Senior Thai civil servants welcome new bosses

Top officials and civil servants at ministries handling social development and educational tasks welcomed their new bosses after the Prayuth Chan-ocha Cabinet was officially endorsed yesterday - and have prepared both existing and urgent policies under the junta's guidance for them to implement.

At the Education Ministry, reducing classroom hours, improved curricula and bolstering the image of and developing vocational study to attract more students are three priorities among all nine projects.

Permanent secretary Suthasri Wongsaman said she had confidence in all three ministers, especially Admiral Narong Pipatanasai, who works directly with the ministry after the May 22 coup. Other policies include increasing quality of teachers, promotion of distance learning using satellites, and greater use of technology in education, she said.

The nine projects are expected to be completed by next September, in accordance with the junta's policy for urgency of implementation.

She said Deputy Minister Krissanapong Kiratikorn possessed relevant experience, while Deputy Minister Lt-General Surachet Chaiwong had worked continually with the ministry alongside Narong, and initiated the policies of distance learning and the greater use of technology in education.

At the Labour Ministry, permanent secretary Jeerasak Sukhon-thachart said a set of five policies would be immediately followed - better overall management of migrant labour, boosting of Thai workers' skills in line with the ASEAN Economic Community next year, special economic zones, manpower shortages and unemployment, and getting Thailand off a negative watch list on human trafficking.

The office of Labour Minister General Surasak Kanjanarat is undergoing renovation, which is expected to be complete by next month. Surasak will work in a temporary office in the meantime.

Labour leader Wilaiwan sae-Tia said she wished Surasak could deliver what was promised to the public by Prime Minister Prayuth, on narrowing social and income gaps between the rich and the poor and lowering the cost of living.

Another leader, Arunee Srito, said she would not expect much from a military minister who would run the ministry based on what was given to him by ministry officials. However, she said she wished to see the Social Security Office become independent and the rights of non-employed people given better protection.

Social Development and Human Security Minister Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew said he would focus on combating human trafficking, relying on his experience as a career policeman, apart from other duties assigned to him to oversee human security and educational affairs.

He said he would start working at the ministry today.

Rural Doctors Foundation chairman Dr Kriangsak Vacharanu-kulkieti said he approved of both Minister Rajata Rajatanavin and Deputy Minister Somsak Chunharas, as both were physicians and well versed in the Public Health Ministry's affairs.

Kriangsak said he wanted to see the three key welfare funds - the universal healthcare scheme, the social security scheme and government officials' medical fund - be equally funded, and to serve people equally.