Wissanu to advise Cabinet on legal matters, no political role

Photo courtesy of The Nation

Seasoned legal expert and former Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam is poised to become an adviser to the Secretariat of the Cabinet, assisting with the government’s legal affairs.

Wissanu confirmed yesterday that Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin would appoint him to the position. He mentioned that the secretariat had previously approached him for the role following his departure as deputy prime minister after the end of Prayut Chan-o-cha’s government last year. Upon learning of this, PM Srettha expressed his intention to make the appointment official.

“I’ve already discussed the matter with officials from the Cabinet’s secretariat. They said they would revamp the working system and documentation process. They said they would ask me to become an adviser.”

This new role is not a political office and does not come with a salary. The 72 year old Wissanu added that he is not required to submit a declaration of assets and liabilities to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), unlike other political officeholders. He clarified that this position is distinct from that of an adviser to the prime minister.

When questioned about whether this appointment might lead to him becoming a deputy prime minister again under the Pheu Thai Party-led government, Wissanu firmly denied any intention to take up a political office.

The former deputy PM also disclosed that he met the Thai prime minister for discussions on various topics last Saturday, including the 62 year old’s recent visits to France and Italy and a petition submitted by 40 senators against Srettha over the appointment of Pichit Chuenban as PM’s Office Minister. Wissanu refuted claims that his new role would involve defending Srettha in court concerning the case.

Srettha’s ethics scandal

Last Thursday, the Constitutional Court accepted a petition seeking PM Srettha’s removal over the appointment of Pichit, whose eligibility is in question. The judges instructed Srettha to explain within 15 days but decided not to suspend him as prime minister pending the ruling.

Previously, the 40 caretaker senators had asked the Constitutional Court whether the Bangkok-born PM and Pichit should be removed from office under Section 170 (4) and (5) of the charter, which addresses the ethics of Cabinet ministers.

Following the 2014 coup, Wissanu was appointed deputy prime minister in charge of legal affairs under the previous administration. He also served as deputy prime minister under Thaksin Shinawatra from 2002 to 2006 and as the Cabinet’s secretary from 1993 to 2002.

The Thai premier mentioned yesterday that a prime minister’s order for Wissanu’s appointment is being prepared.

“I already met him for talks on the matter.”

When asked if the decision to hire Wissanu indicates a shortage of legal experts in the administration, PM Srettha responded that the government believes it is necessary to enlist more capable individuals to support its work and better serve the public.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul welcomed Wissanu’s appointment, noting that his legal expertise will significantly benefit the government.

Move Forward Party (MFP) list-MP Parit Wacharasindhu commented yesterday that the Pheu Thai-led government resorted to seeking assistance from a former Cabinet minister of the previous government due to a lack of better options, reported Bangkok Post.

Parit, who chairs the House Committee on Political Development, Mass Communication, and Public Participation, remarked that it remains unclear whether Wissanu’s appointment is aimed at helping the Thai PM in court or genuinely supporting the government’s work as claimed by the prime minister.

Bangkok NewsPolitics NewsThailand News

Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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