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Wissanu ‘disappointed’ at withdrawal of a prominent thinker and Pheu Thai practitioner from strategy

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Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Monday that he felt disappointed when two prominent thinkers turned down a request to sit on the national strategy committee.

The presence of Somchai Jitsuchon and Chatchart Sittipan on the committee that is putting together a 20-year national strategy would have been to the greater good of the nation, said Wissanu.
Despite their rejection, the government had not lost face, said the deputy PM, who added that he did not think that political game playing was behind their decisions to decline the posts.
The names of the two appeared in the announcement of the committee published in the Royal Gazette last week, but both had asked to resign from the posts shortly after.
Wissanu said he had on Sunday acknowledged their bowing out. He was rather disappointed in their decision because the government had looked forward to their contributions of intellect, vision and strategy, he said.
“But it’s alright. I have sympathy for them,” Wissanu said.
The deputy PM denied speculation that the attempt to include former transport minister Chatchart was motivated by a desire to seek the cooperation of dissident groups.
The government had focused only on his attributes, Wissanu said. Chatchart was well known for his expertise about public infrastructure.
Last week, Wissanu had confirmed that Chatchart, who had served under Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration and was very much admired by Pheu Thai Party supporters, had agreed to join the junta-initiated national strategy committee. The former transport minister subsequently met with fierce criticism and announced late on Saturday night via Facebook that it was not the case.
In his account, Chatchart said he had not agreed to take the post. He already had a full-time job in a public company, he wrote, in addition to perhaps not quite understanding the national strategy as currently floated.
Wissanu later admitted that he had not personally discussed the matter with Chatchart, but rather communicated through a coordinator.
“There’s nothing more to say. If they do not accept the positions, so be it,” Wissanu said. “I admit that it’s a shame and I’m disappointed. But it’s alright. I can understand.”
It was rather common that some people reject appointments to posts, the deputy PM said. In the case of Somchai, who is a research director at Thailand Development Research Institute, taking the position was against his office rules, he said.
All members recruited to the national strategy committee had been well chosen, said Wissanu. It was not about connection or politics, he stressed, adding that the government would later clarify why each member had been selected once the panels were fully formed.
Additional people could be invited to sit, as long as the number of members of each panel does not exceed 15, he said. But it would not be completed this week, he added.

Published : October 02, 2017

By : The Nation