Govt downplays plans for cabinet reshuffle

Prawit 'knows nothing' of move to interior

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon: I want to stay as Minister of Defence. (Bangkok Post file photo by Thanarak Khunton)

The government has brushed aside speculation that the upcoming cabinet reshuffle will see Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon moved to the role of interior minister.

Gen Prayut said Monday he is unaware of the reports, but added that his deputy is keen to carry on in the positions he currently occupies.

Some media outlets have suggested Gen Prawit will be replaced by Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda as the new defence minister in the reshuffle. "I have no idea," said Gen Prawit, responding to a question from the media.

"This [reshuffle] rests with the prime minister," he said.

Asked if he would rather be in charge of the Defence Ministry given his background in the army, Gen Prawit answered in the affirmative, citing his ties with the 10 Asean ministries.

Gen Prawit said he and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha have not discussed the details of a cabinet reshuffle.

He said the reshuffle is unlikely to happen soon because it would be better carried out after the royal cremation ceremonies for the late King.

Meanwhile, Gen Anupong refused to comment on the reports, noting the decision would rest with Gen Prayut.

"I have not heard about this issue. There has been no discussion of it at the cabinet meeting either," Gen Anupong said.

Various other ministers thought likely to lose their jobs in the rejig also told the media they were unaware of any such plans.

Reports have also emerged that Justice Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana will be ditched from his post. Mr Suwaphan said Monday he has no right to discuss the issue and declined to comment on it.

Reports have also surfaced that national police chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda will be made Social Development and Human Security Minister.

It has been said that he will be replaced by his deputy, Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul.

Gen Prawit, who is in charge of police affairs, said he was not aware of the reports.

He said in his opinion, Pol Gen Chakthip is still suitable for the top job in the police.

The deputy premier dismissed reports that a deal was made with Pol Gen Chakthip in which he would serve as police chief for two years and then be replaced by Pol Gen Srivara, saying there has been no such agreement.

Pol Gen Chakthip was promoted to police chief in 2015 by the board of the Royal Thai Police, which is chaired by Gen Prawit. He retires in 2020.

Gen Prawit, responding to the question of whether it would be appropriate for Pol Gen Chakthip to hold onto his job for another three years while his subordinates are waiting to be promoted, said as long as the right person is chosen for the job it didn't matter.

He also praised the police chief's recent performance in leading his forces to solve the case of a mass murder at a house in Krabi's Ao Luk district last week.

He said Pol Gen Chakthip has performed in the way in which the public would expect him to, adding the police also succeeded in solving various high-profile cases recently.

"I want to offer my praise to the police" for their work in trying to solve the Krabi murders, said Gen Prawit.

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