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Top Choices Spurn Thaksin


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ANALYSIS: Yingluck's elder brother missed out on some of the best people for the cabinet as they rejected his apparent terms and conditions.

 

 

A number of surprise appointments in Yingluck Shinawatra's debut cabinet indicate that deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was unable to convince viable candidates to accept his political terms and conditions.

 

The biggest surprise is at the Foreign Ministry where Pheu Thai MP Surapong Towijakchaikul has edged out former and current career diplomats.

 

Mr Surapong himself has admitted that he was not interested in foreign affairs in the first place.

 

Mr Surapong's appointment has underscored speculation by political observers that Thaksin has an agenda even as he strives to form a cabinet with people who have a good image.

 

But Mr Surapong seems to be keen on diplomacy with Cambodia which was in regular confrontation with Thailand during Democrat-led government, according to the Phnom Penh Post.

 

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong has sent him an invitation letter to meet. "As the start of our good collaboration, I would be very pleased if you could accept my invitation to pay an official visit to Cambodia at a convenient date in the near future," Hor Namhong wrote.

 

Other seasoned individuals declined to take on important ministry portfolios, forcing Thaksin to turn to others who would agree to his agenda and conditions, sources said.

 

Among those who bailed out is Vichit Surapongchai, executive chairman of Siam Commercial Bank, because he reportedly was told he would not have free rein to choose his deputy.

 

Also, several SCB board members reportedly objected to Mr Vichit joining the Yingluck cabinet.

 

"That's why the cabinet list kept changing," said Somjai Phagaphasvivat, a Thammasat University political scientist. "Eventually he went for those who will do what he wants them to."

 

Mr Somjai said the appointees had been even assigned a "mission" to fulfil Thaksin's demands.

 

The deposed prime minister may have drawn up a set of measures to determine if they were up to the task, he said.

 

"He might have set KPIs [key performance indicators] for the cabinet. That's probably why his sister laid down a six-month time frame for evaluation. It will be used to stimulate them to get to work," he said.

 

According to Mr Somjai, one of the top missions is likely to bring Thaksin back to Thailand without having to face punishment.

 

The burdens will fall on the Foreign Ministry and the Justice Ministry which is overseen by former police chief Gen Pracha Promnok.

 

Mr Somjai said it was possible that an amnesty would be issued to allow Thaksin to return home free of guilt.

 

The proposed amnesty would cover other groups of people to water down criticism and it would be put up for a referendum to seek justification.

 

Mr Somjai said some arrangements have been made to compensate those who missed out on seats in the Yingluck cabinet, especially MPs who are closely affiliated with the red shirts. "He is a strategist with charisma and he can make red-shirt leaders toe the line even though they are not given a post."

 

A close look at the Yingluck's cabinet reveals that political connections, not qualifications, helped a number of appointees land vitally important jobs. Several have been appointed based on their allegiance to the Shinawatra clan.

 

The double appointment of Yongyuth Wichaidit as deputy prime minister and interior minister speaks volumes of how his services are appreciated.

 

He has gone through a lot as Pheu Thai leader. He was seen as a nominal leader without real power and suffering disrespect and criticism from party members. Mr Yongyuth resigned as Pheu Thai's leader only to be reinstated later - reportedly because no one wanted the job and Thaksin asked him to take the job again.

 

Deputy prime minister and commerce minister Kittirat Na-Ranong served as president of the Stock Exchange of Thailand during the Thai Rak Thai government.

 

He guaranteed the sale of shares from Ample Rich to Thaksin's son and daughter, Panthongtae and Pinthongtha was legitimate.

 

But when it was revealed the shares were actually sold outside the market he said that both of them had "ticked the wrong box" in their filing and the mistake was corrected.

 

 

Bangkok Post

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The Nation applauds Yingluck's economic team.

 

Private sector encouraged by choice of ministers by Yingluck administration

 

The private sector has welcomed the new team of economic ministers. It believes they share the same view and that their educational backgrounds and experience will drive the Kingdom's economic growth with the ability to tackle urgent economic issues.

 

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/home/2011/08/10/national/Thumbs-up-for-new-economic-team-30162393.html

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Other seasoned individuals declined to take on important ministry portfolios, forcing Thaksin to turn to others who would agree to his agenda and conditions, sources said.

 

Among those who bailed out is Vichit Surapongchai, executive chairman of Siam Commercial Bank, because he reportedly was told he would not have free rein to choose his deputy.

 

Also, several SCB board members reportedly objected to Mr Vichit joining the Yingluck cabinet.

 

"That's why the cabinet list kept changing," said Somjai Phagaphasvivat, a Thammasat University political scientist. "Eventually he went for those who will do what he wants them to."

 

Mr Somjai said the appointees had been even assigned a "mission" to fulfil Thaksin's demands.

 

 

 

I think the articles makes it clear how strong Mr. T.'s hand is in the new government. I wonder which position he will take when he returns to LOS in a few months (my prediction)? hmmmer.gif

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As my neighbour, a retired taxi driver from Issan, remarked to me a couple of years ago: "If he comes back, he's dead". They'd better use a silver bullet.

 

I will keep my fingers crossed that this taxi driver has been right. Only then Thailand can start the reconciliation process and finally find peace.

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I am not advocating homicide, but I am sure he knows there are plenty of Thais who would love to get rid of him. Sondhi was ambushed in a much more sophisticated manner than the usual Somchai-on-a-mo'cy type hit. This is a violent country, despite all of the smiles.

 

I've mentioned before that my own brother-in-law was a victim of a hit, simply because he was becoming too successful in a business. His main competitor hired the gunman.

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