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Yingluck's CEO style keeps ministers on their toes

Aug 31. 2011
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By Piyanart Srivalo

Now that she has chaired four Cabinet meetings, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's colleagues have obviously found her management style impressive. Of course, this could be because she has already gained extensive experience as the chairperson of SC Ass

For instance, compared to its predecessors, Yingluck's Cabinet seems to spend very little time discussing issues - less than three or four hours. In fact, on Tuesday, her Cabinet only spent one hour discussing the agenda. Normally, Cabinet sessions are known to last beyond the lunch hour, usually ending at around 2-3pm.

PM's secretary-general Bandhoon Supakavanich explained that Yingluck did not really limit the time the Cabinet spends discussing issues provided each and every minister comes well prepared.

He said the premier insists that each minister be able to explain or answer the questions themselves instead of relying on their staff or officials, because sometimes explanations provided by officials can be too complicated or technical for others to understand. This working style is making the ministers work harder and is cutting down on time spent at the meeting, he said.

"The prime minister is very bright and does her homework well. She follows up on every issue… like her brother [former PM Thaksin Shinawatra]," he said.

Government spokesperson Titima Chaisang confirmed that this Cabinet does indeed finish its meetings very fast.

"The Cabinet goes through the agenda very quickly. I cannot keep up and often have to share the responsibility of taking down notes with my deputies. I don't even have time to go to the toilet," she said.

Titima explained that Yingluck works fast, shows no signs of confusion and never goes back to an issue that has already been discussed.

 "As soon as an item on the agenda has been addressed, she moves on to the next issue. I don't even have time to breathe. That's probably because she does her homework by reading all the documents before chairing the meetings," she said.

In addition, Yingluck has also set a new rule: all non-agenda issues must be proposed before 9am, not at 11am or later like in the past, Bandhoon said.

Previously, ministers often made their proposals quite late and other Cabinet members did not have time to read the documents or were too hungry to spend time considering the item.

This week, her Cabinet had as many as 16 items on the agenda and there was a bit of a bottleneck because ministers kept proposing non-agenda issues, Titima explained. This is why Yingluck has set a new rule for non-agenda issues.

In fact, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung was so annoyed that he called on the premier to cut down the number of non-agenda issues allowed per session, Titima recounted.

Chalerm's suggestion got full backing from fellow Deputy Prime Minister and Tourism and Sport Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa, who said: "I am relieved after Chalerm brought this up. It is good [if the premier cuts down on the number of non-agenda items]. As a reader I cannot read all the documents if you guys propose non-agenda items right now. It's not right."

Although it might be too soon to judge Yingluck's performance, but at least her CEO-like style can help force the ministers to do their homework, work harder and faster.

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