Thai PM 'ready to leave himself out' if Cabinet doesn't deliver

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has said he should be removed from the Cabinet if the current reshuffle does not result in improvement in the country's situation.

The new Cabinet list received Royal endorsement and was published in the Royal Gazette yesterday. Eleven ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula, who headed the economic team, were removed while 10 new faces, including Somkid Jatusripitak, an economic adviser to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), will join the Prayut government. Nine of the current ministers saw their portfolios changed; some were promoted and some were demoted.

The premier urged the public to understand that there is less international demand for Thai products and the government is doing everything it can to stimulate investment.

It is doing this by increasing government spending on investment projects, including the special economic zones in the border areas, he said.

Prayut said if Thailand could improve its infrastructure and build the economy with a strong government, it has enormous opportunity to become the hub of ASEAN.

"The things that I have ordered were delayed and I am not sure whether the sluggishness was caused by me or not, or maybe it is a deficiency on my part as I always have respect for everyone. But no one is perfect," he said after the launch of the state banks' National Savings Fund yesterday.

Meanwhile, Pridiyathorn told the press at Government House that he would not accept the post of economic adviser to the NCPO, the position vacated by Somkid when he replaced Pridiyathorn.

Pridiyathorn said he wanted to rest at home.

He also said Prayut had not given him prior warning of the decision to remove him.

He added: "No one has approached me regarding the advisory position with the NCPO and I would not have accepted it if it was offered, as I do not want to create divisions.

"Work obstacles made me unhappy during my time in office. Thailand has to move forward now and there is no need for divisions in the administration. So I will not accepted the adviser position.

"I am 68 now and you are not going let me retire? I want to go home and rest."

Pridiyathorn explained that Somkid needs space to work effectively and if he were to become an NCPO adviser it would look like he was finding faults in the new Cabinet.

Besides, he said the government could call him anytime it needed advice without having to appoint him to an official position.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said that Prayut reshuffled the Cabinet to boost public confidence and had the sole responsibility of making changes by looking at every ministry.

Prawit said he had high hopes for the new economic team led by Somkid and he extended his support for Somkid to work for the country.

Prawit downplayed Pridiyathorn's comment that the Cabinet reshuffle was "to divide and rule" after he was removed to become advisor, a post that he has rejected. Prawit said the comment was just Pridiyathorn's opinion.