PPT has been looking at some of the reporting on the cabinet reshuffle that was announced yesterday. We can’t help but wonder if the pundits aren’t confused and confusing on what it means and the impact for the Puea Thai Party-led government.
A cabinet reshuffle in Thailand has brought loyal allies of self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra into the government led by his sister, consolidating his grip on power as he bides his time before making a serious effort to come home…. “We are seeing a Thaksin renaissance, with his top people being installed,” said Kan Yuenyong, director of Siam Intelligence Unit, a private think tank in Bangkok.
The Financial Times has a quite different take when it states:
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has consolidated her position with a sweeping cabinet reshuffle nearly 16 months after she was sworn into office…. Ms Yingluck’s decision to retain Mr Kittirat [Na-Ranong, the finance minister] and promote several confidantes prompted speculation about tensions in the relationship with her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra…. Ms Yingluck also refused to appoint certain Thaksin allies from his “red shirt” support movement. But she did bring back some loyal Thaksin MPs who were previously banned from political activity…. Thai commentators said the choice of at least 10 cabinet ministers ran counter to the wishes of Mr Thaksin, including Mr Kittirat, whom the former PM is said to oppose.
The Bangkok Post goes in another direction, declaring:
The much-anticipated new cabinet line-up shows signs of power being consolidated among the “Big Four” of the Shinawatra family…. The reshuffle list reflects the broad power wielded by ousted prime minister Thaksin, his ex-wife Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra and his two sisters Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Yaowapa Wongsawat.
Bangkok Pundit has Thai Rath saying: “Overall, there ha[ve] not been major changes. It shows that Yingluck has power over the reshuffle.”
As might be expected, the broken record that is opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva stated “the cabinet shake-up favoured certain politicians, rather than the public interest.”
All of this speculation pales into insignificance with the “big” story: that the cabinet cannot even meet because “the secretariat of the Royal Household Bureau has not yet scheduled an audience for the new ministers to take an oath of allegiance before His Majesty the King…”. Section 17 of the constitution states: “Before taking office, a Minister must make a solemn declaration before the King…”. Hence, Yingluck “ordered that the cabinet meeting be postponed until that important ceremony had been completed.”