and the damage its caused just about every sector of the country’s finances.

Palang Pracharat MP for Bangkok, Sira Jenjaka, says that the spill was the result of a deal when the party was formed that the current executive committee members would have one year to prove their value and their performance would “then be assessed”. He said “they now must admit that it is time for a change”.

Current party leader Uttama has found himself embroiled in the crossfire of party infighting with factions pushing stalwart General Prawit, who has been the party’s chief strategist, to take the top job. Asked about the prospects of him becoming the new leader of Palang Pracaharat, General Prawit responded in his usual non-committal manner.

“Let me think about it first because I had no intention to enter politics from the beginning.”

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says he doesn’t want any involvement with the resignation of the party executives or any change in the party’s leadership because he is not a member of the party machine even though he was nominated by them to be their prime ministerial candidate.

Prawit Wongsuwan hit the headlines again over the weekend after a letter of explanation, sent by the country’s anti-corruption commission, listed the reasons Prawit was exonerated over the luxury watch scandal in 2018. The letter says the NACC commissioners “acknowledged that Pattawat Suksriwong was the owner of the watches and had lent them to General Prawit. The letter, sent to a Pheu Thai Party member, also confirmed that Prawit had returned the watches, worth tens of millions of baht, to Pattawat’s family after he used them.

Here’s the list of the watches he ‘borrowed’ from his friend, businessman Pattawat Suksriwong who died in 2017.

Prawit tipped to become leader of ruling Palang Pracharat party executive | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Bangkok Post| Wikipedia

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Opposition criticises Government for unnecessary borrowing

Maya Taylor

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Opposition criticises Government for unnecessary borrowing | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai opposition chief whip Suthin Klangsaeng - Thai PBS World

The Pheu Thai opposition party is calling on the government to look to existing funds first before attempting to borrow a trillion baht from as-yet-unnamed sources. Opposition chief whip Suthin Klangsaeng was participating in the last day of the debate on three government decrees concerning the country’s finances.

A Thai PBS World report says the government is under fire for still not disclosing how it plans to borrow one trillion baht. Opposition parties say the public should be kept informed about such decisions, given that they will be paying the price for such significant borrowing for a long time into the future. Meanwhile the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has asked the Thai public to trust him and his government to acquire and handle the money with the interests of the Thai people at heart.

The opposition’s Suthin points to neighbouring countries such as Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam as examples of nations that have not had to resort to borrowing huge amounts of money in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. He acknowledges that Thai people need help as a result of the significant blow to the country’s economy but insists funds should be allocated from the government’s existing reserves. He says with some reshuffling of existing spending plans, the government could potentially reduce the amount of money it needs to borrow by as much as 15%.

Suthin also questions the government’s motivation in borrowing the money, accusing it of wanting to inject cash into the economy to drive spending, as opposed to compensating the small to medium businesses that have been so severely impacted by the impacts of the Covid-19 lockdowns.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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