Thai PM Prayut admits Cabinet reshuffle on his mind

Thai PM Prayut admits Cabinet reshuffle on his mind
PHOTO: AFP

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha admitted yesterday that he was considering reshuffling his Cabinet so that his government policies would be better delivered. He also admitted that widespread media speculation over the imminent Cabinet shake-up had caused him to lose concentration.

"I am thinking about it. But I don't want to create impacts. Cabinet reshuffle or not, if I talk about it today the economy and security may be affected and there could be conflict," Prayut said, when asked if a shake-up would happen.

The prime minister said he would consider changes in the Cabinet line-up based on the performance of his ministers.

"My Cabinet members do their work as instructed by me. There is no problem for people who can deliver. But for those who cannot, I will have to find someone to replace them," Prayut said.

He said critics might allege that there was conflict in his Cabinet that led to the reshuffle and that he could be accused of failing to heed calls from the public if he did not do so.

A reporter told him that recent public opinion surveys showed that people wanted the economic ministers to be replaced. The prime minister asked if his economic ministers had made the country's economy worse.

"I wonder if it's because of them, me, or the global economy," he said.

"What to do if the Cabinet shake-up does not make things better? Who is to be blamed again? Is it me? So am I going to be replaced? Don't be too concerned now. Let me take care of it," Prayut said.

He did not give a clear answer when asked if Deputy Prime Minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula, who is in charge of economic affairs, would be replaced in a future Cabinet reshuffle. The prime minister replied: "My moral support is for everyone. I have always given encouragement to my Cabinet members. Do I have to discourage them?"

The prime minister said he would not replace General Prawit Wongsuwan as the deputy prime minister in charge of security affairs. But he did not clarify whether Prawit, Prayut's senior in the Army, would be replaced as the defence minister.

There was speculation that Army commander-in-chief General Udomdej Sitabutr, who is to retire at the end of September, will replace Prawit as new defence minister. Udomdej currently also serves as deputy defence minister.

Prayut dismissed reports that some of his Cabinet members had tendered their resignations. "Everyone is still going strong and doing their duties. The problem is there are too many problems, which have accumulated for a long time," he said.

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